AWARD MEDALS IN RUSSIA IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF THE 18TH CENTURYi
In the first quarter of the 18th century the system of awards in Russia still kept to a large degree to the reward tradition - rewards, as a rule, for all participants in a particular campaign or in a specific decisive battle, regardless of their social position or rank. It was, however, at that time that new types of decoration began to appear as well, which had not existed in Russia previously and which were conferred selectively, a development which was to influence the system of awards as a whole in this country.
Before the reign of Peter I there had been a tradition of distributing awards "according to rank": the higher the status of the recipient the greater the weight of the gold medal he would be due to receive. During Peter's reign as well, the "unit of measurement" for the worth of a medal continued to be the gold coin or chervonets - a gold coin which weighed approximately 3.4 grammes. From now on we shall, on a number of occasions, provide the main characteristics of specific Russian award medals from the Petrine era indicating their worth in terms of their weight in relation to that gold coin or chervonets.
Orders and another very honourable award - portraits of Peter worn on the recipient's chest - were designed as personal awards for an individual's merits in either the military or the civic field. Medals on the other hand functioned as mass-scale decorations.
In appearance medals differed significantly from similar awards used in the 16th and 17th centuries. On these, apart from the Tsar's portrait, the date of the event providing the reason for the award would be indicated and usually the scene of the battle, if the award had been a military one.
Russian award medals in the first quarter of the 18th century were fashioned from two different metals - gold or silver. Despite the fact that they were used as mass awards, as pointed out above, clear distinctions were still drawn between the recipients on the basis of their social or property status. In view of this gold medals were designed for officers in the Army or Navy and also for NCOs enjoying a privileged position in the Guards. Meanwhile silver medals were distributed to sailors and soldiers in the army.
At the same time as award medals there also existed commemorative medals, which were usually issued in conjunction with certain remarkable events, mainly of a military nature: medals of that kind were not usually displayed on clothes. In the course of the first two decades of the 18th century - between 1700 and 1721 - Russia was waging a grim war against Sweden, which meant that the vast majority of medals during the reign of Tsar Peter, - both commemorative and award medals - were linked with the events of that particular war. On commemorative medals, mainly designed to propagate Russia's military successes in the Great Northern War and to a large extent to have an impact on opinion in Western Europe, the legends were usually written in Latin. Russian, which was a difficult language not understood by foreigners, was the only possible one to use on award medals designed for Russian subjects.
The first Russian medals of the 18th century, in relation to which we know with certainty the reason why they were awarded, are still held to be medals for the capture of the Noteburg Fortress (of which the old Russian name was Oreshek) later to be renamed the Schliesselburg Fortress: it had been in Swedish hands for 90 years until it was finally taken by storm on October 12, 1702. The valour of the Russian solders and officers on that occasion was celebrated by a whole series of awards. The Journal or Daily Record... of Peter the Great includes the following comment on the awards distributed after the victory at Schliesselburg: "The officers and men from the ranks, were rewarded with villages and gold coins - each in accordance with the merits of his efforts"ii.
In the early years of the 18th century the word ‘coin' was used to signify an award medal and indeed outwardly these medals closely resembled large coins. Although in the Journal of Peter the Great there was only mention of "gold coins" specially minted for the occasion and distributed to the rank-and-file soldiers who had taken part in the storming of the fortress, what are implied here are gold medals minted specially for distribution to senior commanders.
On the obverse of the medals for the storming of Schliesselburg designed to be worn on military uniforms, there was a portrait of Peter I complete with his title; on the reverse was the scene of the final stage in the storming of the fortress. The location of the fortress, the positions of the assailants and the besieged are conveyed in such detail, that the medal itself could have served as a source for information for those studying the event in question. Noteburg was on an island near the source of the Neva. It was only possible to capture it after crossing the water surrounding it. The Journal of Peter the Great to which we shall return several more times later on, informs us that only volunteers took part in the storming of the fortress, "enthusiasts" and that "a significant number of the latter signed on". These "enthusiasts" had been assigned to boats that had been prepared in advance and which sailed over to storm the fortress under cover of Russian artillery. On the relevant medal there is a fortress, swathed in clouds of smoke from the explosions, the weapons of the Russians firing at Noteburg (even the trajectories of their shells have been included), countless boats carrying the "enthusiasts" approaching the fortress to storm it from various different directions. There is an interesting inscription on the reverse: "IN ENEMY HANDS FOR 90 YEARS, TAKEN ON OCTOBER 21, 1702" (when the die was made the figures had been reversed by mistake: 21 instead of 12).
The next awards for military valour were distributed in 1703. On May 6th of that year soldiers from the Preobrazhenskii and Semyonovskii Guards infantry regiments assigned to 30 fishing boats attacked two Swedish military vessels - the Admiral's ship "Gedan" equipped with 10 cannon and the cutter "Astrild" on which there were 14 cannon. The operation was led by Peter I and Alexander Menshikov ("because there were no men who knew more about life at sea than they", as we were informed once more by the Journal of Peter the Great). The Tsar had assumed the rank of Captain of the Bombardiers and Menshikov that of Lieutenant. Despite the heavy artillery fire from the enemy ships the men of the Russian Guards regiments encircled the Swedish vessels and using "just musket fire and grenades (because there were no cannon)" and succeeded in boarding them. As an award for that battle Peter I and Menshikov were some of the first individuals to become knights of the Order of St. Andrew the First-called but recently instituted, while "other officers were awarded gold medals complete with chains and the soldiers small medals without chains" .
This is the only case we know of during the reign of Peter the Great when gold medals were awarded to rank-and-file soldiers. It is necessary to bear in mind that in Peter's reign the men from the ranks in the Guards regiments at the beginning of the 18th century were, as a rule, individuals of noble birth.
The depictions and inscriptions on the reverse of both these medals were extremely interesting: there are two large Swedish vessels, the rigging of which is executed with documentary precision. The ships are surrounded by small boats with soldiers sitting in them. Even the number of boats depicted on the medal is exact - 27 - in accordance with the available records. If we take into consideration that three of the boats cannot be seen because of the Swedish vessels and the smoke from the Swedish cannon being fired, which is also included on the medal, then the total would be 30, the number mentioned in the Journal of Peter the Great. The inscription round the edge of the medal which reads: "THE IMPOSSIBLE MADE POSSIBLE" underlines the exclusive nature of this exploit achieved by Russian soldiers and officers.
In October 1706 the Swedes were dealt a major defeat at Kalisz. At that battle, in which 28,000 men took part on the Swedish side (including 20,000 Poles, supporters of Charles XII), the Russian troops completely routed the enemy army: moreover, five thousand Swedes were killed and the Swedish commander-in-chief, A.A.Mardefelt was taken prisoneriii.
