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Baryatinsky, Alexander Ivanovich


(18151879), Viceroy of the Caucasus.

Prince Alexander Ivanovich Baryatinsky, a close friend of Tsar Alexander II (18551881) from childhood, was appointed Viceroy (namestnik ) of the Caucasus in August 1856. This exalted office gave him military and political command of both the mountainous North Caucasus and the lands to the south bordering on Iran and the Ottoman Empire. A courageous veteran of Caucasian wars and former chief of staff to a previous viceroy, Prince Mikhail Vorontsov, Baryatinsky had grandiose ambitions for the Caucasus. He wrote to the tsar, "Russia had become for Asia what Western Europe had represented for so long in Russiathe source and bearer of the world's most advanced civilization. A model administration in the Caucasus would serve as a showcase of Russian colonial policy."

Baryatinsky saw himself as a pacifier (the war with the rebel Shamil still raged in the north) and a modernizer, continuing the civilizing mission of Vorontsov. He was a supporter of the tsar's program for peasant emancipation and negotiated skillfully with the Georgian nobility to convince them to arrange for the liberation of their serfs. But the program of reforms met resistance, not only from Georgian nobles, but from peasants as well, who wanted greater freedom, and Baryatinsky resorted to military repression.

During his years in office the Caucasian wars were brought to an end, and the relations between Georgian nobles and peasants were brought into line with Russian norms. He corresponded with the tsar on military and civilian matters and enjoyed close relations with his sovereign. His health suffered in the next few years, and he asked to be relieved of his post. In 1863 the Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich became Viceroy. The legacy of the first three viceroys was peace and security in the Caucasus and the effective binding of the Georgian nobility to the Russian autocracy as loyal, privileged servants.

See also: caucaus; colonialism; nationalities policies, tsarist


Rieber, Alfred J., ed. (1966). The Politics of Autocracy. Letters of Alexander II to Prince A. I. Bariatinsky 18571864. Paris: Mouton.

Suny, Ronald Grigor, (1988, 1994). The Making of the Georgian Nation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Ronald Grigor Suny

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