Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin was born in 1739 in the family of a poor landowner. Here he showed himself very extraordinary: he could go headlong into the study of sciences, but he could become so indifferent to them that he stopped going to classes.
For the latter Potemkin was expelled from the university. Grigory Alexandrovich decided to look for luck in the military field. This, however, was preceded by the post of assistant to the chief prosecutor of the Synod (from 1763) and the court service as chamberlain (from 1768).
Potemkin was not satisfied with the service he was carrying, so he turned to Catherine the Great with a request to send him to the theater of military operations - and at that time there was a war with the Ottoman Empire in the south. After Potemkin distinguished himself in the battles at Focsani in 1770, and a year earlier in the assault on Khotin, he was summoned by Catherine II to the court. Since then, he has become her favorite.
Gregory is the son of a poor landowner. The man who left such a noticeable mark in history was born into the family of a Smolensk landowner. For this status, the best option was to rise to the rank of colonel. But fate gave Potemkin a different role.
Potemkin particularly distinguished himself in carrying out the coup of 1762. But Ekaterina Alekseevna nevertheless noticed the tall officer. Grigory Alexandrovich was awarded ten thousand rubles and 400 serfs. From that time on, the empress oversaw his career. And Potemkin himself occasionally reminded her of his existence.
Potemkin turned out to be the only favorite whom Catherine II trusted until the end of her life. Actually, Grigory Alexandrovich was the favorite for only two years, then he acted as an outstanding statesman.
There are several versions of how Potemkin lost one eye in 1762. According to one of them, it happened in a duel, the second says about a fight that took place between Potemkin and Orlov. More likely is the description of Grigory Alexandrovich's nephew - Count Samoilov. He told about Potemkin's eye disease, who most likely became a victim of the healer. He recommended him a special lotion. But it was from her that Potemkin became worse - a growth formed on the eye. Gregory decided to remove it with a pin because of this and lost his eye.
Potemkin very quickly became an influential person at court. When the empress at the end of 1773 expressed a desire for Potemkin to appear in Petersburg (he was serving in the military at that time), he immediately, full of joy and hope, fulfilled her demand. In March 1774, he already had the rank of Adjutant General. Catherine the Great could not get enough of him: Potemkin had tremendous energy, he grasped everything on the fly. He was appreciated not only by Catherine II, but also by many diplomats.
Catherine II called Grigory Alexandrovich her student. Those two years during which Potemkin was a favorite played the role of a school for him. Here Grigory Alexandrovich gained experience in public service.
Catherine II was satisfied with Potemkin's activities. The awards and awards that the empress bestowed on Potemkin are evidence of her benevolent attitude towards him. It is interesting that for two years of Grigory Alexandrovich's stay as a favorite, he was awarded all the famous orders of Russia and many foreign orders. For example, in 1775, in honor of the conclusion of the Kuchuk-Kainardzhiyskiy peace treaty, Potemkin was awarded one hundred thousand rubles, a golden sword (which was also covered with diamonds) and the Order of St. Andrew. Grigory Alexandrovich received the count's dignity.
Grigory Alexandrovich was secretly married to Catherine II. It is not known exactly about this fact, but such an assumption has the right to exist. Moreover, Catherine the Great herself in her letters called Potemkin "dear husband" and "gentle husband".
Parting with her favorite, the Empress presented him with generous awards. On March 21, 1776, Catherine II informed Grigory Alexandrovich about the award of the princely dignity of the Roman Empire - he began to be called the Most Serene Prince. And already in May of the same year, Catherine the Great sent a note to Potemkin, which spoke of the termination of their close relationship. However, the correspondence between them continued for the next fifteen years. Only the letters for the most part became official.
Potemkin possessed outstanding organizational skills. They were fully manifested in the economic activities of Potemkin in the south of Russia. Its main task was the economic development of the Northern Black Sea region. It included the founding of new cities, their settlement, the development of agriculture, etc. And the territory itself was large - in 1775 Grigory Alexandrovich became the governor of Novorossiya, which included Novorossiysk and Azov provinces. The territory of the latter was ceded to Russia according to the Kuchuk-Kainardzhiyskiy peace in 1775.
Potemkin very quickly achieved significant results in resettlement policy. This is evidenced by the following statistical data: in 1774 the population of the Novorossiysk province barely reached 200 thousand people, then by 1793 it turned out to be about 820 thousand people - that is, in just two decades, the population of this province increased more than 4 times.