Naturally this major success needed to be singled out with special awards. On Peter the Great's instructions 300 gold medals of different weights and worth 50, 100, 200, 300 or 500 roubles were made in order to reward those who had taken part in the Battle of Kalisz. Some of them were even decorated with precious stonesii.
Numerous medals designed for distribution to the Russian officers involved in the battle at Kalisz have survived. The awards known to us can be divided up into various categories on the basis of weight: ranging from one chervonets to 14. Gold medals inserted into gold frames, covered with enamel in a range of different colours and decorated with diamonds and aquamarines were designed for high-ranking officersiii.
Some of the medals awarded after the Battle of Kalisz were not round but oval in shape. The depictions and also the inscriptions on all the Kalisz medals known to us were identical. On the obverse was the traditional portrait of Peter and on the reverse a horseman holding a field marshal's staff (also highly reminiscent of Peter) galloping along in the background. The inscription "FOR LOYALTY AND VALOUR" shows that this medal is a military decoration. The date of the battle is also indicated - 1706.
Even more awards were distributed for participation in the battle at the village of Lesnaya in September 1708, which was justly referred to by Peter himself as the "mother of the victory at Poltava". It was at that spot that a detachment of Russian troops under Peters's own command seized and routed the force advancing from Riga and commanded by the Swedish General A.-L. Lewenhaupt, which was accompanying an enormous baggage-train of 7,000 wagons loaded with food and ammunition designated for the main body of the Swedish troops led by King Charles XII. Lewenhaupt lost 8,000 men not to mention the numbers of wounded. Approximately 1,000 Swedes surrendered and were taken prisoner. All the food, guns and many of the Swedes' banners and standards fell into the hands of the victors. The Russian losses were relatively small by comparison: 1,111 dead and approximately 3,000 woundedii.
In honour of that victory at the village of Lesnaya, also referred to as "Lewenhaupt's Battle" 1,140 award medals were distributed designed to be worn on military uniforms. These were gold medals, some of which had a frame made of precious stones and also miniature portraits of Peter I distributed as awards, which had been painted on enamel and were also richly decorated with precious stones . Royal portraits of this kind were made for members of the high command of the Preobrazhenskii and Semyonovskii Guards regiments, which had taken part in the battle. Gold medals were also distributed to subaltern officers in the army and to NCOs in the Guards regiments up to and including the rank of Corporal.
The use of an award complete with "persona", i.e. a miniature portrait of Peter I decorated with precious stones, was distributed in the wake of the battle at the village of Lesnaya. This can be seen from the inscription engraved on the reverse of the award medal: "FOR THE LEWENHAUPT BATTLE"iii
Gold medals for the rout of Lewenhaupt's corps were round or oval and came in five different sizes. As far as their weight is concerned they can be divided into five groups - with weights of 1,2,3,5 and 14 chervonets. According to the available documentation relating to the awards distributed in connection with the battle at the village of Lesnaya, gold award medals were divided into seven categories: separate ones for majors, captains, lieutenant captains and lieutenants; a single award for a whole range of ranks - adjutants, second lieutenants, ensigns and also separate medals for non-commissioned officers and for corporals in Guards regiments . It is likely that these awards differed from each other, not just in weight and size but also as regards the inclusion of a frame decorated with precious stones or the absence of same. In one of the documents relating to the distribution of awards to the Guards regiment, medals with the weight of 14 chervonets are referred to as awards for subaltern officers : in other words they were designated for individuals of a rank not above that of captain. We know that majors in Guards regiments were also awarded gold medals. This means that ‘major's' awards either weighed more than 14 chervonets or that they were decorated with a frame consisting of precious stones, which is more likely.
With regard to the distribution of medals for the Battle of Lesnaya, no information has survived regarding those awarded to officers in infantry or dragoons' regiments, but the total number of awards (1,140) makes it possible to assume that commanders in the army were also decorated, the only difference being that when awards were distributed the difference (amounting to two ranks) between officers in the Guards and those in the Army although their titles were the same, was duly taken into account: a medal designated for a captain in the Guards could only be assigned to a Lieutenant Colonel in the army and a reward for a major in the Guards could only be assigned to a Colonel in the army and so on).
On June 17, 1709 the famous and decisive Battle of Poltava took place, which virtually predetermined the outcome of the Great Northern War. During that battle the Swedes were faced no longer by the young and inexperienced Russian army, which had suffered a cruel defeat in 1700 at Narva. By this time the Russian soldiers, who had already defeated the Swedes on a number of occasions, had amassed wide-ranging military experience and were convinced that the final rout of the enemy was inevitable.
This battle led to approximately 10 thousand fatalities for the Swedes and more than 18,000 men were taken prisoner along with all the Swedish artillery and their supply wagons. The Swedish interventionists were driven out of the Ukraine and the myth concerning Charles XII as the ‘invincible' was dispelled. News of the victory at Poltava quickly spread to all the capitals of Europe, which came to regard the young Russian army as a formidable threat.
All the victors were generously rewarded. Four generals straightaway - Generals Repnin, Bruse, Alart and Rensel - and also G.F. Dolgorukov, who had been in command of a separate detachment and was to receive the Order of St. Andrew the First-called , which during the whole of the ten years preceding Poltava had only been conferred upon 13 individuals, including Peter I himself. This fact underlines yet again the unique importance of the victory at Poltava for the outcome of the Great Northern War as a whole.
Miniature portraits of Tsar Peter decorated with precious stones were also distributed but those were only for the select fewii. The Poltava commandant, A.S. Kelin, who had been in charge of the defence of the fortress from April 1709, was also awarded a portrait of Tsar Peter generously sprinkled with precious stones and promoted from colonel to major general.
Many sources, refer to the awarding of gold medals to officers who had taken part in the Battle of Poltava "in accordance with their rank" including the Journal of Peter the Great...ii . Yet there is no information available regarding the surviving actual gold officers' medals for service at Poltava, or how they were manufactured at the mint. Silver ‘Poltava' medals have also come down to us in fairly large numbers.
The verbal instruction regarding the medals to be awarded to those who fought at Poltava was issued soon after the event itselfii. The official decree regarding their manufacture, however, was not announced till February 1710 and reference was only made to silver awards for men from the lowest ranks - common soldiers, corporals and Cossack sergeants (non-commissioned officers) in the Preobrazhenskii and Semyonovskii Guards regimentsiii. Initially the plan was to manufacture silver medals which in value would be the equivalent to two months' pay for the decorated soldiers and non-commissioned officers. It turned out, however, that their wages varied widely depending upon their rank and length of service. In order to put the original plan into effect, as pointed out by A. Belyaev, an official at the Admiralty Office in charge of the Mint, after he had received the commission, it would have been necessary to engrave approximately 30 pairs of dies and, moreover, some of them would have been "too large and could not have been fitted into the compartments"iv.
