The Journey of Vice-Chancellor Pyotr Shafirov to Western Europe (1716–1717)


  • Tatiana Bazarova



This article examines various aspects of the activity of Vice-chancellor Pyotr Pavlovich Shafirov (1673–1739) during the journey of Peter the Great to Western Europe between 1716 and 1717. At the beginning of his service, P. P. Shafirov had participated in the Great Embassy (1697–1698) as a translatorof Dutch and German: between 1716 and 1717, he accompanied Peter I during his journey to Western Europe as one of the heads of the Ambassadorial Prikaz (Posolsky Prikaz). Data about Shafirov’s activity during the tsar’s journey and the duties assigned to him can be found in published sources (for example, the field diaries and expense accounts of Peter I, letters and memoirs of foreign participants, etc.) and archival sources. The latter include not only the office materials of the Ambassadorial Prikaz (RGADA) but also letters the vice-chancellor exchanged with his wife, A. D. Menshikov, and F. M. Apraksin. An examination of correspondence shows that the vice-chancellor had to deviate from the tsar’s route to carry out various assignments. During his trip abroad, Peter I concluded two treaties of alliance, those of Mecklenburg (1716) and Amsterdam (1717). Shafirov played one of the leading roles in the negotiations, drafting the texts of both agreements. After the failure of the allied assault on Skåne (1716), the vice-chancellor, along with G. I. Golovkin, B. I. Kurakin, and P. A. Tolstoy, tried to prevent the disintegration of the Northern Union through diplomacy. In addition to solving diplomatic problems, Shafirov carried out other assignments from the tsar. The vice-chancellor bought useful objects and luxury items for the tsar and tsarina in Paris. He was responsible for hiring sailors for the Russian service in Amsterdam and Hamburg and sending Western European specialists to Russia in 1717. For this purpose, he was provided with considerable sums from the state treasury. A few years after the trip to Western Europe, Shafirov was suspected of embezzlement, which led to judicial investigations. In 1720, the Revision Collegium required the vice-chancellor to provide correspondence, bills, and receipts for the hiring of officers and sailors. The question of Sharfirov’s embezzlement was still being raised by investigators as late as 1723.

Author Biography

Tatiana Bazarova

PhD (History), Head of Scientific and Historical Archive and Group of Source Studies, St Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

7, Petrozavodskaya Str., 197110, St Petersburg, Russia.


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How to Cite

Bazarova, T. (2018). The Journey of Vice-Chancellor Pyotr Shafirov to Western Europe (1716–1717). Quaestio Rossica, 6(1), 46–62.



Problema voluminis