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Ordin-Nashchokin, Afanasy Lavrentievich


(c. 16051680), military officer, governor, diplomat, boyar.

Afanasy Lavrentievich Ordin-Nashchokin was born to a gentry family near Pskov in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, probably around 1605. He received an unusually good education for a Russian of the time, learning mathematics and several languages, and entered military service at fifteen. Exposed at a young age to foreign customs, he put his insights and ideas to good use throughout his life. In 1642 he helped settle a border dispute with Sweden, honing his talents for careful preparation, thorough investigation, and skillful negotiation. Next he led a mission to Moldavia, gaining experience and valuable information on the Poles, Turks, Cossacks, and Crimeans who populated the tsar's southern borders. For most of the 1650s he served as a military officer and governor of several regions in western Russia. While working to draw the local population to Moscow's side and achieving diplomatic agreements with Cour-land and Brandenburg, he also pondered ways to improve Russia's military, economic, and political standing. In 1658 he was able to achieve some of his greater goals in negotiating the three-year Valiesar truce with Sweden, gaining Russia peace, free trade, Baltic access, and all the territories it had conquered in the region. For this coup Ordin-Nashchokin received the rank of dumny dvoryanin (consiliar noble).

In 1660 his son Voin, likewise educated in foreign languages and customs, fled to Western Europe. A grieving and humiliated Ordin-Nashchokin requested retirement, but the tsar was reluctant to lose his able statesman and refused to hold the father accountable for his son's actions. Ordin-Nashchokin continued to negotiate for peace with Poland and to govern Pskov, becoming okolnichy (a high court rank) in 1665.

The peak of his career came in 1667 when he signed the Andrusovo treaty, ending a long war with Poland and establishing guidelines for a productive peace. For this achievement he was made boyar (the highest Muscovite court rank) and head of the Department of Foreign Affairs (Posolsky Prikaz). The same year he dispatched envoys to nearly a dozen countries to announce the peace and offer diplomatic and commercial ties with Russia. He also drew up the New Commercial Statute, aimed at stimulating and centralizing trade and industry and protecting Russian merchants. Over the next four years as head of Russia's government he enacted administrative reforms; supervised the construction of ships; established regular postal routes between Moscow, Vilna, and Riga; expanded Russia's diplomatic representation abroad; and began the compilation of translated foreign newspapers (kuranty ). The number and character of his innovations have sometimes led to his description as a precursor of Peter the Great.

By 1671, however, his day was passing. Always outspoken and demanding, he began to irritate the tsar with his contentiousness. Worse, his views of international politicshe perceived Poland as Russia's natural ally, Sweden as its natural foeno longer fit Moscow's immediate interests. Artamon Matveyev, the more flexible new favorite, was ready to step in. In 1672 Ordin-Nashchokin retired to a monastery near Pskov to be tonsured under the name Antony. In 1679 he briefly returned to service to negotiate with Poland, but soon retreated to his monastery and died the next year.

See also: andrusovo, peace of; boyar; matveyev, artamon sergeyevich; okolnichy; trade statutes of 1653 and 1667


Kliuchevsky, V. O. (1968). "A Muscovite Statesman. Ordin-Nashchokin." In A Course in Russian History: The Seventeenth Century, tr. Natalie Duddington. Chicago: Quadrangle Books.

O'Brien, C. Bickford. (1974). "Makers of Foreign Policy: Ordin-Nashchokin." East European Quarterly 8: 155165.

Martha Luby Lahana

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