As a result it was decided to mint silver medals of two kinds: medals for "Cossack sergeants" (non-commissioned officers) weighing 19 zolotniks valued at 3 roubles and 74 kopecks "equal to two-months' pay" and medals for "soldiers" weighing 10 zolotniks and valued at 1 rouble, equal to two months' average pay for a soldier . In all 4,618 medals were minted from the 328 kilogrammes of silver purchased for this purposeii.
Silver medals for both non-commissioned officers ("Cossack sergeants") and soldiers bearing the inscription: "FOR THE BATTLE OF POLTAVA" and the date of the battle weighed 81 and 42 grammes respectively in accordance with the established standards and were valued at 19 and 10 zolotniks. These medals can be distinguished from each other also on account of the depictions on them: the reverse of the medal for non-commissioned officers bears a scene of a cavalry battle and that designed for soldiers a scene of an infantry battle.
Poltava medals were suspended on narrow blue ribbons from the tabs of uniform collars. It was the task of the recipient of the medal himself to attach a loop to the medal so that it could be hung in the appropriate placei.
The Russian fighting men who had taken part in the Battle of Poltava set great store by their military decorations. On the edge of one of the medals for NCOs "FOR THE BATTLE OF POLTAVA" we find an inscription made by the recipient himself: "this mant [i.e. moneta or coin as award medals were sometimes still referred to in that way - V.D.] belongs to Samson Zybin sergeant in the 6th company of the LGPR [the Life Guards Preobrazhenskii Regiment - V.D.]ii.
After 1709 the situation in the Russian-Swedish theatre of war underwent abrupt change. The enemy was driven out of Russian lands and the battles which followed were fought in Swedish territory and the countries which Sweden had occupied. In the following year, 1710, the Swedes were dealt a number of bitter blows in the Baltic region. In November of the same year Turkey (responding in part to the influence of diplomatic representatives of Austria and France and also those of Charles XII who had gone into hiding under the protection of the Turkish sultan) declared war on Russia. The offensive in the Baltic region was thus interrupted.
As early as January 1711 troops of the Crimean Khan - a vassal of Turkey - invaded the Ukraine. On February 22nd of that same year Peter the Great issued a manifesto to the effect that Russia was at war with Turkey.
In the ensuing struggle the Russian government was counting on assistance from the peoples of the Balkan peninsula who had been enslaved by the Turks. At the end of the 17th century, Russia's representative at the Karlowitz Congress, the government official from the Boyars' Council, P.B. Voznitsyn had already written to Peter I in the following terms: "If we go as far as the Danube, not only thousands but hordes of our people, speaking our language and sharing our faith do not want peace..." .
On March 3, 1711 an appeal was made to the Christians in the Balkans to help Russia in the war against Turkey. It was planned to use various means in order to bring the Balkan peoples over to the Russian side. Of interest in this connection is a letter sent by the Russian trade representative in Venice, D.F. Botsis, to Tsar Peter, in which he informed him that some Greek officers led by Captain Ivan Sumila were ready to take part in the fighting against the Turks. In particular, Botsis wrote: "It seems to me that not only would it be appropriate to send them letters patent, but also a separate charter to the said Captain Sumila, mentioning the names of other captains in it and obliging them to embark upon this undertaking, promising them that their services will be acknowledged as valorous and so on. In order that they should be inclined to exhibit still more ardour, it would seem to me that some medals ought to be sent to all the above-mentioned men, one for each of them and also to the captain, whom they will follow. It is also necessary to send some other special letters patent without names, if the request is made. May it please your Majesty to know that if they begin as they promise and if many other peoples follow them, then I am of the opinion that I need to have at my disposal various letters patent and medals, because medals shall lend a fair measure of strength to those men, just as did your Speech to the Nation which rallied them to your cause precisely through medals and letters patent..." Further on he wrote: "As soon as I receive the letters patent and medals for them, when they look at these, others will rise up for the same cause and since this is a question of their own freedom, I hope that prelates and other leaders everywhere will exert themselves..."ii.
The main thrust of Russian diplomacy changed for a time. In the spring of 1711 a secret treaty was concluded with the Moldavian hospodar , Dmitrii Kantemir, regarding the independence of Moldavia under Russian protection. At the same time Mikhail Miloradovich, a native of Herzegovina, was sent to the Balkans (to Montenegro) with special charters aimed at rallying men to join the struggle against the Turks.
While all this was going on, some of the Russian forces were transferred south, away from the Baltic region and Poland. By the end of May the preparations for war and the army under the personal command of Peter the Great embarked on a campaign which went down in history as the Pruth campaign.
It turned out that the Christian inhabitants of the Balkans and the neighbouring territories were not prepared at that stage to support the actions of the Russian army by rallying to its cause: for example, instead of the 30,000 Serbs promised to Peter the Great on the eve of the campaign, only a few hundred people came out to support him. Admittedly 5,000 Moldavians under Kantemir fought on the side of the Russian army during that campaign, but what significance could a detachment of that size have in comparison with the 120,000 soldiers of the main body of the Turkish forces and the 70,000 horsemen of the Crimean Khan who joined forces with them in June?! The Russian army, which only numbered 46,000 with 120 cannon against the 440 Turkish guns, found itself in a very disadvantageous position. After a number of manoeuvres, the Turks who outnumbered the Russians four times over, surrounded Peter's army on the banks of the River Pruth near the town of Stănileşti and embarked upon a siege of the Russian camp. The surrounded Russians fought bravely on, inflicting appreciable losses on their enemies. The efforts to drive back the Turks had been so resolute that the following day when the Grand Vizier gave orders for a second attack, the Turkish janissaries, the most valiant of all the Turkish troops, refused to advance. Hostilities on that day were confined to exchanges of artillery fire. Soon afterwards negotiations between representatives of the Russians and the Turks ended with the announcement of a truce. Peter's wife, Catherine, who had also travelled with the forces taking part in this campaign, is said to have handed over all her jewels in order to influence the Turkish ambassadors.
The conditions laid down by the Turks, which the Russians had been obliged to agree to were very harsh. Azov was returned to the Turks and all the other Russian fortresses in the area had to be dismantled. As for Sweden, thanks to the skill of Russian parliamentarians (led by the outstanding diplomat of the Petrine era, Pyotr Pyotrovich Shafirov) and Catherine's jewels, Charles XII did not gain anything apart from free passage back to his kingdom. On hearing about the results of the negotiations, Charles galloped over to the Vizier's camp and tried to convince the Turks that they should not under any circumstances release the surrounded Russians. To this the Great Vizier answered, as we learn from the Journal of Peter the Great...: "You already know them (those Russians) and we too have seen them and if you want you can attack them with your own men, but we shall not violate the peace we have concluded with him"i. On that very same day the Russian army struck camp.
