Maria Dmitrievna Nesselrode: Wife of the Chancellor of the Russian Empire

Publication type Article
Status Published
Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
Moscow Pedagogical State University
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameNovaia i noveishaia istoriia
EditionIssue 2

. The article focuses on the life and work of Countess Maria Nesselrode, the wife of the Chancellor of the Russian Empire and the head of the Foreign Ministry, Count Karl von Nesselrode. A whole epoch in the history of the foreign policy of the Russian Empire was associated with his name. However, in the minds of contemporaries, as well as in historiography, a negative, almost caricatured view of his activities was formed. A similar opinion was formed about his wife. What insulting epithets her contemporaries bestowed upon her! It was alleged that Count Nesselrode owed not only his fortune to her, but also his career; that the Countess dominated her “pocket husband” and had a direct influence on his political decisions. However, were these accusations justified, and what was the reason for such attitude? Drawing on the memoirs of contemporaries and, above al,l the correspondence of Maria Nesselrode herself, the article recreates her psychological and political portrait. The author concludes that the Countess was not just a wife, but a genuine assistant and confidante to her husband. With her sharp, shrewd mind and sound judgement about people and events, she did not impose her position on her husband, but only provided him with useful information. Smart, domineering, insightful, influential, and wealthy, naturally, she was the envy and irritation of others, and only opened up to those closest to her. Living at a time when high society and politics were intimately linked, Maria Nesselrode was one of the most influential ladies of European salons.

KeywordsMaria Nesselrode, Karl Nesselrode, political biography, foreign policy, Russian Empire, international relations
AcknowledgmentThe article was written as part of the implementation of the RANEPA state assignment research programme.
Publication date13.05.2022
Number of characters63143
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