Facts and Events
Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin-Tavricheski (r Grigoriy Aleksandrovich Potyomkin-Tavricheskiy; –) was a Russian military leader, statesman, nobleman and favorite of Catherine the Great. He died during negotiations over the Treaty of Jassy, which ended a war with the Ottoman Empire that he had overseen.
Potemkin was born into a family of middle-income noble landowners. He first attracted Catherine's favor for helping in her 1762 coup, then distinguished himself as a military commander in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774). He became Catherine's lover, favorite and possibly her consort. After their passion cooled, he remained her lifelong friend and favored statesman. Catherine obtained for him the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and gave him the title of Prince of the Russian Empire among many others: he was both a Grand Admiral and the head of all of Russia's land and irregular forces. Potemkin's defining achievements include the peaceful annexation of the Crimea (1783) and the successful second Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792). The fall of Ottoman stronghold Izmail that he orchestrated prompted Gavrila Derzhavin and Osip Kozlovsky to write Russia's first national anthem, "Let the thunder of victory sound!".
In 1774, Potemkin became the governor-general of Russia's new southern provinces. An absolute ruler, he worked to colonize the wild steppes, controversially dealing firmly with the Cossacks who lived there. He founded the towns of Kherson, Nikolayev, Sevastopol, and Yekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk). Ports in the region became bases for his new Black Sea Fleet. His rule in the south is associated with the "Potemkin village", a largely fictional method of ruse involving the construction of painted façades to mimic real villages, full of happy, well-fed people, for visiting officials to see. Potemkin was known for his love of women, gambling and material wealth; he oversaw the construction of many historically significant buildings, including the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg. A century after Potemkin's death, his name was given to the Battleship Potemkin, which featured in the 1905 Russian Revolution and was fictionalized in The Battleship Potemkin by Sergey Eisenstein.