These awards were divided up, as was the Russian practice, into several categories: there were 12 gold medals of a weight equivalent to 14 chervonets, each of which was designated for a Montenegran "governor", i.e. for rulers of individual regions of the country; 60 medals with a weight equivalent to 8 chervonets to be handed to Montenegran colonels and 88 gold medals with a weight equivalent to 4 chervonets - "princes, voivodes and other leaders"i. Captain Ivan Albanes was awarded a special medal with a weight equivalent to 20 chervonets and, moreover, decorated with a diamond crown valued at 60 [gold] roubles in view of his special services to Russia. When M. Miloradovich had been sent to Montenegro, even before hostilities began, to rally support for Russia's struggle against Turkey, Ivan Albanes had accompanied him. Later he became a "commander in the Herzegovina province, and maintained in his service two companies of paid troops at his own expense. The population under his command in that province totalled 80,000 and over. His service and efforts were loyal"ii. Apart from the medal awarded him by the Russians, Albanes was given 700 roubles. He remained loyal to Russia. Many years later in 1723 he was called upon to recruit "men from among the Serbs and other local peoples" for the Hussar regiments which were then being formed in Russia.
Finally there was the man from among foreign supporters who had been of the greatest use to Russia in 1711 - the above-mentioned Mikhail Ilyich Miloradovich, who had been sent to the Balkans, just before the outbreak of hostilities. He had not only engaged in negotiations there, but also taken part in the military action which had begun soon afterwards. On returning to Russia, Colonel Miloradovich "was awarded for his loyal service and his noble military endeavours against the Turks" a portrait of Peter the Great hung from a Ribbon of St. Andrew and 500 gold roublesi.
The institution of another award is also linked with the Pruth campaign. On November 23rd, the name-day of Peter's wife Catherine, the insignia of a new order were "conferred" upon her, an order "which had been instituted in memory of Her Majesty having been present at the battle against the Turks on the Pruth, where at such a dangerous time not as female person, but was equal to male person, notable to everybody"ii.
The new order came to be known as the Order of St. Catherine (or the "Order of the Liberation") after Tsar Peter's wife and in memory of the rescue of the Russian army from their encirclement in 1711, when the jewels of the Tsarina presented to the Turkish ambassadors and the Grand Vizier had played no small part in the outcome of the negotiations, which had proved favourable to the Russian side. Indeed, the Vizier himself, had paid with his head soon after having permitted the Russians to go free. During Peter's life-time the order had simply been known as the Order of Catherine. Later it would be conferred on ladies-in-waiting at court from the close entourage of the Emperor or the Empressiii.
In 1712, Peter began his campaign in Finland. At the same time the corps of troops under A.D. Menshikov invaded the North German territories ruled over by Sweden. By the summer of 1714 virtually the whole of Finland's eastern coast was in Russian hands. The Swedes were forced to abandon the towns of Tevastehus, Björneborg, Tammerfors, Kristinestad and Vasa.
Gold medals were awarded for the capture of the last town - Vasa, during which the forces commanded by M.M. Golitsyn inflicted a heavy defeat on the Swedish troops under General Armfelt. These were to be conferred on all the field officers in the cavalry and infantry - majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels who had taken part in the campaign (while all the others from captain downwards were awarded an extra month's pay). Thirty-three gold medals were issued at the Mint: 6 for colonels each with a weight equivalent to 25 gold roubles; 13 for lieutenant colonels each with a weight equivalent to 12.5 gold roubles and 14 for majors each with a weight equivalent to 11.5 gold roublesiv. The total of those receiving an award was 31: five colonels, twelve lieutenant colonels, thirteen majors and one aide-de-campv. After the medals had been awarded (the aide-de-camp was awarded a ‘major's' medal) there was one surplus ‘colonel's' medal and one ‘lieutenant colonel's' medal, which were returned to the Admiraltyvi. This particular military medal was the only one dating from Peter's reign on the reverse of which there were no depictions, merely the name and the date of the battle, in connection with which it had been awardedvii.
In July 1714 the famous naval battle at Gangut took place, which occupied as important a place in the history of the Russian fleet as the battle of Poltava does in the list of victories achieved by the Russian land forces. The Russian galley fleet took prisoner a group of Swedish ships including a frigate, six galleys and three skerry-boats. Of the 950 men making up the crews of the seized vessels, 350 were slain and the rest taken prisoner. The Russians lost 124 dead and the wounded totalled just over 300. Just as the Battle of Poltava had done on land, so the naval battle of Gangut signified a break-through in the Great Northern War. After having consolidated their positions in Finland, the Russia army and navy could now concentrate their action in Sweden itself.
The victory at Gangut was celebrated with due ceremony. All ten of the Swedish vessels were brought into Saint Petersburg and moored in the Neva for everyone to behold. All those who had taken part in the battle were generously rewarded. Among those who were promoted on this occasion was Tsar Peter himself who became a Vice-Admirali. The officers of the fleet and the infantry regiments of the landing force were awarded gold medals "each in proportion to his rank", while all the sailors and soldiers were awarded similar silver medals.
In a letter written soon after the battle on July 29, 1714 and addressed to Y.F. Dolgorukov, Peter gave instructions for award medals to be made for participants in the Battle of Gangut to be made. We have decided to reproduce a section of this letter relating to the subject of interest to us, since it was virtually unknown to other specialists in this fieldi:
Silver medals were issued to NCOs in army regiments and also to all soldiers and sailors. The distribution of award medals continued over several years up until 1717. The total number of silver medals awarded was 3,125i.
Depictions and inscriptions on officers' and soldiers' medals for their part in the Battle of Gangut were all the same. On the obverse was the traditional portrait of Peter I and on the reverse the formation of the advance guard of Russian galleys which took part in the battle and that of the Swedish ships under N. Ehrensköld at the very moment when the Russian vessels launched their decisive attack. The date of the battle - July 27, 1714 - was also included on the reverse of the medal.
After the rout of the Swedish fleet at the Battle of Gangut, Russian galleys with a landing force on board completed several more successful operations in the autumn campaign of 1714 and in 1715 putting ashore. For the decisive blow to be dealt at the main Swedish towns a powerful sailing fleet was necessary, which would be able to back up the landing of a large Russian advance force. To this end three battleships were bought from the Dutch - "Portsmouth" (52 guns), "Devonshire" (52 guns) and the "Marlborough" (60 guns). Meanwhile vessels were also being built in Russian shipyards. In May 1715 vessels, which had just been built and were complete with 52 guns, set out from Archangelsk into the Baltic Sea: the "Uriil", "Selafail", the Varakhail" and the "Yagudiil".
