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Moscow trophies of Napoleon, 12 golden apostles of the princes Radziwills and the famous cross of Efrosinya of Polotsk await the lucky treasure hunter. Treasures of Belarus.
Moscow trophies of Napoleon, 12 golden apostles of the princes Radziwills and the famous cross of Efrosinya of Polotsk await the lucky treasure hunter.
People buried valuables in the garden or in the forest under the influence of extreme circumstances, such as wars. There is no doubt that they expected to return for their property, but for one reason or another, the main of which should be considered a violent death, they could not do this. And the hidden treasures became the object of interest from scientists and romantics.
The largest number of treasures is not found in the area where they are well looked for, but in the one where they are often hidden, more precisely, they have been hidden for centuries. AND Belarus in terms of the number of treasures discovered per year, it is traditionally ahead of all Europe. Why? Because there have been so many large and small wars in this territory that it is difficult to calculate. True, the cost of many Belarusian treasures cannot be called prohibitive, since they find mainly silver, rare gold coins, multi-colored paper bills. But there is every reason to believe that for the time being, “sleeping” in the Belarusian land, lulled by the whisper of trees, treasures, which can only be called legendary. It is notorious "Moscow trophies" of Napoleon, twelve golden apostles of the princes of the Radziwills and the famous cross of Efrosinya of Polotsk.
In search of these treasures, a record amount of earth was dug up, countless documents were found, deciphered and read, but neither one nor the other not a millimeter brought several generations of treasure hunters closer to the desired goal. The listed treasures elude those who strive for them, so stubbornly that every now and then the question arises: "Do they really exist ?!" Do romantics, with and without education, torment themselves with the pursuit of illusion?
Were there apostles?
Legends of the Clan's Wealth Radziwills began to compose in the Middle Ages. However, the owners of huge land holdings, holders of all sorts of titles, who held all any significant positions in Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and then Commonwealth (among them there were chancellors, and marshals, and bishops, and senators), the Radziwills really received millions in income. They were called uncrowned kings, and Nesvizh, where the princely family founded their residence - a castle-palace (now included in the UNESCO World Heritage List) with churches, parks, bastions - northern Paris.
The castle was built in the 16th century. A hundred years later, according to eyewitnesses (by the way, supported by a document - an inventory of the inventory of 1658), he was already the center of untold wealth. The decoration of countless rooms, decorated with wood carvings, stucco moldings, ornate fireplaces, Persian carpets, canvases by famous artists, silverware, crystal and porcelain, wax figures of historical figures, rare manuscripts, faded against the background of the splendor of the twelve state halls of the castle - Golden, Marble, Hetman, Knight, Diamond …
|Karol Radziwill Castle in Nesvizh, view from the fortress wall. Watercolor 1876.
Muzeum Narodowe, Krakow. III-r.a. 4480. (Teka Minska).
From year to year, the Radziwills grew rich, opening factories and factories, laying new palaces, founding fortresses and equipping them with military supplies.
And what about the apostles - twelve sculptures in the height of a man, cast from gold and silver? They were part of the legendary treasury of the magnates, replenished over the centuries and, as the legend says, numbering 60 poods of jewelry. There is no exact information about their origin, but it is believed that the valuable collection was brought from Constantinople at the beginning of the 17th century. The Radziwills, who were in friendly and kinship (through marriages) relations with half of Europe, more than once received fabulous gifts, as well as "payment" for the services rendered from the mighty of this world. There were gifts from the Pope in their treasury, many valuable things came to Nesvizh from the Polish king Jan Sobieski (Jan III Sobieski, 1629-1696), who fought with the Turks and once captured a huge baggage train with jewelry.
Has anyone seen the apostles whose testimony can be trusted? Yes, they are described in the report Catherine II the Russian ambassador as part of the retinue of the king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Stanislav August (Stanislaw August Poniatowski, 1732-1798) Prince Nikolay Vasilievich Repnin (1734-1801) and in the notes of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire Adam Adamovich Czartoryski (1770–1861).
Repnin: “The king stopped by K. Radziwill in Nesvizh. After a brilliant fireworks display and a dinner for 300 people, the king descended into the dungeon of the castle and saw gold bars stacked up to the ceiling. There were hundreds of poods of gold, a lot of gold objects and 12 apostles made of this metal and silver, studded with precious stones."
As you can see, 60 pounds of gold easily turned into "hundreds of pounds", and all this is estimated by eye. But it is said definitely about the apostles.
Czartoryski: “A rich castle in Nesvizh. … There were 5 or 10 million ducats worth of jewelry alone. Precious collections of weapons, books, diamonds. But there is nothing more expensive than the collection of "12 Apostles", 5 of them are made of pure gold and studded with precious stones."
Why keep the sculptures in the dungeon? According to the Radziwills, the apostles, originally exhibited in the Blue Hall of the castle, were repeatedly tried to kidnap. Then it was decided to make wax copies of the sculptures, and hide the originals away. Perhaps even in those days, this fact served as a starting point for rumors and doubts: did the apostles of precious metals really exist?
|Dominik Radziwill, the last guardian of the secret of the 12 apostles.|
The last owner of the princely treasury Dominik Radziwill (Dominik Radziwill, 1786-1813) during the Patriotic War of 1812 went over to the side of Napoleon. (After the partitions of the Commonwealth, the territory of Belarus became part of the Russian Empire - naturally, the local nobility dreamed of former independence and relied on Napoleon, supporting him in the fight against Russia.) But the French were defeated, and Dominik Radziwill, as well as other allies Napoleon, was forced to retreat. He managed to appear in his castle for several hours (hereinafter, the information collected by the Nesvizh local historian, the author of a number of books about the Radziwill family, Klavdia Shishigina-Pototskaya, is given) in order to give an order to the economist: to immediately hide the treasury. The servant managed to carry out the order of the prince, hiding fabulous wealth in the agreed "skarbets" (cache) and blowing up the underground passage leading to it. The Russian troops that entered Nesvizh under the leadership of Admiral Pavel Vasilyevich Chichagov (1767-1849) wanted to find this cache, as they say, in hot pursuit, the housekeeper was terribly tortured, but did not get a word from him, and as a result they were hanged in the courtyard of the castle. Well, the prince was mortally wounded shortly after these events.
