Unfortunately, now people remember not Prince Potyomkin himself and his truly great contribution to the development of the state, but "Potemkin villages", whose origin is doubtful.
Where did the phraseology come from?
It is difficult to name the expression of the Russian language, which has a more controversial history. How did the expression "Potemkin villages" come about? For it to take root, it was required to believe in a fairly distorted section of our history. The expression "Potemkin village" is customary to use when talking about ostentatious splendor, deception and fraud. It has firmly entered the Russian language. About the deceiver, rubbing his glasses, they say that he is building Potemkin villages. The meaning of phraseology is "it's better to tell the truth than to embellish an unsightly picture." The idiom was born at a time when Prince Potemkin was the governor of the southern regions of Russia and the Crimea. The construction of cities on the newly annexed lands devoured huge money and caused criticism of the ill-wishers of the prince.
Some of these publications described a story about how Potemkin, wanting to mislead the empress during her trip, ordered to quickly build along the path of her follow fictitious villages. Allegedly they consisted of decorations alone, and the people seen on the streets were driven for visibility. This idea allowed the prince to strengthen the empress in the conviction that the state is flourishing, and behind this beautiful facade hide from the empress a multimillion embezzlement. It was rumored that Potemkin himself had been given an amount of three million rubles.
Following the road, the Empress saw eye-pleasing pictures. Solid houses, well-dressed villagers, joyfully greeting the motorcade. Cows herds are grazing in the fields, in grain barns. The picture of universal prosperity. A pleased and grateful empress showered the conqueror of the Crimea Potemkin with blessings. She did not understand that all the villages she passed by - in fact, only the scenery. Cow herds - in reality one herd, which moved to a new site, while Catherine was asleep. In bags of grain, it was not grain, but sand. All the villagers were beautifully dressed, and when the empress drove, they were forced to part with magnificent clothes. So there was a new idiom. The expression "Potemkin villages" means fiction, something that really is not. It has become a household name. Each such Potemkin village is an example of imaginary brilliance and ostentatious prosperity.
Potemkin and Novorossia
Entrusted with exclusive powers, Potemkin began to implement a plan for the development, living and strengthening of military lines in the southern part of Russia. He quickly received the rank of general-anshef and entered the Military Collegium and the State Council, was granted a princely title.
In 1775, Potemkin laid the foundations of the Zaporozhye Cossack army, subordinate to the crown of the Russian Empire. In 1776, he becomes, in fact, the ruler of the south of Russia, the governor-general of the Novorossiysk, Astrakhan and Azov provinces. Potemkin is considering the possibilities of fighting Turkey with the ambitious goal of completely eliminating the Turkish state and reviving the Byzantine Empire. At the mouth of the Dnieper, the prince lays Kherson with a shipyard for the construction of ships, supervises the construction of Yekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk), Russia's military operations in the Caucasus. He controls the entire south of Russia, right up to the Caspian Sea.
There is a lot of documentary evidence of how much of the varied work done by Potemkin in the management of new territories. Of course, his projects sometimes feel some haste, excessive self-esteem and setting difficult goals. He seemed to have set himself a bar that exceeded human capabilities:
- construction of new settlements;
- the importation of colonists;
- creating conditions for farming;
- development of viticulture;
- the construction of schools, factories;
All these projects are far from a complete list of what has been done. And everything was done without detailed elaboration on a global scale. Nobody was spared mercy, considerable money and human resources were invested. Something was not brought to the end, something was left in the plans. It was possible to implement only a small part of the truly global Potemkin projects. But all the same, it impresses the imagination.
Construction of Sevastopol
Achievements of Prince Potemkin in new Russia put forward it in a number of the major politicians of Europe of the eighteenth century. He was the most powerful person in Russia at that time. Much of what they were created has survived to the present days because of its activities was the least flashy tinsel. Inspection trip to Sevastopol was taken just three years after the start of construction of the city. Meanwhile, the participants of this trip were brought to port and 40 ships that saluted in honor of Catherine. Examination as quickly appeared the fortifications, docks, shipyards, and the city – churches, hospitals and schools is extremely impressed all the guests.
Sevastopol is only one facet of Potemkin's activities. He committed a whole series of deeds that are worthy of respect and memory.
Only a small part of the planned was realized. However, much of what he started is alive to this day.
The bookmark of Nikolaev
Evidence of the prince's accomplishments was the notes of an English teacher, Mary Guthrie, objectively describing the trip through Southern Russia, which was arranged by Potemkin.
We have reached her description of Nikolaev in 5 years after the foundation. She appreciates the new streets of the city, an astonishing length and width, which housed six hundred houses. In addition, there were many huts and buildings for sailors. A very beautiful building of the Admiralty with the docks under it.
All that is needed for the construction and maintenance of the fleet. The population of the city reaches almost 10 thousand people.
Where did the false rumors come from?
Fictions that everything created Potemkin - a continuous "Potemkin village", appeared some time after the Empress's trip to the Crimea.
His good name was able to defend only after a half-century scientist G. Soloveichik, writing the first true biography of the Prince. However, the restored the good name of Prince Potemkin, to build "Potemkin villages", the meaning of the idiom has not changed.
Reaction of envious persons
How did it happen that the story of the "cardboard villages" aroused the confidence not only of foreigners, but also of Russians, including courtiers? The answer to this is given by Potemkin's important position at court. Catherine's favorites never lacked ill will. Especially great was the hatred for Potemkin, who influenced Russian politics. Envious people hoped that the Crimean trip meant resignation. However, making sure that he did not lose influence on Catherine and achieved much in his endeavors, the enemies were even more angry, supporting all the slander.
Catherine could not help but see the intrigues against Prince Potemkin. This position caused her annoyance, but did not diminish gratitude to Potemkin. Already one such "Potemkin village", like Sevastopol, is able to calm the most active rancor. After the southern voyage the Empress many times again wrote letters of thanks to Potemkin.