In the following year, 1716, a remarkable event took place: Peter the Great took personal command of manoeuvres carried out by a combined squadron of the Russian, British, Danish and Dutch fleets off the island of Bornholm. A special medal was minted in memory of that event: Neptune was depicted on it in a chariot surging across the waves with a trident in his right hand, on which the state flag of Russia fluttered. The Tsar's contemporaries would have interpreted the figure of Neptune as their ruler. The inscription on the medal underlined once more the significance of what had taken place: MASTER OF THE FOUR (i.e. fleets: V.D.) AT BORNHOLM.
The governments of the West-European states were alarmed at the growing strength of the Russian fleet and the way in which Russia had consolidated its positions in the Baltic. In the summer of 1719 Britain issued a special royal decree to recall five ship-builders from Russia - the only foreigners who had been helping to build Russian ships at that time. Yet that did not hold back in any way the growth of the Russian fleet. Russian craftsmen had by then already learnt to build the finest of ships, of a quality on a par with that of those built abroad. In that same year of 1719 the British envoy, G. Jefferies, remarked in a report to his government that ships were being built in Russia as good as those from anywhere else in Europei.
In May 1719 a naval battle took place, in which the Russian navy won its first victory in the open sea without boarding their enemy's vessels, thanks purely to skilful manoeuvring and adept use of artillery fire. On May 24, 1719 a detachment of Russian warships consisting of the 52-gun battleships "Portsmouth", "Devonshire" and "Uriil" and one 50-gun ship "Yagudiil" were cruising in the Baltic near the island of Oesel (mod. Saarema, Estonia). The squadron was under the command of Captain (2nd class) Naum Akimovich Senyavin. When he caught sight of three large warships, Senyavin's squadron began to approach. When it was within firing distance of the unidentified ships, Senyavin, after hoisting his flag on the Portsmouth", fired two warning shots. The military flags of Sweden were then raised on the masts of the ships ahead. The ships turned out to belong to a group of Swedish warships under the command of Commodore Wrangel consisting of: the 52-gun battleship "Wachtmeister", the 34-gun frigate "Karls-Kron-Wappen" and the 12-gun brigantine "Bernardus". On a signal from their flagship, the Russian vessels engaged the enemy. The battle lasted for more than three hours. The rigging of the "Portsmouth" was badly damaged, but the Swedish vessels suffered even more damage as a result of the skilful manoeuvring and precise fire of the Russian ships. The first ship unable to withstand the Russian onslaught was the Swedish frigate and the next to lower its flag was the brigantine. The "Wachtmeister" with the Swedish commanding officers on board tried to flee the scene of the battle, but Russian ships caught up with it and it too was obliged to surrender. The crews of all the Swedish vessels, which took part in the battle, were taken prisoner with Commodore Wrangel at their head. There were only nine wounded men on the Russian ships.
On the strength of that victory Captain N.A. Senyavin was promoted to Commodore. The captains of the other Russian vessels who had taken part in the battle were also raised in rank: the commanders of the "Devonshire" and the "Uriil" - K.N. Zotov and Y. Shapizo - were promoted from captains 3rd class to captains 2nd class and Captain-lieutenant D. Delyap, commander of the "Yagudiil" to Captain 3rd classi.The crews of the Russian ships were awarded 11,000 roubles for having captured the Swedish vessels, which were shared out between all those who had participated in the battle. In accordance with a special personal decree from Peter, gold medals were struck at the mint to be awarded to the officers of the victorious ships "in all of 67 different varieties"ii, namely of different values. The gold award medals are known to us or copies of the latter, which were minted using the original dies with a depiction of Peter's portrait with his title on one side and on the other that of a sea battle with the inscription: "ZEAL AND LOYALTY WON THROUGH" and the date "MAY 24, 1719" with four different values.
Another naval victory achieved on July 27, 1720 on the sixth anniversary of the Battle of Gangut was also marked with special military medals. On that day a fleet of galleys with a landing force on board and commanded by M.M. Golitsyn annihilated a Swedish squadron near the island of Grengam after capturing four of the enemy's frigates. The remaining Swedish vessels made good use of the favourable wind which had begun to blow, so as to escape their pursuers.
This victory cost the victors dear as well: thirty-four of their 61 galleys were so badly damaged that the wrecks had to be set alight. The Russians, however, succeeded in seizing four of the Swedes' large frigates: "Storphenix" (34 guns), "Venkor" (30 guns), "Sisken" (22 guns) and "Dansk Ära" (18 guns). What made this victory still more significant was that it was achieved within sight of a British squadron which did not venture forth to help the Swedes.
The victors were generously rewarded. Prince M.M. Golitsyn who had commanded the operation was presented with a gold sword richly decorated with diamonds and also a cane decorated with precious stones, while all the officers involved were awarded gold medals in accordance with their rank.
A document recording the awards distributed for participation in this battle is so interesting that we have decided to cite it in full. The parts of the document which have been crossed out are in brackets.
Two medals as can be seen from the "List,,," had been presented almost immediately in St. Petersburg: one to Brigadier Yuri Andreyevich von Mengden and a second to Prince Golitsyn's aide-de-camp, Major Nikita Mikhailovich Shilov, who had been sent from Finland to bring home news of the victory, promoted through two ranks on the spot as the harbinger of good tidings to colonel and presented with a ‘colonel's' award worth 20 chervonets with a chain worth 60.
We know of authentic officers' gold medals awarded in connection with that battle which are mentioned in documents with a weight equivalent to 3, 10 and 20 chervonets.
There is a single extant reference from a contemporary bearing witness to those events - that of Vasilii Alexandrovich Nashchokin, who describes in his Memoirs how those awards dating from Peter's reign were actually worn. In the extract cited below Nashchokin is referring precisely to awards for taking part in the Battle of Grengam"...Field officers were awarded gold medals on gold chains, which were worn over the shoulder, and subaltern officers gold medals on narrow blue ribbons which were worn pinned to their kaftan lapel. Non-commissioned officers and soldiers wore silver portraits on a bow of blue ribbon pinned to the same button-hole. These medals bore inscriptions about that very same battle"i.
A direct consequence of the Russian victories of 1719 and 1720 was the agreement by the Swedes to resume peace negotiations broken off earlier, when the Swedish government began to hope that the British would come to their aid. The Russian government, however, which did not hope for a great deal from these negotiations, continued to extend its military power and was training new landing forces for disembarking on the Swedish coast. Four new ships were launched in Saint Petersburg during the winter of 1720/1721 and a further three were ordered in the Netherlands. In May 1721 the Russian galley fleet with a landing force consisting of 5,000 infantry and several hundred Cossacks sailed along the Swedish coast disembarking from time to time to burn down ironworks and mills and in order to capture villages and small towns.
