The Russian Residency in Constantinople, 1700-1774: Russian-Ottoman Diplomatic Encounters
Amelicheva, Mariya Vladimirovna
Russia entered the international framework of resident diplomacy during the reign of Peter I, just as the Ottomans were beginning to reconsider their traditional approach to diplomacy after the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699). While earlier studies have emphasized military conflicts and strategic competition between St. Petersburg and Constantinople as hallmarks of their contacts in the eighteenth century, the present dissertation examines the ways in which the two empires’ engagement with each other was dominated by diplomacy.I utilize rare sources from the Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire (AVPRI) and Turkish-language scholarship to trace the development of and contextualize the activities of the Russian diplomatic mission in Constantinople. I study the individual diplomats’ educational and professional backgrounds as well as the diplomatic traditions and institutional foundations of Russian foreign policy. I see the meticulous attention paid by Russian rulers and statesmen to the quality and efficiency of their diplomatic representatives in Constantinople, as elsewhere, as one of the contributing factors to the strengthening of Russia’s international positions in the eighteenth century.The long residency of Aleksei Obreskov (1751-1768) serves as the case study for analyzing the development and application of Russian foreign policy. His ability to understand and influence Ottoman foreign policy through direct presence in Constantinople and skillful use of the local intelligence network was indispensible to several Russian rulers in advancing their goals in the Ottoman Empire and Europe. In fact, both sides resorted to diplomacy more often than to aggression. The primacy of the diplomatic approach was evident during the Seven Years’ War, when Frederick II of Prussia failed to entice the Sublime Porte to attack Austria and Russia, and during most of the 1760s, when Obreskov was fairly successful in preventing the Porte from interfering in the Polish succession crisis against Russia. However, the imperial ambitions of Catherine II and Mustafa III became the key destabilizing factors in mutual relations.Finally, the extensive foray into Obreskov’s career on the Bosphorus helps us better understand his role in negotiating the final text, including the more controversial articles, of the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca.
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