ELABUGA - FROM THE PAST IN THE FUTURE...

Elabuga is a provincial Russian town. (Natalia Verderevskaya)

Articles catalog :: Known people of Elabuga city

Durova Nadezhda Andreevna

Durova Nadezhda AndreevnaDurova Nadezhda Andreevna was born on September 17, 1783 (and not on 1789 or 1790 as her biographers usually state referring to her “Notes”) from the marriage of hussar captain Durov and daughter of Ukrainian landowner Alexandrovich, who married him against the will of parents.

Since the first days the Durovs had to lead wandering regimental life. Mother who desperately wished to have a son came to heat her daughter, and her upbringing was almost entirely entrusted to hussar Astahov. “Saddle, - says Durova, - was my cradle; horse, gun and regimental music – first toys and fun”. In such surroundings the child grew up till 5 yeas and adopted the habits and inclinations of a vivacious boy.

In 1789 father joined up city Sarapul of Vijatka province to the position of governor. Mother began to train her to fancywork, housekeeping, but the daughter liked neither of the two, and she continued doing “military tricks” on the quiet. And when she grew up, father presented her a Circassian horse Alkid, riding on it was her favorite pastime.

At eighteen years she was given in marriage, and in a year she gave birth to a boy (this fact is not mentioned in Durova’s “Notes”). So, till the time of her active service she was not a “damsel” but a wife and a mother. Preterition of this is probably connected not only to desire to stylize herself to mythic image of maid-fighter (like Athena Pallada or Joan of Arc), but to desire to recover from marriage experiences.

She became close with captain of Cossacks’ detachment that stood in Sarapul; family troubles appeared and she decided to realize her old dream – join up military service. On September 17, 1806 ????, at her birthday, Nadezhda cut her hair, put on kazakin and cap with red top and left female dress on Kama bank to confuse traces. Desperate and deeply reasoned decision – break out from her sex, become a warrior, devoted son of Russian fatherland. Her words: “So, I am free! Free! Independent! I’ve got what belongs to me, my freedom, freedom! Precious gift of the heaven that belongs inalienably to every person!” are inspired with heady spirit of freedom.

Having profited by departure of detachment to march in 1806, she galloped with the detachment in Cossack clothes on her Alkid. Having reached it, she called herself Alexander Sokolov, son of landowner. She got the permission to follow Cossacks and joint Horse-Polish lancers in Grodno.

She participated in battles at Gutshadt, Heilsberg, Friedland, she displayed courage everywhere. She was awarded with soldier’s St. George cross for rescue of injured officer at the height of the fighting and promoted to officers with transfer to Mariupol hussar regiment.

At the instance of father to whom Durova wrote about her fate, an investigation was made, due to it Alexander I wished to meet “Sokolov”. The Emperor, surprised with selfless desire of the woman to serve her country on military front, allowed her to remain in the army in the rank of cornet of hussar regiment under name of Alexander Andreevich Alexandrov, derivative of his one, and apply to him with requests.

Soon after this Durova left for Sarapul to his father, spent there over two years and at the beginning of 1811 again came to regiment (uhlan Lithuanian). During Pathriotic war she participated in battles at Smolenks, Kolotsk monastery, at Borodino where she was contused with a shot into her leg and left for Sarapul for cure. Later she was promoted to rank of lieutenant, served as orderly at Kutuzov.

Durova Nadezhda AndreevnaIn May 1813 she appeared again in active army and participated in war for liberation of Germany, distinguished herself in siege of fortress Modlina and cities Hamburg and Harburg. Only in 1816 conceding to father’s prayers, she retired with rank of staff captain and lived now in Sarapul, now in Elabuga. She always wore male clothes, signed all her letters as Alexandrov, became angry when anybody treated her like a woman and was notable for great oddities, among them, by the way, unusual love for animals.

Nadezhda Durova died on April 2, 1866. She entrusted to call her Alexander Andreevich Alexandrov during requiem service, the name that she achieved to herself and under which she lived during the whole life. But the priest didn’t venture to break church rules and performed the funeral by name given to her at christening.

Durova was buried with military honour. Officer of local garrison carried her St. George cross on velvet cushion before the coffin – for the first and the only time since the day of founding this main military Russian order a woman was awarded with it.
 

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