Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov

Prince Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov (Russian: Князь Михаи́л Семёнович Воронцо́в, tr. Michaíl Semënovič Voroncóv; 30 May [O.S. 19] 1782 – 18 November [O.S. 6] 1856) was a Russian nobleman and field-marshal, renowned for his success in the Napoleonic wars and most famous for his participation in the Caucasian War from 1844 to 1853.

Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov
Dawe, Mikhail Vorontsov.jpg
Portrait of Vorontsov by George Dawe, c. 1820
Viceroy of Caucasus
In office
Preceded byAleksandr Neidgardt
Succeeded byNikolai Read
Personal details
Born30 May [O.S. 19] 1782
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died18 November [O.S. 6] 1856 (aged 74)
Odessa, Kherson Governorate, Russian Empire
SpouseCountess Elżbieta Branicka
RelationsCatherine Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (sister)
Parent(s)Semyon Vorontsov
Ekaterina Alekseevna Seniavina
Military service
Allegiance Russian Empire
Branch/serviceImperial Russian Army
Years of service1803–1856
RankField Marshal

Early lifeEdit

Vorontsov was born on 30 May 1782, in Saint Petersburg in the Russian Empire.[1] He was the only of Ekaterina Alekseevna Seniavina and Count Semyon Vorontsov. Mikail and his sister, Catherine (who later became the wife of George Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke), spent their childhood and youth with his father in London, where his father was the Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom.[2][3]

He was the nephew of Imperial Chancellor Alexander Vorontsov, Elizaveta Vorontsova and Princess Dashkova, a friend of Catherine the Great and a conspirator in the coup d'état that deposed Tsar Peter III and put his wife on the throne.[4]


Portrait of Prince Mikhail Vorontsov by Thomas Lawrence, 1821

From 1803 to 1804, he served in the Caucasus under Pavel Tsitsianov and Gulyakov.[5] From 1805 to 1807, he served in the Napoleonic wars, and was present at the battles of Pułtusk and Friedland. From 1809 to 1811 he participated in the Russo-Turkish War.[5]

He commanded the composite grenadiers division in Prince Petr Bagration's Second Western Army during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. At the battle of Borodino, his division was in the front line and was attacked by three French divisions under Marshal Davout. Of the 4,000 men in his division, only 300 survived the battle. Vorontsov was wounded but recovered to rejoin the army in 1813. He commanded a new grenadiers division and fought at the battle of Dennewitz and the battle of Leipzig.[citation needed] He was the commander of the corps of occupation in France from 1815 to 1818.[5]

On 7 May 1823 he was appointed governor-general of New Russia, as the southern provinces of the empire were then called, and namestnik of Bessarabia. In the year of the start of the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829, Vorontsov succeeded the wounded Menshikov as commander of the forces besieging Varna, which he captured on 28 September 1828. It was through his energetic efforts that the plague, which had broken out in Turkey, did not penetrate into Russia.[5]

In 1844, Vorontsov was appointed commander-in-chief and viceroy of the Caucasus. For military details see Murid War. At the battle of Dargo (1845), he was nearly defeated and barely fought his way out of the Chechen forest. By 1848 he had captured two-thirds of Dagestan, and the situation of the Russians in the Caucasus, so long almost desperate, was steadily improving.[5] For his campaign against Shamil, and for his difficult march through the dangerous forests of Ichkeria, he was raised to the dignity of prince, with the title of Serene Highness. In the beginning of 1853, Vorontsov was allowed to retire because of his increasing infirmities. He was made a field-marshal in 1856, and died the same year at Odessa.[5] His archives were published, in 40 volumes, by Pyotr Bartenev between 1870 and 1897.

Personal lifeEdit

Elizabeth Branicka Vorontsov, by George Hayter

Vorontsov was married to Polish Countess Elżbieta "Elisabeth" Branicka, a daughter of Count Franciszek Ksawery Branicki and Aleksandra von Engelhardt (a member of the powerful Engelhardt family). Her brother was Count Władysław Grzegorz Branicki who married Countess Róża Potocka (daughter of Stanisław Szczęsny Potocki). His wife reportedly had a liaison with Alexander Pushkin during her stay in Odessa, which resulted in some of the finest poems in the Russian language.[citation needed] Together, Mikhail and Elisabeth were the parents of:

  • Prince Semyon Mikhailovich Vorontsov (1823–1882), who began construction of Massandra Palace upon his return from the Russo-Turkish War but died before completion; he married, against his parents' wishes, Madame Stolypina, née Princess Trubetskay, in Alupka in 1851.
  • Princess Sofya Mikhailovna Vorontsova (1825–1879), who married Count Andrey Pavlovich Shuvalov in 1844.

Prince Vorontsov 18 November 1856 in Odessa.


As his son died without issue, his grandson through his daughter Sofya, Count Mikhail Andreyevich Shuvalov (1850–1903), inherited the title of Prince Vorontsov. Upon his death, without issue in 1903, the Vorontsov fortune passed to his elder sister, Countess Elizabeth Andreevna Shuvalova (1845–1924), who had married Count Illarion Vorontsov-Dashkov.


Between 1828 and 1848, Vorontsov built Vorontsov Palace as a summer residence at a cost of 9 million roubles.[6] The palace is located at the foot of the Crimean Mountains near the town of Alupka in Crimea.[7] Today, it is one of the oldest and largest palaces in Crimea and one of the most popular tourist attractions on Crimea's southern coast.[8][9] It was designed in a loose interpretation of the English Renaissance revival style by English architect Edward Blore and his assistant William Hunt.[9][10] The building is a hybrid of several architectural styles, but faithful to none. Among those styles are elements of Scottish Baronial,[11] Indo-Saracenic Revival Architecture,[12] and Gothic Revival architecture.[7] The house stayed in the family until the after four years after the October Revolution, when it was nationalised in 1921 and converted into a museum.[6]

A statue of Prince Vorontsov was unveiled in Odessa in 1863. In front of the monument stands the Transfiguration Cathedral with the marble tombs of Prince Vorontsov and his wife. After the Soviets demolished the cathedral in 1936, Vorontsov's remains were secretly reburied in a local cemetery.[citation needed] The cathedral was rebuilt in the early 2000s. The remains of Vorontsov and his wife were solemnly transferred to the church in 2005.


  1. ^ Cave 1857.
  2. ^ Keegan, John; Wheatcroft, Andrew (12 May 2014). Who's Who in Military History: From 1453 to the Present Day. Routledge. p. 327. ISBN 978-1-136-41416-9. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  3. ^ Chisholm, Hugh (1911). The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Vol. 28. At the University Press. p. 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  4. ^ Rhinelander, Anthony Laurens Hamilton (1990). Prince Michael Vorontsov: Viceroy to the Tsar. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-7735-0747-0. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Vorontsov s.v. Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 213.
  6. ^ a b "Vorontsovsky palace". Zabytki (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  7. ^ a b Ivchenko & Parkhomenko 2010, p. 290.
  8. ^ Zharikov 1983–1986, p. 299.
  9. ^ a b Malikenaite 2003, p. 60.
  10. ^ "Vorontsovsky palace". Qrim.ru (in Russian). 31 October 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  11. ^ Gilbert 1992, p. 817.
  12. ^ Brett, p?


External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded byas acting Governor-General Governor-General of Novorossiya
and Viceroy of Bessarabia Region

19 May 1823 – 5 November 1844
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Aleksandr Neidgardt
as High Commissioner of Caucasus
Viceroy of Caucasus
1844 – 1854
Succeeded by
Nikolai Read
as acting Viceroy