Peter I’s Second European Journey and the Arrival of French Masters in St Petersburg
Keywords:18th-century Russian history; St Petersburg; France; Peter I; J.-B. A. Le Blond
In this article, the author analyses the formation of a corps of foreign specialists in Russia. The research is based on archival documents connected with the arrival of French architects, mechanics, hydraulic engineers, stonemasons, and tapestry weavers in St Petersburg between 1716 and 1718. Archival documents from RSAA (RGADA), RSHA (RGIA) and the Archive of the St Petersburg Institute of History, RAS, make it possible to trace the background to this issue and to identify the specific mechanisms and principles for the selecting and hiring these individuals, as well as the peculiarities underlying their arrival and lives in St Petersburg. The author singles out both the general and specific features of the professional activities of the outstanding architect Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond, the craftsman and hydraulic engineer J. Sualem, the blacksmith Guillaume Belen, and the tapestry masters Pierre Camus and Arnoul Masson in the Russian capital. Thus, the study uncovers a real picture of the Russian service of French specialists.