Alexey Andreevich Arakcheev was born in 1769 in the family of a small landed nobleman; was enrolled in the cadet corps as a cadet. After graduating from this institution, he was assigned to him as a teacher, then sent to an artillery regiment.
At Gatchina his zeal was noted by the future emperor Paul I, from that moment Arakcheev's career went uphill. He is the organizer of "military settlements", the daily routine of which he developed with his own hand.
Aleksey Andreevich is the author of the project for the abolition of serfdom, which the emperor instructed him to prepare, although this project was not implemented. Arakcheev's political life ended with the death of Emperor Alexei I. The new Emperor Nicholas I did not allow him even to participate in the trial of the Decembrists.
Myths about Arakcheev Alexei Andreevich
Arakcheev had an unattractive appearance. According to Count Sablukov, who personally knew Arakcheev, the latter looked like a huge monkey dressed in a uniform. Arakcheev was stooped, had big ears, a thick head, sunken cheeks, a wide nose with swollen nostrils, and so on. Overall, there was nothing attractive about this person.
Alexey Arakcheev especially distinguished himself in the cadet corps. His diligence and abilities so amazed the teaching and command staff that soon Arakcheev became an officer and was appointed a teacher of geometry. However, his cruel treatment of the cadets was the reason for the transfer of Alexei Andreevich to an artillery regiment.
Arakcheev began his career under Pavel Petrovich. From the artillery regiment Alexey Andreevich was sent to serve in Gatchina. Arakcheev quickly made an excellent career in the military units of the heir to Paul, who personally trained them. Pavel very quickly noticed an excellent artilleryman, who was disciplined, efficient, and, moreover, was unusually devoted to his work and to Pavel. Arakcheev becomes a loyal friend to the future emperor, who saw Alexei Andreevich as a reliable support. On the first day of his reign, Paul I joined the hands of Arakcheev and Alexander (the future emperor), instructing them to eternal friendship. Alexey fulfilled this covenant.
Arakcheev's career developed rapidly. In 1796 (that is, at the age of 27), Aleksey Andreevich was already a quartermaster general and a baron, however, soon he was also a count. The coat of arms of this man contained the words famous in history: "Betrayed without flattery." But later they were changed by the people to the following: "The demon is betrayed by flattery."
By the middle of the reign of Paul I, Arakcheev's career failed. This is only partly true. The failure was very short-lived. But it was caused by serious reasons: Arakcheev managed to bring the major to the end of his life. Even the emperor himself was angry at this act. But Paul I did not take offense for a long time - the favorite was forgiven, and his career took off again. Alexey Andreevich was appointed military governor-general of St. Petersburg.
The second disgrace on Arakcheev was much more serious than the first. A.A. Arakcheev, in order to protect the guilty relative, was able to slander a person who had nothing to do with the offense. The emperor doubted the sincerity of Arakcheev's service, as a result of which the Maltese knight (Paul I elevated Alexei Andreevich to this rank) was sent to his family estate. Until the end of Paul's reign, he was engaged in farming on the Gruzino estate in the Novgorod region. However, in March 1801, Paul I again remembered Arakcheev and summoned him to the capital. Alexey Andreevich did not have time to get there (or was prevented) - Emperor Paul was overthrown by conspirators led by Palen.
The beginning of Arakcheev's career under Alexei I falls on 1803. Until that moment, the new emperor did not need Alexey Andreevich. But after the summons of Arakcheev to the capital on April 26, 1803, his career quickly took off - he remained in public affairs for twenty-two years. And although the beginning of the reign of Alexei I was marked by the ascent to the political horizon of another star - M.M. Speransky - after her fall in 1812, the importance of Arakcheev in the eyes of Alexei I grew rapidly. For history, it is not clear how the enlightened Emperor Alexei I could have made such a cruel person like Arakcheev an all-powerful temporary worker. He is both an ardent serf-owner and a supporter of gauntlets; he did not speak any foreign language. But Alexei I at the initial stages even thought about making life easier for the peasants - right up to the abolition of serfdom. Perhaps this choice is explained by Arakcheev's extraordinary diligence in work, Alexei Andreevich's diligence and even honesty (which, in principle, is doubtful, although Arakcheev did not take bribes - but he was very merciless to those caught in this case).
