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Count Valerian Zubov of Derbent

Count Valerian Aleksandrovich Zubov (Russian: Валериан Александрович Зубов; 1771-1804) was a young Russian general who led the Persian Expedition of 1796. His siblings included Platon Zubov and Olga Zherebtsova.

As a young man Zubov had flattering prospects of a brilliant military career due to his brother Platon's ascendancy at Catherine II's court. He was reputed by contemporaries as "the handsomest man in Russia". The legend has it that the aged Empress flirted with him, secretly from his brother.

During her reign he was much lionized as a military hero of incredible valor. He was appointed General-Major and sent to assist Suvorov in quelling the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland, where he was said to treat both the Polish noblemen and their wives brazenly and "in the most lowly manner". During this stay in Poland, he married Teodor Lubomirski's granddaughter and lost his leg in a toy battle.

Several months before Catherine's death, 24-year-old Valerian was invited to take charge of the army heading for Persia. Of this chimerical venture, engineered by both Zubov brothers and aiming at the conquest of all Asia up to Tibet, there came nothing good. Valerian managed little beyond taking Derbent and was recalled to Russia in disgrace.

Zubov's return from his luckless expedition occasioned a superb ode by Derzhavin, meditating on the fleeting nature of fortune and success. This is his chief claim to fame.

References

This article incorporates material from the public domain 1906 Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary.


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