Background

Alexei Orlov was born in Moscow on October 19th, 1786, and served in Napoleon’s wars from 1805 to the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. He was the commander of the Life Guards cavalry regiment in the 1825 uprising. He later became a count. In addition to having commanded the Turkish army in the 1828–1829 campaign. Orlov’s brilliant diplomatic career begins from this time. Alexei was Catherine’s nephew. She was the Great’s lover of Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, and count Fyodor Grigoryevich Orlov was Alexei’s father. He helped the corrupt general Grigory put Catherine on the throne in 1762.

Appointments

After Alexei Orlov negotiated the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829, he was Russia’s special adviser at the Peace of Adrianople, and in 1833 he was appointed Russian ambassador to Constantinople, also serving as the fleet commander. Indeed, he was Nicholas I’s most trustworthy emissary, who traveled with him to Europe in 1837. He served as head of the Third Section, or secret police, from 1844 to 1856. Orlov also served on a secret committee that recognized and proposed minor reforms for the peasant class in the early 1840s after joining Nicholas as his trusted adviser. In 1844, they commissioned him chief of the third department of the emperor’s cabinet office.

He Became a Prince

Without success, he was sent to Vienna in 1854 to encourage Austria to change sides and join Russia. During the 1856 Paris Peace Conference, he was one of the plenipotentiaries that ended the conflict. The same year he was commissioned leader of the imperial legislative council and the cabinet of ministers, he was elevated to the dignity of a prince. Although the emperor was absent, he took charge of the committee that dealt with the liberation of the serfs.

Count Title

Catherine supervised Alexei Orlov’s education. He enlisted in the army in 1804. Alexei took part in all the campaigns in Russia after 1805, starting with the Napoleonic Wars. However, during the failed Decembrist rebellion in 1825, having attained the position of a cavalry commander, Mikhail Fyodorovich opposed the more radical ideas championed by many Russian officers, including his brother, General Mikhail Fyodorovich Orlov, and he played a part in putting down the uprising. For doing well, Nicholas the Ist bestowed the hereditary title of count on him.

Participation in Wartime Events

During the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, Orlov fought on the Russian side and achieved the rank of lieutenant general. During this time, he served as a member of the Russian representative that decided the peace agreement of Adrianople in 1829. During the Polish Upheaval of 1830–31, Alexei took part in the repression of the rebellion. To boost his nation’s defenses on its southern frontier, he signed a treaty of coalition with Turkey in 1833 that at the same time complicated relations with France and Great Britain.

Military Career

Alexei Orlov’s military career took him to fight in every Napoleonic conflict. He identified himself at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, was awarded a golden sword for courage, and subsequently went to distinguish himself at other significant battles. He was wounded seven times and received the Order of St. Vladimir, 4th class, and the Order of St. George, 4th class military merit in the battle of Borodino in 1812.

After the War

The council sent Alexei Orlov on a mission to Vienna during the Crimean War to ask Austria to remain neutral. After the war, Orlov participated in the peace conference in Paris, which ultimately led him to sign the Treaty of Paris in 1856. He was given the title of prince and named President of the State Council and Minister of the Interior; in 1858, he was responsible for chairing a commission to oversee the liberating issues of the serfs. Even after his considerable influence, Orlov was unable to stop the abolition of slavery before his death. On May 21st, 1862, Alexei Orlov passed away in St. Petersburg.