Franz Yakovlevich Lefort (French Francois Le Fort, German Franz Jakob Lefort, December 23, 1655 (January 2, 1656), Geneva - March 2 (12), 1699, Moscow) - Russian statesman and military leader, general-admiral, associate of Peter I ...
Franz Yakovlevich Lefort was born in 1656. He was the son of a Geneva merchant. Until 1670, Franz studied at the Collegium of Geneva, after which he went to study trade in Marseille. In 1674, he decided to start military service in Holland, and soon arrived in Russia. Lefort took an active part in the Crimean and Azov campaigns. In 1689, a close friendship developed between him and Peter I. After the first Azov campaign, Franz Yakovlevich received the rank of admiral of the Russian fleet. Formally, Lefort was at the head of the Grand Embassy.
Lefort was not satisfied with his trade studies. In 1674 Franz Yakovlevich went to Holland. Parents, by the way, did not approve of their son's decisions. Thus, Lefort began his military service among the retinue of Friedrich-Casimir, the Duke of Courland. However, soon Franz Yakovlevich came to Moscow with the rank of captain. The whole later life of Lefort was firmly connected with Russia.
V.V. Golitsyn is the patron saint of F.Ya. Lefort. In 1681, Lefort received a vacation, immediately after which he went to his homeland - to Geneva. The persuasions of relatives to stay in these parts did not affect the decision of Franz Yakovlevich to serve in Russia, where he arrived at the end of his vacation. Here Lefort learned that the Russian Tsar Fyodor Alekseevich had died and the sister of Ivan and Peter, Princess Sophia, became the de facto ruler. It was her favorite who began to patronize Lefort, who already in 1683 became a lieutenant colonel, which was very noisy celebrated in the German settlement.
Lefort took part in the Crimean campaigns. Their organizer was V.V. Golitsyn. The campaigns of 1687 and 1689 were unsuccessful. All the way Golitsyn was accompanied by F.Ya. Lefort. After the first Crimean campaign, Franz Yakovlevich was promoted to colonel.
Lefort's friendship with Peter I began in 1689. In the fall of this year, Peter became very close to Lefort and Gordon (who was a relative of the wife of Franz Yakovlevich). True, Patriarch Joachim did not like this rapprochement, who was sharply against the friendship of the tsar with foreigners (and to many adherents of old Moscow customs, it seemed something impermissible). By the way, Peter himself was able to openly visit the German settlement, where his new acquaintances lived, only after the death of Joachim - in 1690. The young tsar had a strong attraction to everything European: he even introduced a foreign dress into his everyday wardrobe.
Peter I showed signs of his friendship to Lefort. In honor of the birth of the heir, Tsarevich Alexei, the Tsar granted Franz Yakovlevich the rank of Major General. And after, as a large number of events (including feasts) were held in the Lefort house (on the banks of the Yauza River), it became necessary to expand it, Peter I generously gave Franz Yakovlevich a significant amount of money to implement this plan. The hall attached to the house was very richly decorated: furnished with magnificent furniture, covered with excellent wallpaper, it contained a large number of luxury goods. Expensive sculptures, paintings, carpets, weapons, dishes - everything here exuded exquisite taste. Lefort had a huge number of servants. The tsar himself, visiting his friend, felt a special atmosphere - he was taking a break from the usual way of life in Moscow.
F.Ya. Lefort participated in many of the affairs carried out by Peter. Franz Yakovlevich was a regiment commander and participated in demonstration land battles near Moscow, "amusing" maneuvers (one of which almost ended in the injury of Franz Yakovlevich), Lefort was next to the tsar during his travels to Arkhangelsk (1693 and 1694), etc. etc.
Lefort was directly involved in the Azov campaigns (1695 and 1696). On August 5, 1695, during the first assault on Azov, Franz Yakovlevich served as corps commander. In the battles for Azov, Lefort captured one of the Turkish banners with his own hand. The second Azov campaign was more successful than the first. Thanks to the quickly created fleet, Russian troops managed to block the access of Turkish ships to Azov - in the summer of 1696 it was taken.
Franz Yakovlevich - Admiral of the Russian Navy. Lefort received this title immediately after the first Azov campaign. True, many were amazed at why Lefort, living in such a land country as Russia, received just such a title. The explanation for this, most likely, lies in the desire of Peter I to create his own Russian fleet. And in this matter, the king relied on the energy and zeal of his friend.
During the second Azov campaign, Lefort fell seriously ill. The state of health of Franz Yakovlevich deteriorated sharply: already to Azov, due to poor health, Lefort had to move on a ship specially designed for him. Lefort returned from the campaign in a well-equipped sleigh - this was done to avoid the onset of pain during jolts, which occur when riding in a wheeled carriage. Franz Yakovlevich recovered from his illness only by November 1696 - and again his house opened its doors to guests.
On the occasion of the capture of Azov, Lefort was gifted by Peter I. Franz Yakovlevich was granted estates in Ryazan and Epifan districts, a sable fur coat, and a gold medal. He received the title of Novgorod governor.
Lefort headed the Grand Embassy. After Peter I planned a trip to Western Europe, in March 1697, under the guise of a carpenter, he went to the Great Embassy. Formally, it was headed by Franz Yakovlevich Lefort, but his role was mainly in the translation of Peter Alekseevich's speeches. However, in fact, the diplomat F.A. Golovin.
Lefort returned to Russia with Peter. This happened immediately after information was received about the uprising of the archers in Moscow. However, there is doubt as to whether Franz Yakovlevich personally participated in the suppression of this uprising and the execution of the guilty. It is assumed that during the execution period, Lefort was completely absorbed in the arrangement of the new house. Although, in fact, it was not a house, but a palace, which was erected in the absence of Lefort. True, in this exquisite palace, Franz Yakovlevich had a good time not so long: on March 2, 1699, the tsar's favorite died after a fever (and housewarming was celebrated only on February 12, 1699).