The emergence of many new cities is associated with the name of Grigory Alexandrovich. In 1778 the city of Kherson was founded. The importance of this city cannot be overestimated: it was supposed to act as the most important center of the Black Sea Fleet under construction and the main port that would connect the Russian Empire with the Mediterranean countries. In the same year, the city of Yekaterinoslav was founded - in honor of the efforts of Empress Catherine the Great in the development of this region. Thanks to Potemkin, the cities of Pavlograd, Nikolaev, Nikopol and others arose.
Grigory Alexandrovich actively participated in the annexation of the territory of the Crimea and the Russian Empire. Although it remained cut off from the Ottoman Empire (communication with the outside world was possible only by sea, and the Crimeans did not have their own fleet), it took several years to wait for its annexation. Potemkin was very supportive and even fueled the empress's desire to annex Crimea to Russia. When Potemkin spoke to Catherine II about the importance of the Crimea, he also mentioned the glory that the empress would have if she received Crimea along with domination of the Black Sea. On April 8, 1783, a decree was published on the annexation of the Crimea.
The economic development of the Tauride region fell on the shoulders of G.A. Potemkin. Tauride region is the former Crimean Khanate. After the annexation of Crimea, about a third of the population remained in this territory, which was associated with the relocation of some Christians to the Russian Empire, and the Tatars to Turkey.
In order to increase the population of the Tauride region, Potemkin in 1785 ordered his recruiting wives to move to this territory. Also, retired soldiers, government officials and fugitive peasants were to join the ranks of local residents. With regard to the latter, it can be said that Potemkin, along with the empress, valued the interests of the state more than the interests of the landowners. That is why fugitive peasants could live in the Tauride region.
Catherine II personally checked Potemkin's work in 1787. This was the famous trip of the Empress to the Crimea. She was satisfied with the work of Grigory Alexandrovich, about which she often spoke both to Potemkin himself and in public.
Contemporaries were not satisfied with Potemkin's activities as president of the Military Collegium. They didn't particularly like how he builds fortresses, what he does for the army. This was partly due to the fact that the Military Collegium was located in St. Petersburg, and Grigory Alexandrovich was there quite rarely - on short visits. In addition to this, Potemkin did not like all this routine office, he strove for a lively business. But despite all this, Grigory Alexandrovich deserved good words from the soldiers, who were grateful to him for the introduction of a new uniform. After all, the old uniform hampered their movements, it was not very comfortable in it in bad weather, it was even difficult to keep it in the established order.
Grigory Potemkin is the founder of the Black Sea Fleet. Already in 1781, the first ship was launched, which bore the name in honor of the Empress - "Glory to Catherine". In the shortest possible time at the shipyards of Kherson, Sevastopol and Taganrog a powerful fleet was built, consisting of battleships and frigates. The city of Sevastopol, which Grigory Alexandrovich began to strengthen from the moment of the annexation of the Crimea, began to represent the parking lot of the Black Sea Fleet.
Potemkin is a commander. This man became famous for many of his deeds, including in the role of the commander-in-chief of the Russian army. This position was not very familiar to him, and if during the years of the Russian-Turkish war - 1787-1791 - there were no such wonderful generals as Suvorov and Rumyantsev near Potemkin, then Grigory Alexandrovich would have had a very difficult time. Of course, Empress Catherine the Great helped him in everything and supported him with all her might.
For the capture of Ochakov, Catherine II generously rewarded Potemkin. Although she had to wait for this moment for a very long time. On December 6, 1788, the fortress was taken. This victory cost a lot. In spite of all this, Catherine the Great granted Grigory Alexandrovich a field marshal's baton (by the way, he was all strewn with precious stones), a golden sword, one hundred thousand rubles, awarded him the Order of George 1st degree, and also ordered to knock out a medal in honor of Potemkin, on which there should have been an inscription "Diligence and courage".
February 28, 1791 G.A. Potemkin came to Petersburg for the last time. In honor of his arrival, a grandiose triumphal procession was organized (more magnificent than after the capture of Ochakov). All his way to the capital was illuminated at night. All the nobility gathered to see him. Never before had Grigory Alexandrovich had such an influence on Empress Catherine the Great. On July 24, 1791, Potemkin went to the active army with the aim of concluding peace with the Ottoman Empire. But the prince did not have time to complete this business - on October 5 of this year he died of a serious illness. It remains only to wonder what a big mark this man left in Russian history.