Medals of the Petrine era: from Vaza and Gangut to the Nystadt peace

Medals of the Petrine era: from Vaza and Gangut to the Nystadt peace
Medals of the Petrine era: from Vaza and Gangut to the Nystadt peace

After the unsuccessful Prut campaign of 1711, which almost ended with the capture of Peter and the entire Russian army by the Turks, the consequences of which for the Russian award system we spoke about in the article about the Order of St. Catherine, the main military operations were again transferred to the shores of the Baltic Sea. A small battle near the Finnish city of Vaza was supposed to finally restore the prestige of our army, and the victory in it, for reasons of moral and psychological order, should have been specially noted, as a result of which the medal "For the Vaz battle" appeared. From it we will continue our story about the medals of the Petrine era.


Medal "For the Battle of Vaz"

In February 1714, the Russian detachment of Lieutenant General Mikhail Golitsyn, hero of Noteburg and Poltava, Knight of the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, defeated the Swedes (the corps of Gustav Armfelt) and occupied Vaza.

For the staff officers who participated in the battle (from major to colonel), 33 gold medals were made, of which 6 were "colonel", 13 "lieutenant colonel" and 14 "major", differing in size and weight. Ranks from the captain and below were entitled to "not counting" a monthly salary. The design of the award is interesting. On its reverse, instead of the battle scene familiar by that time, an inscription in six lines was minted: "FOR - VASKU - BATALIA - 1714 - FEBRUARY - 19 DAYS". In the second half of the century, this will be the usual type of Russian medal reverse: only text and date, no figurative composition. For the time of Peter the Great - a unique case.

With the capture of Vaza, the main phase of the land operation in Finland ended, and already on August 7 of the same year, the young Russian fleet showed itself excellently near the Finnish Gangut Peninsula. With many galleys at their disposal, the Russians, with maneuvers on land and sea, confused the Swedes and forced them to divide their forces. Thus, the detachment of Rear Admiral Niels Ehrenskjold (six of the nine galleys available to the Swedes, three skerboats and the battleship Elephant) was sent to the bay west of the peninsula, where it was soon blocked by the main forces of the Russian rowing fleet, which, taking advantage of the complete calm, calmly rowed along the coast, past the uselessly standing still sailing Swedish ships, out of the reach of their guns. “To our great sorrow and chagrin, we had to see how the enemy with his galleys passed us into the skerries,” the Swedish commander-in-chief at Gangut, Admiral Gustav Vatrang, wrote to Charles XII about the beginning of his defeat.


Medal "For Victory at Gangut"

The blocked were offered to surrender immediately, to which Niels Ehrensjöld firmly declared that he "never asked for mercy in his life."

His arrogance was explained by the overwhelming superiority of the Swedes in artillery: 102 guns against 43! Despite this, with the personal participation of Peter himself, ours swiftly attacked the enemy ships and one by one took them on board. Having lost the Ehrenskjold detachment (the admiral himself was captured wounded), the Swedish squadron retreated to the Aland Islands in confusion.

The first major victory of Russia at sea thundered all over Europe and was celebrated especially solemnly in St. Petersburg, where a parade was staged to commemorate it: troops marched under a specially built triumphal arch depicting an eagle (Russia) riding an elephant (the heraldic symbol of Sweden; at the same time, the name captured "Elephanta").

This was followed by the awarding of the medal "For the victory at Gangut", in several stages. In a letter to General-Plenipotentiary-Kriegs-Commissioner Yakov Fedorovich Dolgorukov (this was the ornate title of the position of the head of the commissariat department, which was engaged in clothing, money and food supply of the Russian army), the tsar sketched a rough list in order to “make a red-heart on it and so that on one side that battle was embossed, and also a gold chap, so that it was wet to put on over the shoulder. " In total, the tsar intended to make "gold maneuvers with chap: 3 x 150 chervonnye, 5 x 100, 11 x 70, 21 x 45, 40 x 30", and "without chaps: 50 x 11 chervonnye, 70 x 7, 500 of the Russian case of chervonnye double, 1000 Russian case identical hearts, 1000 ruble manets”. Subsequently, this plan was corrected: huge medals of 150 ducats were not minted, the next in weight, 100 and 70 ducats, were soon returned to the smelting furnace, so that the most significant in every sense were the 45 ducats, hefty gold "chepi".


