Gorchakov, Alexander
(1798–1883)
   Russian foreign minister from 1856 to 1882 under Tsar Alexander II. Gorchakov’s main diplomatic mission was to revise Russia’s weakened position resulting from defeat in the Crimean War. To that end Gorchakov threw Russian support behind Prussia in its drive for German unification in competition with Austria. In return for Russian support, Germany endorsed Russia’s remilitarization of the Black Sea in 1871. In Asia, Gorchakov opposed further Russian expansion, and he issued the famous “Gorchakov Circular” to European capitals in December 1864. The circular asserted that Russian expansion was simply a civilizing mission to secure a stable frontier against barbaric nomads and that Russia did not covet a single inch of Central Asian territories from the settled areas of the Uzbek khanates. His assertions proved hollow when Russian armies advanced against the khanates and ultimately conquered them all by 1873.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Geyer, Dietrich. Russian Imperialism: The Interaction of Domestic and Foreign Policy, 1860-1914. New York: Berg, 1987;
    Kazemzedeh, Firuz. Russia and Britain in Persia, 1864-1914. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1968;
    Lieven, Dominic. Empire, The Russian Empire and Its Rivals. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002;
    Ragsdale, Hugh. Imperial Russian Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993;
    Rywkin, Michael. Russian Colonial Expansion to 1917. London: Mansell, 1988.
   JONATHAN GRANT

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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