The need to revise the phenomenon of favoritism during the reign of Peter I (1682–1725) is due to the conservatism of the Russian historiographic tradition, outside of which the issue was not considered more or less comprehensively. Researchers’ attention was usually focused on «the Tsar’s talent in the field of ... (Show more)
The need to revise the phenomenon of favoritism during the reign of Peter I (1682–1725) is due to the conservatism of the Russian historiographic tradition, outside of which the issue was not considered more or less comprehensively. Researchers’ attention was usually focused on «the Tsar’s talent in the field of personnel policy», the formation of new-type elites around Peter’s inner circle, the so-called «company».
Of course, this phenomenon is considered taking into account the peculiarities of the westernization in the Muscovy in the process of its transformation into an empire. Not the last place in the career of the male favorites of Peter I was played by the Great Northern War of 1700–1721. A useful tool of study can also be a comparison of favoritism in the era of Peter I with this phenomenon at the courts of the monarchs of Europe in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
However, in this report I would like to consider their fate from the point of view of gender and queer sexuality – fields inaccessible to the conservatism of Russian-imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet Russian science. Thus, those relations between the Tsar and the favorite that had (or, as contemporaries considered, had) a sexual component, are subject to research. Through this prism, it is interesting to consider the biography of the long-term favorite of Peter I – Prince Alexander Menshikov. His stay next to the monarch was not only a reference for a representative of the elite of the Petrine era, but also coordinated the careers of favorites of both sexes. In a system of complex interpersonal interaction with the Tsar with the participation of Menshikov involved such famous personalities as Pavel Yaguzhinsky, Anton Devier, Anna Mons, Martha Skavronskaya/Vasilevskaya/Trubachova (future Empress Catherine I) etc.
I believe that studying the environment of Peter I from the point of view of gender and queer history will help to significantly «refresh» the topic and better integrate it into the context of pan-European historical anthropology. This will be helped by my understanding of Russian sources and historiography as a Ukrainian researcher, combined with the European context of the study. Thus, this research will help lift the artificial veil of «Russian mystery» from yet another phenomenon. (Show less)