Gold medal with the inscription on the reverse: "ATTACHMENT AND FAITHFULNESS EXCEEDS STRONGLY"

They were received by the landing brigade leaders Pyotr Lefort and Alexander Volkov, as well as one of the naval commanders, the commander of the galley vanguard, Captain-Commander Matvey Zmaevich. The rest went to army colonels and majors, guards non-commissioned officers - only 144 gold medals and 55 gold chains to them. The army officers, ordinary soldiers and sailors were given silver prints - with exactly the same king on the obverse, a battle scene and an inscription over the date on the reverse:


Thousands of silver medals were not enough for all 3, 5 thousand ordinary participants in the battle, so some veterans had to remind themselves in writing, addressing directly to the king:

“Most Reigning Tsar, Gracious Sovereign, I serve you, your servant, to you the Great Sovereign in the navy in a galley battalion in soldiers and in the past, Sovereign, in 1714 I was named below when I took an enemy frigate and six galleys for battles, and which my brothers are battalion soldiers so, the sailors were at that battle and they received your sovereign coins, but I did not receive your servant, before … according to the list, Sovereign, it is written according to which the coins are given, Dementy Lukyanov, and my name is Dementy Ignatiev … Most Merciful Sovereign, I ask Your Majesty, may your sovereignty command me to your servant for the above-described battle against my brothers to issue your sovereign coins and to issue your sovereign's most merciful decree …”.

The awarding dragged on until 1717, until, at the request of Admiral Fyodor Apraksin, the last batch of awards was minted, to everyone's satisfaction. A few years later, commemorative medals about the Gangut battle, slightly different from the award ones, were made - like the Poltava commemorative medals, they have survived to this day.

After the Gangut victory, Russia became significantly more active at sea. Realizing that the rowing fleet is good only in the conditions of the Baltic skerries, Peter concentrated his main efforts on creating large sailing ships intended for long sea voyages and artillery duels. In addition to battleships and frigates of their own construction, ships were also purchased abroad, from the British and the Dutch. As a result, Russian power by 1719 increased so much that when the united coalition of Holland, Denmark, England and Russia gathered near the island of Bornholm for joint actions against the Swedes, the command of the naval formation was handed over to Tsar Peter. This event was reflected in the commemorative medal, knocked out on the occasion (Neptune in a chariot, with a trident in his right hand, on which the Russian flag flutters, and the inscription “RULES FOUR AT BORNGOLM”).

Alas, the British were not going to seriously oppose Sweden, rather, they wanted, so to speak, to personally control Peter, restraining Russia in the Baltic, otherwise the Northern War could well have ended three years ahead of schedule.But it was too late to stop the Russians: on May 24, the squadron of Captain 2nd Rank Naum Senyavin (six battleships - 52-gun Portsmouth, Devonshire bought from the British, domestic Uriel, Raphael, Varakhail "And" Yagudiil ", built at the Astrakhan shipyard, and the shnyava" Natalia ") intercepted a detachment of Swedish ships coming from the Königsberg port of Pillau and near the island of Ezel, after a three-hour artillery battle forced it to surrender, seriously damaging the 52-gun battleship" Wachmeister ", 35 -cannon frigate "Karlskronvapen", 12-gun brigantine "Berngardus". Russian captains and gunners showed themselves to be such good fellows that only nine officers and sailors were killed on our side, and nine more were wounded! They learned to fight not just by numbers, but also by skill!

The participants in the battle received 11 thousand rubles, which were divided "by rank" among all. The officers and the commander of the Russian formation were separately awarded with gold medals "For the capture of three Swedish ships" with the corresponding "picture" on the reverse and the motto familiar from the Gangut.

