Vladimir Lambsdorff
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

 Vladimir Nikolayevich Lamsdorf (Russian: Владимир Николаевич Ламсдорф, Lamsdorf, ) was a Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n statesman of Baltic German
Baltic German
The Baltic Germans were mostly ethnically German inhabitants of the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, which today form the countries of Estonia and Latvia. The Baltic German population never made up more than 10% of the total. They formed the social, commercial, political and cultural élite in...

 descent who served as Foreign Minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

 of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 from 1900 1906, a crucial period which included the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 and the Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...


Early career

Like so many other Russian diplomats, Lamsdorf was trained in the Alexander Lyceum
Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum
The Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg also known historically as the Imperial Alexander Lyceum after its founder the Emperor Alexander I with the object of educating youths of the best families, who should afterwards occupy important posts in the Imperial service.Its...

 in St. Petersburg. At the Berlin Congress he was in the retinue of Prince Alexander Gorchakov, the Chancellor of the Russian Empire. In 1884 the young diplomat was present at the meeting of Alexander III of Russia
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

, Wilhelm I of Prussia and Franz Josef of Austria in Skierniewice
Skierniewice is a town in central Poland with 49,132 inhabitants , situated in the Łódź Voivodship , previously capital of Skierniewice Voivodship . It is the capital of Skierniewice County. The town is situated almost exactly half-way between Łódź and Warsaw.Skierniewice gained municipal rights...

 and Kroměříž
Kroměříž is a town in the Zlín Region of the Czech Republic. The town's main landmark is the Baroque Kroměříž Bishop's Palace, where some scenes from Amadeus and Immortal Beloved were filmed...


Gorchakov's successor, Nicholas de Giers
Nicholas de Giers
Nicholas de Giers was a Russian Foreign Minister during the reign of Alexander III. He was one of the architects of the Franco-Russian Alliance, which was later transformed into the Triple Entente.- Biography :...

, singled out Lamsdorf as his protégé and prospective successor. During the 1880s, he was a vocal supporter of the Three Emperors' League but shifted his views after Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

's resignation in 1890. In 1897 he was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister. He played a major role at the First Hague Peace Conference of 1899. There was a fair degree of continuity in policies when he succeeded Mikhail Muraviev
Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov
Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov was a Russian statesman who advocated transferring the attention of Russian foreign policy from Europe to the Far East...

 three years later in 1900.

Foreign Minister

Lamsdorf's main concerns revolved around the Eastern Question
Eastern Question
The "Eastern Question", in European history, encompasses the diplomatic and political problems posed by the decay of the Ottoman Empire. The expression does not apply to any one particular problem, but instead includes a variety of issues raised during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including...

 and the proposed administrative reform of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 towards strengthening and protecting Russia's position in the Balkans. In late 1902 he personally visited Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

, Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

 and Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 to discuss the Balkan impasse with Nikola Pašić
Nikola Pašic
Nikola P. Pašić was a Serbian and Yugoslav politician and diplomat, the most important Serbian political figure for almost 40 years, leader of the People's Radical Party who, among other posts, was twice a mayor of Belgrade...

, Hristo Tatarchev
Hristo Tatarchev
Hristo Tatarchev was a Bulgarian revolutionary and first leader of the revolutionary movement in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace . He wrote the memoirs The First Central Committee of the IMRO . He authored several political journalism works between the First and Second World Wars...

, Agenor Maria Gołuchowski, and their monarchs. In September 1903 he accompanied Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 to Vienna and Mürzzuschlag
Mürzzuschlag is a town in northeastern Styria, Austria, the capital of the Mürzzuschlag District. It is located on the Mürz river near the Semmering Pass, the border with the state of Lower Austria, about southwest of Vienna. The population is 8,745...

