Tatishchev,Vasily Nikitich

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Tatishchev, Vasily Nikitich (1686-1750): Russian Historian.

As an historian, Tatishchev wrote one of the first Russian histories, and also compiled a Geographical Lexicon of Russia. As a servant of the state, he improved working and social conditions for workers in the Ural Mountains.

Born into a noble family on April 19, 1686 near Pskov, Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev was an historian and military leader. Little is known about his childhood or education. As children, he and his brother Ivan most likely visited the Royal Family on several occasions, possibly making the acquaintance of Peter the Great.

In 1704 he began his service in the military, and served in various capacities until 1719. In 1712, Tatishchev studied artillery and engineering in Western Europe, staying in Berlin and visiting other German cities. At this time, he also studied history, geography, French, German, and Polish, and this is probably where he gathered much of his information for his five-volume work, History of Russia. He returned to Russia and enrolled in the Moscow Artillery School in 1716, and was appointed lieutenant of the first artillery regimen that same year. The following year, he was in charge of the construction of the armory in St. Petersburg, and in 1720, he was appointed to improve the factory system in the Ural Mountains.

Around 1730, Tatishchev was dismissed from state services for illegally exchanging coins, but he returned to service in 1734, assigned again to the Ural Mountains factory system. The following year, he began work which vastly improved the working and social conditions for the factory workers. He instigated workers’ compensation for illness, required that schools be built for the workers’ children, and ensured that there were nearby churches and taverns for the workers.

In 1745, he retired from the state service and spent his remaining years in Boldino, near Moscow. There he completed his Geographical Lexicon and Russian History. He died on July 14, 1750, in Boldino.

Further Reading:

Daniels, Rudolph L, V. N. Tatishchev: Guardian of the Petrine Revolution, 1973.

Sigrid Kelsey

Louisiana State University