Vasily V. Galytsin: a Failed Russian Reformer
In the last decade of the 17th and early 18th century practically every sphere of life in Russia was transformed as a result of reforms introduced by Tsar Peter the Great. However, the realization that Russia's institutions were in need of repair predated the reign of Peter I. One of the pioneers of the reform of the Russian state was Count Vasily Vasilyevich Galytsin (1645-1713). In 1682 the ten-year-old Peter and his sixteen-year-old half-brother Ivan were proclaimed joint tsars with their elder sister Sophia as regent. During her seven-year regency (1682-1689) the government was de facto in the hands of her favourite Galytsin, who headed the 'Boyars' Prikaz'. Already during the reign of Tsar Feodor III (1676-1682), Galytsin had begun to work on a programme of reforms of the army, the tax system, and criminal law. However, his greatest success was the signing of the 'Eternal Peace' with Poland in May 1686, a treaty which confirmed Russia's recent territorial acquisitions (the left-bank Ukraine with Kiev). In 1687 and 1689 Galytsin led two disastrous campaigns against the Crimean Tatars, Turkey's vassals. Meanwhile in the Far East Russia lost most of her territorial gains between the Amur and the Okhotsk Sea to China. In Moscow the military setbacks galvanized the opposition to Sophia and led to her overthrow in a coup in August 1689. Count Galytsin was a cultivated, well-read man who spoke several languages, among them Latin and Polish. His admiration for West European culture (whose influence reached Russia mainly by way of Poland) was manifested both in his mental attitudes and choice of dress. His Moscow house, arranged and furnished in Western style, contained a library with an impressive collection of books and manuscripts (about half of them on history and politics). Galytsin residence was also a well-known venue for foreign visitors to Moscow. After Peter I's coup in 1689, Galytsin was banished to Siberia, where he died forgotten.
CEJSH db identifier