Unfortunately, now people remember not Prince Potemkin himself and his truly great contribution to the development of the state, but “Potemkin villages,” the origin of which is doubtful.

Where did the idiom go

Potemkin village: the meaning of idiomIt is difficult to name the expression of the Russian language, which has a more controversial history. How did the expression “Potemkin villages” appear? In order for it to take root, it was necessary to believe in a fairly perverted segment of our history. The expression “Potemkin village” is commonly used when talking about flashy sham, deception and fraud. It is firmly incorporated into the Russian language. They say that he is building Potemkin villages about a cheater who rubs his glasses. The meaning of a phraseological unit is “it is better to tell the truth than to embellish the ugly picture”. Idiom was born in a time when Prince Potemkin was the governor of the southern regions of Russia and the Crimea. The construction of cities on the lands recently attached to Russia devoured huge sums of money and drew criticism from the enemies of the prince.

Catherine Inspection

Some of these publications described the story of how Potemkin, wishing to mislead the empress during her trip, ordered that fictitious villages be urgently built along the way. Allegedly, they consisted of only the scenery, and the people seen on the streets were driven together for visibility. This idea allowed the prince to strengthen the empress in the conviction that the state is flourishing, and behind this beautiful facade to hide from the empress multimillion-dollar waste. It was rumored that Potemkin himself appropriated an amount of three million rubles.

Following the road, the Empress saw the pleasing eyes of the picture. Solid houses, well-dressed villagers, happily welcoming the motorcade. Cow herds graze in the fields, barns full of grain. Picture of universal prosperity. The empress, overjoyed and grateful, showered the conqueror of the Crimea Potemkin with blessings. She did not understand that all the villages she passed were really only decorations. Cow herds - in reality, one herd, which moved to the new site, while Catherine slept. There was no grain in the bags of grain, but sand. All the villagers were beautifully dressed, and when the empress drove, they were forced to part with lush clothes. So a new idiom appeared. The expression "Potemkin villages" means a fiction, something which actually is not. It has become a household name. Each such Potemkin village is an example of imaginary brilliance and ostentatious prosperity.

Spread the lie

Potemkin and Novorossia

Clothed with exclusive powers, Potemkin began to implement the plan for the development, accommodation and strengthening of the military borders of the southern part of Russia. He quickly received the rank of general-in-chief 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 became, in fact, the ruler of southern Russia, the governor-general of the Novorossiysk, Astrakhan and Azov provinces. Potemkin ponders over the possibilities of fighting Turkey with the ambitious goal of completely liquidating 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, manages the construction of Yekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk), and Russian military actions in the Caucasus. He controls the entire south of Russia, down to the Caspian Sea.

There is a lot of documentary evidence of how much diverse work Potemkin performed as part of managing new territories. Of course, in his projects sometimes there is some haste, excessive self-esteem and setting difficult goals. He seemed to set himself a bar that exceeded human abilities:

  • construction of new settlements;
  • the importation of colonists;
  • creating conditions for farming;
  • the development of viticulture;
  • construction of schools, factories;
  • shipbuilding.

All these projects are not a complete list of what has been done. And everything was done without detailed study on a global scale. No mercy was given to anyone, significant financial and human resources were invested. Something was not completed, something remained in the plans. It was possible to embody only a small part of truly global Potemkin projects. But still made them amazing.

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 just one facet of Potemkin’s activities. He made a whole series of actions that are worthy of respect and memory.

Only a small part of the planned was realized. However, much of what he began is still alive today.

Bookmark Nikolaev

The evidence of the prince’s accomplishments was a note by some Englishwoman-teacher Mary Guthrie, objectively describing a trip to southern Russia, which Potemkin settled on.

Her description of Nikolaev reached us 5 years after its foundation. She highly appreciates the new streets of the city, of amazing length and width, on which six hundred houses were placed. In addition, there were many huts and buildings for the sailors. Very beautiful admiralty building with docks attached to it.

Everything you need to build and maintain the fleet. The population of the city reaches almost 10 thousand people.

Where did the false rumors come from

Conjectures that everything created by Potemkin is a solid “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.

Envy reaction

How did it happen that the story of the “cardboard villages” aroused the confidence of not only foreigners, but also Russians, including the courtiers? The answer to this gives an important position occupied by Potemkin at court. Catherine's favorites have never lacked ill-wishers. Especially great was the hatred of Potemkin, who influenced Russian politics. Envious people hoped that the Crimean business trip meant resignation. However, making sure that he did not lose influence on Catherine and achieved a lot in his endeavors, the enemies became even more vicious, supporting all the slander.

Catherine's reaction

Catherine could not see the wiles against Prince Potemkin. This situation caused her annoyance, but did not diminish thanks to Potemkin. Already one such “Potemkin village”, like Sevastopol, is able to calm the most active spiteful critics. After the southern voyage, the empress wrote many letters to Potemkin many times.