Topic: Imperial Russia
Portrait of Count Hilarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov (1868)
Artist: Frederike Emilia O'Connell (1823-1885). State Hermitage Museum
Note: this article has been amended from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
On 8 June (O.S. 27 May) 1837, Hilarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov, was born in St. Petersburg. A notable representative of the Vorontsov family, Vorontsov-Dashkov served as a prominent Russian statesman, military leader, and entrepreneur during the reigns of Emperors Alexander III (1881-1894) and Nicholas II (1894-1917). His most prominent positions included Minister of Imperial Properties in 1881-97 and the Governor General of the Caucasus Viceroyalty (1801–1917) in 1905-15.
Having received a good education at home, Vorontsov-Dashkov entered the Moscow University in 1855. However, having studied only a few months, he entered military service as a volunteer in the Life Guards Horse Regiment and in 1858 was promoted to the rank of cornet. Vorontsov-Dashkov participated in hostilities in the Caucasus: in August 1859 he took part in the assault of Imam Shamil’s headquarters in the village of Gunib in Daghestan. In 1860 the count was made adjutant to the Commander of the Caucasian Army, Prince A. I. Bariatinsky, and two years later became commander of his personal escort.
In 1865, in the rank of colonel, Vorontsov-Dashkov was sent to serve as chief of staff to General D. I. Romanovsky, in Turkestan. In 1866, the count took part in the campaigns of Bukhara, commanded the assault columns in the capture of Uratube and Dzhuzak; was promoted to major general and appointed assistant military governor of the Turkestan Region. However, after the appointment of K. P. von Kaufman as Governor-General of Turkestan, Vorontsov-Dashkov left Central Asia and returned to St. Petersburg.
From 1867 to 1874 he served as commander of the Life Guard Hussar Regiment, and then - Chief of Staff of the Guards Corps under the command of Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich (the future Emperor Alexander III), and at the same time as a member of the Committee for arrangement and formation of the troops and the Council of the General Directorate of the State Horse Breeding. During the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78, the count commanded the Guards Corps and served as chief of cavalry of the Ruschuksky squad, and from October 1878 led the 2nd Guards Infantry Division for the next three years.
After the accession to the throne of Emperor Alexander III in June 1881, Hilarion was appointed chief of His Majesty's Guards and chief superintendent of state breeding. This position was granted to the count owing to his previous work as vice-president of the Imperial Tsarskoye Selo Racing community and the president of the St. Petersburg Imperial Trotter Society. In August 1881 he became Minister of the Imperial Court and the Chancellor of the Chapter of Russian Imperial and Royal Orders. Among other assignments, he also was one of the founders and active members of the "Holy Warriors" - a secret society, designed to protect the Russian Emperor.
In 1893 Vorontsov-Dashkov was appointed chairman of the Committee for considering nominations for the awards. In May 1897 he was dismissed from the posts of chief superintendent and minister and transferred to the State Council of the Russian Empire. On his initiative, the specific capital was turned to the acquisition of landed property. He also participated in the preparation of the "Institution of the Royal Family" (1896) and the work of the Special Council for the Nobility (1897). Instead of the institute of rural chiefs, whose introduction he regarded as detrimental to the financial system of Zemstvo institutions, the count proposed to create an institution of county officers, which would unite in its hands all the functions of government. Vorontsov-Dashkov opposed the restriction of land redistribution, believing it unnecessary to restrict the right of peasants to withdraw from the community, and generally offered to abolish the peasant commune.
The Russian Revolution of 1905 recalled Vorontsov to active service, and he ascended to the helm of the Viceroy of the Caucasus, commander of the troops of the Caucasus Military District and the troop ataman of the Caucasian Cossack troops. On his initiative in 1905 the order to close the Armenian schools was cancelled, and in 1896, he adopted the sequestration of property of the Armenian Apostolic Church, as well as held the provincial and regional meetings for the drafting of the introduction of zemstvo in the Caucasus. During the revolutionary movement in the Caucasus in 1905-1906, he took a number of harsh measures to suppress it.
In 1904-1905, Hilarion served as the chairman of the Russian Red Cross Society, and participated in other community and charitable organizations, donated significant funds to establish scholarships, grants, for the improvement of the Crimea.
With the outbreak of World War I, Vorontsov-Dashkov was appointed commander of the Caucasian Army, but almost took no part in the development of operations and lead of hostilities, having passed the command of the army to General A. Z. Myshlaevsky, and after his dismissal, to General N. N. Yudenich. The jurisdiction of Vorontsov- Dashkov was focused on the questions of the rear of the Russian army. In August 1915, after Emperor Nicholas II assumed command of the Russian armed forces, he replaced Vorontsov-Dashkov with Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich as Viceroy of the Caucasus. A relieved Vorontsov-Dashkov openly wrote to Nicholas II: “Now, I can live out the remainder of my days in peace.” He died within a year.
Count Hilarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov died on 28 January (O.S. 15 January) 1916, in the Vorontsov Palace at Alupka in the Crimea, and was buried in the family estate near the Annunciation Church in the village of Novotomnikovo, Shatsky County (today - Morshansk district, Tambov Region).
Vorontsov-Dashkov received numerous awards, including the Order of St. George, 4th (1867) and 3rd (1915) degrees, of St. Alexander Nevsky (1883), St. Vladimir, 1st degree (1894), St Andrew (1896), French Legion of Honor (1883).
He married in 1867 Countess Elizaveta Andreevna Shuvalova, daughter of Count Andrej Petrovich Shuvalov. His youngest son Alexander's descendents represent the only continuation of the Vorontsov family in the male line.
© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 June, 2016