Menshikov, Aleksandr Danilovich, Prince [key], 1672?–1729, Russian field marshal and statesman. Of lowly origin, he became an intimate companion of Peter I (Peter the Great), and after the death of François Lefort (1699) he was the czar's chief adviser. Despite his vices, Menshikov proved an able military commander and was created prince and later field marshal. Menshikov was successively governor of Schlüsselburg, St. Petersburg, and Estonia. He energetically carried out Peter's reforms, but he was notorious for his financial misdeeds. Peter's second wife, Catherine (see Catherine I), had previously been Menshikov's mistress, and she continued to look out for his interests. Upon Peter's death (1725), Menshikov helped her to accede to the throne, and he was the real ruler during her reign. Although his administration was efficient, it was also high-handed, and his enemies were legion. Shortly after the accession (1727) of the child czar, Peter II, Menshikov was removed from office through the intrigues of Count Osterman and others. He died in exile in Siberia. Several of his descendants held high posts in the empire.
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