The figure of Captain Senyavin is characteristic of that period. Naum Akimovich had an independent disposition, was heavy on the hand and quick to reprisal. Once, offended by the remarks of an adjutant general on his own ship, he beat him up so that he complained to the cabinet secretary:

"We can say that no rogue, which is worthy of abuse, can not be scolded as he did against me, I lay on my bed for more than a week that I cannot turn from the beatings." Sent to Hamburg in January 1719 to take over the frigate and the yacht donated to Peter by the Prussian king, Senyavin, noticing that one Hamburg warship refuses to salute the Russians, for "does not know the Russian flag," without further ado, fired a volley of three guns at it … And a few years earlier, describing the incident with a Dutch ship, which in vain tried to inspect an unarmed battleship that had just been bought from the British and was sailing under the command of Senyavin, our captain summed up:; however, we are only strong here with one flag and a pennant, for which we are not afraid of their entire fleet."

That was the kind of person he was.

England, as we have already said, hindered the establishment of Russia in the Baltic, intrigued as usual, and in August 1719 even sent John Norris' strong flotilla to the Swedish shores to attack the Russian fleet. It did not come to a direct collision then, Norris returned to Foggy Albion, but in the spring of the following year he returned with eighteen battleships and several frigates (so that, as they say, for sure), however, this time without clear instructions. On the day of the sixth anniversary of the Gangut victory, August 7, 1720, right under the British nose, Mikhail Golitsyn's Russian squadron with a feigned retreat lured the Swedes to Grengam Island in the Aland Islands group, and there, using the shallow draft of its galleys, deftly forced the pursuing ships to run aground. An attack and boarding ensued, with the result that four Swedish frigates and several smaller ships were captured with their entire crew. Only the only battleship, badly beaten, and even some trifles, managed to escape.


Commemorative medal in honor of the victory at Bornholm

The question arose of how else to reward the triumphant, Prince Golitsyn. He received as a gift from the king a gold sword adorned with diamonds and a cane studded with jewels. It was decided to award his officers with gold medals. “To Major General Duprei a medal of 40, a chain of 100 ducats. To brigadiers von Mengdin a medal of 30 chervones a chain of 100 chervones Boriatinsky a medal of 30 hearts a chain of 100 chervones. Colonels 7 people, and the newly awarded Colonel Shilov, a total of 8 people medals of 20 ducats, 60 ducats each. For lieutenant colonels 6 people a medal of 15 chains of 50 ducats each.Example majors 9, major engineer 1, a total of 10 people medals of 10 chervony. 9 second-majors, 42 captains, adjutant wing under general 1, secretary under general 1, for a total of 53 people medals for 7 ducats. Lieutenant 58, galley battalion to lieutenant 1, a total of 59 people medals for 6 ducats. Second lieutenants 51, galley battalion second lieutenants 2, adjutants 12, for a total of 65 people medals of 5 ducats. Warrant officers 57, a galley battalion for warrant officer 1, a total of 58 men medals for 3 ducats ", etc., up to boatswains (" silver medals in a ruble ") and army non-commissioned officers (" silver medals 200 in a ruble "). The design of the award was typical: Peter's profile on the obverse, a battle scene on the reverse. Ibid, on the reverse side, a circular inscription:


Interesting is the testimony of a contemporary, Vasily Alexandrovich Nashchokin, about how the medals "For Victory at Grengam" were worn:

“Staff officers on chains of gold were awarded gold medals and, which wore gold medals over their shoulders, and gold medals for chief officers, on a blue narrow ribbon (ribbon of the St. For officers and soldiers, silver portraits on a blue ribbon bow, pinned to a caftan loop, were sewn, with an inscription on those medals about that battle."

Medals of the Petrine era: from Vaza and Gangut to the Nystadt peace

Medal "In Memory of the Nystadt Peace"

So, the Baltic has been cleared of the Swedish fleet. The victorious Russian galleys sabotage the Swedish coast: five thousand troops and several hundreds of Cossacks are already threatening Stockholm.

And Sweden finally surrenders: on August 30, 1721, the long-awaited peace treaty was signed in Nishtadt (now Uusikaupunki in Finland). His conclusion was marked by noisy festivities in the new Russian capital. Among other things, a gala dinner was organized in the Senate for the officers of the Life Guards regiments, at the end of which all of them were awarded gold medals "In memory of the Nystadt Peace." The medal depicts Noah's ark with a flying dove, St. Petersburg, Stockholm and the inscriptions:


The window to Europe was cut, Sweden ceased to exist forever as a great power, and the peoples who participated in the Northern War could now enjoy, albeit short-lived, peace.

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