.Lamsdorf was anxious to prevent the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the face of Slavic nationalism and emphatically condemned the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising
Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising
The Ilinden–Preobrazhenie Uprising or simply the Ilinden Uprising of August 1903 |Macedonia]] affected most of the central and southwestern parts of the Monastir Vilayet receiving the support mainly of the local Bulgarian peasants and to some extent of the Aromanian population of the region...

 and other activities of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. He was also sympathetic to the Zionist cause, as promoted by Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...


The main event of Lamsdorf's tenure in office was the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

. He proposed to relinquish Russia's impractical ambitions in Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 in order to safeguard her interests in Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

. He viewed Pacific politics as something of a sideshow and was steadily sidelined by the jingoist hard-liners from the military. In terms of Far Eastern politics, Admiral Yevgeni Ivanovich Alekseyev exerted more influence on the Tsar, to whom he had direct access in his capacity of chairman of the semi-official Committee on Far Eastern Affairs. As a result of Alekseyev's activities, Russia reneged on her promise to evacuate Manchuria by 1902, and events continued their downward spiral to war, with Lamsdorf seemingly resigned to its inevitability.

During and after the war, Lamsdorf was to a large degree overshadowed by the stronger personality of his close associate, Count Sergey Witte. Together they negotiated the Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth
The Treaty of Portsmouth formally ended the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. It was signed on September 5, 1905 after negotiations at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine in the USA.-Negotiations:...

, only to learn, upon their return to St. Petersburg, that the Tsar had secretly signed the Treaty of Björkö
Treaty of Björkö
The Treaty of Björkö, known as the Treaty of Koivisto in modern Finland, was a secret mutual defense accord signed on July 24, 1905 between Wilhelm II of the German Empire and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.-Secret meeting:...

 with Imperial Germany. It was owing to their efforts that the projected Russian-German alliance against Britain never came into effect. This earned Lamsdorf the enmity of both German government and press. If the Tsar had not listened to the arguments of Witte and Lamsdorf, "the whole history of Europe and of the world could have been different".

When eventually relieved of his duties in 1906, Lamsdorf prided himself on having maintained a position equidistant from both Potsdam and Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

. He compared Russia's standing in Europe to "that of a rich bride which none wanted to see fall into the arms of another". Lamsdorf's decidedly cool attitude to both British and German empires was demonstrated by his handling of the Dogger Bank incident
Dogger Bank incident
The Dogger Bank incident occurred when the Russian Baltic Fleet mistook some British trawlers at Dogger Bank for an Imperial Japanese Navy force....

 and the Treaty of Björkö
Treaty of Björkö
The Treaty of Björkö, known as the Treaty of Koivisto in modern Finland, was a secret mutual defense accord signed on July 24, 1905 between Wilhelm II of the German Empire and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.-Secret meeting:...



Lamsdorf was described by his contemporaries as a "leisurely, well-bred man of good society... with a very high forehead and a soft affable manner". He never married and fathered no children. Rumors about his sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

 were often exploited by his enemies to undermine his authority at court. A characteristic excerpt from Suvorin's diary: "The Tsar calls Lamsdorf madame and promotes his lover Savitsky within the ranks of the count. Lamsdorf boasts that he spent thirty years in the corridors of the Foreign Ministry. As he is a homosexual and all men are for him sluts, he thus spent thirty years in a bordello". At his resignation, Lamsdorf was admitted into the State Council of Imperial Russia
State Council of Imperial Russia
The State Council was the supreme state advisory body to the Tsar in Imperial Russia.-18th century:Early Tsars' Councils were small and dealt primarily with the external politics....

 but chose to spend the few remaining months of his life on the Italian Riviera
Italian Riviera
The Italian Riviera, or Ligurian Riviera is the narrow coastal strip which lies between the Ligurian Sea and the mountain chain formed by the Maritime Alps and the Apennines...

, where he died (in San Remo
Sanremo or San Remo is a city with about 57,000 inhabitants on the Mediterranean coast of western Liguria in north-western Italy. Founded in Roman times, the city is best known as a tourist destination on the Italian Riviera. It hosts numerous cultural events, such as the Sanremo Music Festival...

) at the age of 62.
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