As a result of the sessions of the Russo-Swedish Congress conditions for a peace were worked out and this was signed at Nystad on August 30, 1721.The signing of this peace was a direct consequence of the victories of Russian arms on land and on sea in the final years of the Great Northern War.
After the conclusion of the Treaty of Nystad in St. Petersburg grandiose celebrations were organized with cannon salutes, a masked ball and a firework display. On October 22, 1721 a solemn meeting and dinner were organized, to which all the officers of the Preobrazhenskii and Semyonovskii Guards regiments were also invited. The total number of guests was a thousand. At the end of the dinner all the generals, field and subaltern officers were presented with gold medals of various values, which had been minted in memory of the conclusion of the Treaty of Nystadi.
Silver award medals issued for that occasion have also survived to this day. The depictions and inscription on all the Nystad medals were, as a rule, the same. Noah's ark was the central point in the composition and above it was a flying dove with an olive branch in its beak. On the horizon there was a view of St. Petersburg to the left and one of Stockholm to the right linked by a rainbow and the inscription read: "LINKED BY A UNION OF PEACE". Among the numerous other inscriptions to be found on the medals one of particular interest is: A MEDAL OF OUR OWN GOLD" found on gold medals in memory of the Treaty of Nystad and "A MEDAL OF OUR OWN SILVER" on silver ones. During almost the whole of Peter's reign precious metals in Russia were mined in extremely small quantities and gold and silver awards used to be struck in metal imported from abroad. It was not until the 1720s that it became possible to manufacture a proportion of the award medals from Russia's own gold and silver - a fact which is underlined in the inscriptions on the Nystad medals.
Similar medals in memory of the Peace of Nystad were also issued with Latin legends, which were exact repetitions of the Russian inscriptions. They were designed to be sent abroad.
From among the large range of medals dedicated to the conclusion of the Peace of Nystad, the only ones which we can consider as having definitely been designed to be worn were the silver ones with a diameter of 41mms on which a loop had usually been welded or the traces of such could be discerned. Other medals which varied considerably in both size and weight we should be more likely to categorize as commemorative medals, although when they were awarded the principle to the effect that the value of the medal should be in accordance with the recipient's rank was closely observed. Gold medals have been recorded with weights equivalent to 2,3,5,8,10, 30 and 35 chervonets. One of the medals known to us with a weight equivalent to 2 chervonets bears traces of a loop which was broken off, i.e. it had been worn on the owner's uniform. The fact that there is no clear archive information available about the medals awarded in memory of the conclusion of the Peace of Nystad makes it difficult clearly to distinguish with adequate clarity between award and commemorative medals. The only thing which is clear is that these distinctions should not be sought among medals with Latin legends, but among those with Russian inscriptions. When it comes to gold medals it can be assumed that only those on which there is a portrait of Peter I can be regarded as award medals.
Special awards were also prepared for distribution to the Don Cossacks, who had taken part in the Great Northern War. Cossack units had participated in land battles and even in landing forces on vessels sailing along the Swedish coast, as had been the case in 1721.
In 1723 silver medals were distributed "for the former war against the Swedes", on one side of which there was a bust portrait of Peter I and on the other the insignia of the Order of St. Andrew the First-calledi. Indeed imprints of medals are know to exist on the obverse of which there is a portrait of Peter, while on the reverse there is the state coat of arms - an eagle with the insignia of the Order of Saint Andrew the First-called round its neck. In the lower part of the reverse there is the date "1723".
It is usually believed that medals of this kind were awarded to Cossacks who had taken part in the Nizov Campaign in 1722-1723 for the capture of Bakui. We are inclined to believe, however, that these medals were distributed to Cossacks for the part they had played in the Great Northern War against Sweden. The date of 1723 inscribed on the medal does not in any way contradict our assumption. It was precisely in that year that silver medals were issued for the Cossacks who had taken part in the battles against the Swedes. The date on the medals could have recorded the time when the awards had been manufactured and distributed, as was often the practice with award medals assigned to named individuals in the second half of the 18th century.
During the reign of Peter the Great cases have been recorded when award medals were issued for named individualsi. In 1709 a gold award medal was manufactured on the personal instructions of Peter I bearing the name of Matvei Simontov (Simont) - an Italian serving in the Russian fleet as a sea captain. Simontov had come to Russia as early as 1698 with an assignment to train 10 Russians in "naval warfare on board ship". It turned out, however, that at Peter's own behest Simontov was sent to take charge of the building of a harbour first of all in the mouth of the River Mius and later (when it turned out to be impossible to build one at that specific site) the building of a harbour based on Simontov's drawings began at another site near Taganrog. When Peter came to Taganrog in May 1709, the building of the harbour was for the most part already complete. Peter, evidently well satisfied with what he had seen there, immediately gave orders for Simontov to receive an award. In a letter from Admiral F.M. Apraksin to Peter the Great dispatched on June 2, 1709 from Moscow, it is stated: "I shall forthwith sign instructions in accordance with your decree for the medal to be made for Matvei Simontov with the person of Your Majesty on one side and on the other a drawing of the harbour and when it shall be completed I shall immediately dispatch it to Your Majesty"ii.
That medal, known in a considerable number of copies, was oval in shape and with a loop on it. On the obverse Peter I was depicted in armour and a cloak and with a laurel wreath on his head: on the reverse was a plan of the fortress and harbour at Taganrog with the date 1709 and the inscription "TO CAPTAIN MATVEI SIMONTOV FOR BUILDING THE HARBOUR".
Although information has survived on certain awards consisting of gold medals for named individuals who distinguished themselves during Peter's reign, we do not have any actual awards available. In 1703, for example, a gold medal was presented to a certain priest by the name of Ivan Okulov in recognition of the fact that together with a thousand "enthusiasts on foot" he had penetrated into Sweden, with which Russia was at war at the time and, as we are told by the Russian newspaper Vedomosti of January 2, 1703 "he slew a large number of Swedes and captured a cavalry banner, drums and a fair number of swords, flintlock rifles and horses...". Meanwhile in Okulov's own company there were only two men who suffered woundsi.
In 1710 Major Villim Ivanovich Gennin was awarded a gold medal with diamonds worth 150 roubles for having shown the Tsar a plan of the Keksholm (mod. Priozerska) Fortress which had just been capturedi. In his last will and testament, written by Gennin himself, the medal is described as follows: "An oval gold medal decorated with tiny diamonds and a blue enamel crown presented to me for the capture of Keksholmii .
It is difficult to say whether the medals presented to I. Okulov and V.I. Gennin bore their names or whether some "general" medals were used for their awards. It is quite possible that a special medal was issued for Gennin, because it was oval in shape and the medals known to us inscribed "For Kalisz" and also the one made for M. Simontov were of the same shape, so it is unlikely that they could have been used again in that case.
