Potemkin, Grigory (Aleksandrovich)

born Sept. 24, 1739, Chizovo, Russia
died Oct. 16, 1791, near Iaşi, Moldavia

Russian army officer.

He entered the horseguards (1755) and helped bring Catherine II to power (1762). He fought with distinction in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74), then became Catherine's lover (1774–76) and was made governor-general of "New Russia" (southern Ukraine). In 1783 she made him prince of Tauris. As a field marshal from 1784, he introduced reforms in the army, built the harbour of Sevastopol, and constructed a fleet in the Black Sea. He attempted to colonize the Ukrainian steppes, but he underestimated the costs, leaving many projects half-complete; his successful disguising of the weak points of his administration led to the claim that he erected mere facades
"Potemkin villages"
to show Catherine on her tour of the region. He commanded the Russian army in the second Russo-Turkish War.

Grigory Potemkin, engraving by James Walker, 1789, after a portrait by Johann Baptist Lampi.

Reproduced by courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co., Ltd.

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Universalium. 2010.

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