Great Britain in 1801: before the Signing of the Peace of Amiens (According to Reports of the Priest of the Russian Embassy in London, Yakov Smirnov)
Great Britain in 1801: before the Signing of the Peace of Amiens (According to Reports of the Priest of the Russian Embassy in London, Yakov Smirnov)
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In the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire (AVPRI) reports are stored of the priest of the Russian Embassy in London Ya. I. Smirnov (1754—1840) in the State Collegium of Foreign Affairs (GKID) during the first half of 1801, giving new information to learn not only activities of the British government in a specified period of time and the formulation of Cabinet policy towards Russia and other countries, but the peculiarities of domestic life, and the circumstances of the stay there left during the break in relations in the years 1800—1801 Russian subjects, both civilians and military sailors. Smirnov’s reports to St. Petersburg proved to the representatives of the highest authorities that neither Russia nor any other country would be able to talk to Great Britain from a position of strength. It would be better for continental monarchies if it were their ally. But in this case, if we keep in mind the stable nature of the Anglo-French antagonism of the late 18th — early 19th centuries, London would require entry into the war on its side. Understanding this and relying on information received including from Smirnov, Alexander I in 1804 he proposed to Prime-Minister William Pitt the Younger an Alliance based not on immediate benefits, but on the principles of re-establishing (on a new basis) a “balance of power” in post-war Europe that guarantees peace and stability for all States, large and small. As for the peculiarities of the development of Anglo-Russian relations in the first half of 1801, it is worth paying attention to the fact that Smirnov in November 1800 reported to St. Petersburg about the existence of a “General plan” of the British to counteract the countries that signed the Convention on armed neutrality (“Northern League”). Subsequently, he informed the Russian authorities in detail and accurately about all the movements of the British squadrons. Knowing this, we can correct the established statement in Russian historiography that the measures taken by the British in relation to the ships of the countries participating in the hostile coalition were absolutely treacherous and unexpected for them. On the other hand, the priest insisted on showing his high-ranking recipients that during the most difficult period of the Anglo-Russian breakup, Russian goods are traded on the London stock exchange, even without raising the price. This was to prove that the British were interested in maintaining mutually beneficial trade and would never break with Russia themselves. Economic relations will become a solid basis for the political union of the two countries during the reign of Alexander I.

About authors
Orlov Aleksander
Moscow State Pedagogical University

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