During Peter's reign a medal was struck, which was to initiate a whole series of artefacts which constitute something halfway between a personal award medal and a commemorative one or perhaps combine characteristics of the two.
In 1708 Admiral Fyodor Matveyevich Apraksin in Peter's absence organized the defence of St. Petesburg against a Swedish force 13,000 strong under General Lybecker, defeated the Swedes inflicting considerable losses on the enemy and averted the danger that had been threatening Russia's new capital. In memory of that event a medal was struck bearing a portrait of F.M. Apraksin, which was a completely new departure in the medallist's art in Russia, since prior to that all medals had borne depictions of representatives of the ruling dynasty. The medal had been designed not only and not so much as an award for Apraksin himself, but it had had another more important significance: it was to become one of the medals commemorating an important event in the Great Northern War - the repulse of the Swedes' attack on the capital - and it is highly likely that this medal would have been re-issued later on during Peter's reign as well.
A medal enjoying similar significance was one in honour of Count Fyodor Alexeyevich Golovin, a famous diplomat during Peter's reign, who was the first knight of the Russian Order of Saint Andrew the First-called.
This medal bore inscriptions in Latin from which it would follow that one of the purposes behind the issue in question would have been to propagate Russia's military and diplomatic successes abroadi.
In the last years of Peter's reign award medals were not minted in Russia, apart from the "Cossack" award of 1723. The last decree regarding the manufacture and distribution of award medals in the first quarter of the 18th century was linked with the sad event for the country - the death of Peter I. A month after the Emperor had died, on February 24, 1725, a personal decree was announced by his successor Catherine I for gold and silver medals to be struck to honour the memory of Peter the Greati.
This decree led to the appearance of gold medals of eight different weights (ranging from 4 to 50 chervonets) - a total of 1,600 medals in all. Silver medals intended for distribution to NCOs and soldiers (to judge from the number it would seem to involve the men of the Guards regiments and not even all of those) were to be manufactured: 450 specimens for non-commissioned officers using dies of gold medals designed for captains; 450 specimens for corporals using dies of gold medals designed for lieutenants; 10,000 silver medals for private soldiers were to have been issued according to this same decree of a size similar to that of medals previously issued for the coronation of Empress Catherine Ii.
During the rule of Peter the Great's immediate successors the tradition of mass issues of medals was abandoned for a time. For three and a half decades after the death of the Emperor not a single award medal was issued in Russia. The Russian army, which under Peter had become a model for the whole of Europe, had come under the command of Burkhard-Kristof Minikh in 1730. This foreigner, who had come to Russia as recently as 1721 and who knew virtually nothing of Peter's military style, was only familiar with the military doctrines of Western Europe. In the Russian army which had deep-rooted national traditions, practices were introduced which were predominant at the time in armies of other countries. Harsh punishments were introduced for breaches of discipline - a direct consequence of the influence of the Prussian military school. A rod was officially introduced into the range of officers' personal equipment. It was thus highly unlikely that there could be any awards for the rank and file or incentives in conditions of that kind! Only in the second half of the 18th century did the Russian army gradually begin to break free from the domination of a Prussian military system. The first soldier's medal of that period was distributed for the magnificent victory in 1759 at Frankfurt-an-der-Oder (better known as the Battle of Kunersdorf) over the Prussian army which at the time had been regarded as a model army in Europe.
Later on special soldier's medals were issued in conjunction with glorious victories at Kagul and Chesme, Kinburn, Ochakov and Ismail. The tradition for distributing special award medals lived on in Russia after that. Medals used for mass-scale recognition of valour in battle became a firmly established part of military incentives in our country.
* * *
At the beginning of the 20th century the bi-centenary of the Battle of Poltava was celebrated (1709-1909) and also that of the Battle of Gangut (1714-1914). In connection with these celebrations jubilee award medals were struck.
On June 17, 1909 in accordance with a decree issued by Tsar Nicholas II a light-bronze medal in memory of Poltava was instituted (designed by A.F. Vasyutinskii). It was designed to be worn on the chest suspended on a blue St. Andrew's ribbon.
The personnel of the military units, which had taken part in the Battle of Poltava and which had preserved up until that jubilee the same names they had had in 1709, were presented with medals. Also all those who took part in the jubilee parade at Poltava and the official guests invited to the ceremonies - direct male descendants of the generals and commanders of individual units which had taken part in the Battle of Poltava.
On these medals there is a portrait of Peter I and on the reverse words spoken by Peter before the battle: "Know this of Peter - life is not dear to him, it is Russia that must live".
In the Statute relating to the second medal instituted on July 7, 1914 for the bi-centenary of the victory at Gangut, it was written that it was designated for all those who served on the day of that jubilee - July 27, 1914 - in the Navy Office and the military units which had taken part in the Battle of Gangut and also the direct male descendants of those who had taken part in that battle - officers, generals and commanders of individual units.
Medals struck in light bronze were worn on a St. Andrew's ribbon with a metal chain above the ribbon (designed by P.G. Stadnitskii).
Ninety-four thousand medals were manufactured but as a result of the First World War breaking out only some ten thousand were actually presented.
iG.A. Miloradovich, 1871: O rode dvoryan i grafa Miloradovich (On the Line of Nobles and Count Miloradovich) [In memory of the centenary of Count Miloradovich's Birth on October 1, 1871], Kiev, p. 27.
iiJournal of Peter the Great....Vol. 1, pp. 452-453.
iiiOne instance was even recorded of this Order for women having been conferred on a man - the thirteen-year-old son of A.D. Menshikov - Alexander - for his overly shy, "feminine" character, see: D. Bantysh-Kamenskii, 1814:Istoricheskoye sobranie spiskov kavalerov chetyryokh Rossiiskikh Imperatorskikh ordenov: orden Sv. Apostola Andreya Pervozvannogo, Sv. Velikomuchenitsy Ekateriny, Sv. Blagovernogo Velikogo Knyazya Alexandra Nevskogo i Sv. Anny, s samovo uchrezhdeniya onykh do ustanovleniya v 1797 godu Ordenskogo Kapitula, s prilozheniyem starykh Statutov pervykh dvukh ordenov i ordena Sv. Anny (Historical Collection of Lists of Knights of the four Russian Imperial Orders: the Order of St. Andrew the First-called, the Order of St. Catherine the Martyr, the Order of Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky of the True Faith and the Order of St. Anne from their very inauguration till the establishment in 1797 of the Chapter of Orders with an Appendix of the Old Statutes for the first Two Orders and the Order of St. Anne, Moscow, p. 151.
ivRussian State Archive of Ancient Documents, Archive 233, File 149, Sheet 23.
vRussian State Archive of Ancient Documents, Archive 233, File 144, Sheets 149-150.