Arakcheev brought enough benefits to the Russian Empire. This moment is always overlooked, since it is difficult to correlate with the amount of evil inflicted on the Arakcheev state. However, Alexey Andreevich managed to put the artillery troops of the Russian Empire in first place in Europe. This turned out to be important in the fight against Napoleon. For example, the decisive battle of the European forces with the French, which took place near Leipzig (known as the "Battle of the Nations") was won by the first, largely thanks to the time of the Russian reserve army that arrived in time. So it was formed by Count Alexey Andreevich Arakcheev.
The heyday of Arakcheev's activity belongs to the period of the end of the wars with Napoleon. In this regard, this time has a specific name - "Arakcheevshchina", the symbol of which was the organization of "military settlements", which began to be introduced in 1816. Their essence consisted in the fact that some of the peasants turned into "military settlers", thereby obliged to engage not only in agricultural work, but also to carry out military service. The idea behind it was to reduce the cost of maintaining the army, because from now on it had to do it on its own. In addition, the newly introduced "Military Settlements" seemed to rid the people of recruiting, but in reality everything turned out to be the opposite: such settlements were unable to replace the army. Therefore, in addition to recruiting, the people have one more additional burden - "military settlements".
Life in the "military settlements" of Arakcheev was placed under strict supervision. The most severe discipline, strict regulation of all aspects of the life of the peasant settlers reigned in the "military settlements". Rural work in the field took place under the close supervision of a corporal. Getting up, eating, going to work and other daily activities took place at a strictly allotted time, and even drumming. It was strictly forbidden to turn on the light at night, to melt the stoves outside the prescribed hour, etc. The service of any villager had to start counting from the age of seven. Marriage between the villagers was possible only with the permission of the higher authorities, which most often prescribed, but did not permit. Along with all of the above, the peasants in the settlements were necessarily engaged in a cane military drill, but if everything did not go according to schedule, then corporal punishment was used. The way of life of the villagers was developed by A.A. Arakcheev, and the glory for this his invention has been preserved in the memory of his contemporaries and descendants. It should be taken into account the fact that military settlements can also find their advantages, for example, cleanliness on the streets and literacy of the peasants entering the settlements, who without fail attended soldiers' schools.
Arakcheev led the massacre of the participants in the uprising in Chuguev. It broke out in the summer of 1819 and lasted for two months. The reason for this uprising was the harsh living conditions in the military settlements. Aleksey Andreevich Arakcheev personally dealt with the dissatisfied with the established regime. The verdict of the chief judge was unusually strict: 52 people who were most guilty of the uprising received twelve thousand blows with rods. Twenty-nine people could not stand such punishment.
Arakcheev was characterized by a merciless attitude towards his peasants. The beloved of Alexei Andreevich Nastasya Minkin was also an ardent serf woman. It is surprising that she herself was a former serf. However, this moment did not prevent her from resembling the famous landowner D. Saltykova, who is known for her inhuman attitude towards the peasants. Her policy led to the fact that she was killed by the same peasants, whom she mocked. This event was marked by the fierce massacre of A.A. Arakcheeva over the participants in the murder of Minkina.
Arakcheev is the author of the project for the abolition of serfdom. As surprising as it sounds, it really is. Obeying Alexei I, he fulfilled his instructions perfectly - the project turned out to be quite good, and the peasants should have received a little more land than N. Muravyov had envisaged when drawing up the program! However, this project was not destined to be realized - Alexey I died.
The death of Alexei I marked the end of the career of Alexei Andreevich Arakcheev. The new emperor Nicholas I could not entrust Arakcheev even with participation in the trial of the Decembrists. The new emperor openly called Alexei Andreevich nothing more than a monster. Arakcheev himself was dismissed, until his death (May 1834) he was not involved in any kind of state affairs.