viRussian State Archive of Ancient Documents, Archive 233, File 188, Sheet 15.
viiOf the 33 gold medals struck at the mint bearing the inscription: "FOR THE BATTLE OF VASA February 19, 1714" only two have survived: one is in the collection of the State Historical Museum and the other in the State Hermitage Museum.
viiiNot long before the battle at Gangut Peter I, who then held the rank of rear admiral, had submitted a petition with the request that he might be promoted to the next naval rank, but this had been refused. It was only after the naval battle at Gangut that the collegium of the Admiralty considered it possible to grant the Tsar, who had virtually been in charge of the Russian fleet's advance-guard in that battle, the rank of vice admiral (I.I. Golikov, Op. cit., Vol. V, pp. 257-258)
ixL.S. Piskunova, 1961: "The Medal Awards for the Battle of Gangut on July 27, 1714", Numizmatika (the journal Numismatics), Issue 2, Proceedings of the State Hermitage Museum, Vol. IV, Leningrad, pp. 135-140.
xMaterialy dlya istorii Gangutskoi operatsii (Materials for the History of the Gangut Operation), Issue 1, Part 2, 1914, p.200, No. 248i. Very few Russian medals with a weight equivalent to two chervonets dated 1714 have been recorded - see: N.M. Severin, 1958: Gold and Platinum Coinage of Imperial Russia from 1701 to 1911, New York, p.4, Nos. 39, 39a. Russian gold coins of that value have also been recorded with the date 1702, not merely with the date of the victory at Gangut. Russian gold coins of that face value were not minted again after that during the reign of Peter I. On the basis of the above and the cited document, it can be assumed with good grounds that the 1714 gold coins worth 2 chervonets were one of the types of award marking the victory at Gangut. It is possible that the 1702 coins worth two chervonets were also used as military awards (marking the victory at Schliesselburg?)
xiL.S. Piskunova, Op. cit. pp. 135-140.
xiiSbornik Russkogo istoricheskogo obshchestva (Collection [of articles] of the Russian Historical Society), 1888: Vol. 61, Saint Petersburg, p. 537.
xiiiJournal of Peter the Great, Volume II, p. 84.
xivPSZ (Complete Collection of Laws), First Collection, Vol. 5, No. 3394, June 20, 1719.
xvRussian State Archive of Ancient Documents, Archive 9, Book 53, Sheets 214-215.
xviZapiski Vasiliya Aleksandrovicha Nashchokina (Memoirs of Vasilii Alexandrovich Nashchokin), 1842, Saint Petersburg, p.7.
xviiJournal of Peter the Great, Vol. II, pp. 183-191.
xviiiAkty, otnosyashchiesya k istorii Voiska Donskogo, sobrannye general-maiorom A.A. Lishninym (Documents relating to the History of the Don Host collected by Major General A.A. Lishnin), 1891-1894 in 3 volumes, Novocherkassk, Vol. 3, p.314.
xixPamyatniki russkoi kultury pervoi chetverti XVIII veka v sobranii Gosudarstvennogo ordena Lenina Ermitazha (Achievements of Russian Culture in the first quarter of the 18th century in the State Hermitage Museum, holder of the Order of Lenin), Catalogue, 1966, Moscow-Leningrad, p. 140, Nos. 1064-1065. The documents known to us indicate that it had originally been planned to award silver medals with a value of 3 roubles, 2 roubles 50 kopecks and 2 roubles to the officers of the Preobrazhesnkii, Semyonovskii, Ingermanlandskii and Arkhangelskii regiments who had taken part in the Nizov Campaign (Opis dokumentov i del, khranyashchikhsya v Senatskom archive [List of documents and files held in the Senate Archive], Third Dept., Saint Petersburg, 1909-1917 - Dept. 1, Vol. 1, p. 148). These medals were duly delivered but their delivery was soon followed by a decree stating that they should be replaced with gold medals with a weight equivalent to 5, 3 and 2 chervonets. We do not know of any medals of this value, which could have been classified as gold awards for participation in the Nizov Campaign. All that is clear is that the silver and tin medals dated 1723 could - on the strength of their size - not have been regarded as copies of award medals with a value of 2, 3 or 5 chervonets. As for the silver awards, it is perfectly possible that the medals returned by those who had taken part in the Nizov Campaign (and not exchanged for silver ones?) were later distributed to Cossacks who had taken part in the Great Northern War.
xxThe first medal known to us, on which the name of recipient was to be found was a gold medal for the Troitskii Campaign in 1682, which was awarded to General Agei Alexeyevich Shepelev of the Boyars' Council. The lengthy inscription on the medal gives a detailed account of the reason for and circumstances surrounding this award. It is likely that the decoration awarded to A.A. Shepelev was not the only medal inscribed with the recipient's name in the 17th century. Information about them has not come down to the present day, let alone the medals themselves. Indeed we can only form an idea of Shepelev's medal from the surviving casts, because it was lost at the end of the 19th century (Trudy GIM [Proceedings of the State Historical Museum] , Issue 25, "Numismatic Collection [of essays]", 1955, Moscow, Part I, p.91).
xxiLetters and Papers of Emperor Peter the Great, Vol. 9, Issue 2, p. 915, |Note to No. 3205.
xxiiVedomosti vremyon Petra Velikogo. V pamyat 200-letiya pervoi russkoi gazety ("Vedomosti" in the time of Peter the Great. To commemorate the Bi-centenary of the First Russian Newspaper), 1903-1906, in 2 issues, Moscow, Issue I, pp. 3-4.
xxiiiGornyi Zhurnal (Mining Journal), 1826, Book V, Saint Petersburg, p. 1905.
xxivIbid., p. 148.
xxvLater on the difference between personal award medals and commemorative ones became less distinct. Nevertheless throughout the whole of the 18th century, particularly its second half, medals appear from time to time which combine features of both award and commemorative medals. Medals of this kind were those in honour of Count A.G. Orlov on the occasion of the victory of the Russian fleet over the Turks at Chesme in 1770 attributed to him personally were examples of this; in honour of his brother G.G. Orlov for saving Moscow from an epidemic of the plague in 1771; in honour of the privy councillor I.I. Betskii presented to him by the Senate in 1772 for instituting at his own expense grants "for young people"; presented to General Field marshal P.A. Rumyantsev for having concluded the Peace of Kuchuk-Kainardzhi with Turkey in 1774; presented to A.V. Suvorov-Rymnikskii in memory of the victories of 1787-1790. They combine features of award medals (at least one of the above was designed for a specific individual depicted on it) and commemorative medals , since they lauded both the individual, in whose honour the medal had been struck, and the event which had been the reason for the award.
xxviPSZ (Complete Collection of Laws), First Collection, Vol. 7, No. 4665.