So, two people, who knew about the location of the cache, moved to another world, and the golden apostles, strewn with precious stones, became prisoners of the "skarbets". They have been looking for them for 196 years, but so far to no avail.
Odyssey of the life-giving cross
|By order of the Patroness of the Land of Belorussian Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk, Lazar Bogsha, one of the best masters of his time, created a cross around 1161. Coin Nat. Bank of Belarus in 1 thousand Belarusian rubles rub. Cross of Euphrosyne of Polotsk.|
Our next hero is a custom-made cross Patroness of the Land of Belarusian Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk, older than the apostles that way by 500 years (it is impossible to say more precisely - after all, it is not known when the apostles were cast), but no one has any doubts that he really existed. However, does it exist now? But first things first.
In 1104, a daughter was born to the Polotsk prince Svyatoslav-George, who was named Predslava. At the age of 12, secretly from her parents, she came to the monastery and insisted that she be tonsured as a nun. Here Predslava (in the monasticism of Euphrosyne) devoted herself entirely to books - she copied them with her own hand, translated from Greek and Latin, and then began to write her own works. Time passed, and they started talking about young Euphrosyne as one of the most educated women in Europe.
By her order Lazar Bogsha, one of the best masters of his time, created the cross around 1161. Its height was 51 cm, the length of the upper crossbar was 14 cm; made of cypress, covered with gold plates, edged with pearls and precious stones, as well as enamel images with the faces of saints, it can be considered a wonderful example of ancient Belarusian jewelry art.
How do we know what the cross was? Photo negatives on glass, made in the 19th century, have survived. Photos from these negatives, numerous descriptions (including in museum acts on the transfer of the cross) and research by specialists helped to recreate it (the work was carried out from 1992 to 1997).
At the end of the 12th century, the cross was taken from Polotsk by the Smolensk princes. Vasily III (1479-1533) brought the cross to Moscow, and Ivan the Terriblefrightened by the curse (there is an inscription on the cross: "… And let them never take him out of the monastery, and never sell him, and don’t give him away. If anyone disobeys … let him be cursed by the holy life-giving Trinity and the holy fathers …"), ordered to return the shrine to Polotsk. In 1812, the monks of the Spaso-Euphrosyne Monastery managed to hide the cross from Napoleon's soldiers, walled it up in a niche in the Sophia Cathedral. However, before the "soldiers of the revolution" they were powerless - in 1917 the cross was requisitioned by the Bolsheviks.
|Inscriptions on the cross of the Monk Euphrosyne, princess of Polotsk, from a description made in the 19th century by a member of the council of the Polotsk ecclesiastical brotherhood, priest Mikhail Dubrovsky. Based on this evidence, the cross was recreated in 1997. Cross of Euphrosyne of Polotsk.|
In 1929, the shrine was discovered in Mogilev. The cross remained there as a museum piece until 1941. When the Germans approached the city, the evacuation of museum values began. And that's when the cross of Efrosinya of Polotsk … disappeared … The official version, formulated in Soviet times as "kidnapped by the German fascist invaders", caused bewilderment - there was enough time to take out the exhibits.
Where is the cross of Euphrosyne? Of the considerable number of versions that have appeared over the decades of search, two stand out, conventionally called - western and eastern.
Western. In the 1960s, the Mogilev Museum asked the Hermitage about the fate of the shrine. From there, the answer came that the cross of Efrosinya of Polotsk was included in the collection of the Morgan millionaires and is located in New York. How he got there was not specified in the response to the request. Researchers, representatives of the Belarusian emigration, and journalists were involved in the search for the cross in the Morgan funds at different times. But they only managed to find new, unsubstantiated guesses: the cross may be in the private collections of the Rockefellers, or even ended up in Australia, where it was taken apart in order to sell separately gold, silver and enamels. In this case, the cross itself no longer exists.
Eastern. The chronology of events related to Mogilev in the first days of the war, among other researchers, was restored by an employee of the KGB department for the Mogilev region, Sergei Bogdanovich. Analyzing the documents at his disposal and familiarizing himself with the recollections of eyewitnesses, he concluded: "And yet the trail leads to the east", having published an article in the press under this heading. It was answered by Pyotr Kharitonovich Poddubsky, a driver who in 1941 took out museum exhibits ("Mogilev treasures") along the route Smolensk-Mozhaisk-Moscow. Poddubsky, in particular, said that the convoy with the valuable cargo had safely arrived in Moscow. But whether there was a cross among the treasures and what its further fate was, he does not know, but he well remembered the phrase of one of the attendants in civilian clothes: "What a beautiful cross!" However, you never know there were crosses.
But what if there were several columns with a valuable cargo (such evidence is also available)? And one of them didn't make it to the destination? What if, due to prevailing circumstances, it was decided to hide the museum values in the forest - in the ground, lake or swamp, so that they would not fall into the hands of the Germans? Then the cross of Euphrosyne, like the apostles of the Radziwills, “sleeps” in its “belongings”, waiting for the darkness around it to be replaced by sunlight.
"The Leaky Sack" of Napoleon
|Polish artist Januar Suchodolski (January Suchodolski, 1797-1875) in 1866 painted the painting "The passage of Napoleon's troops across the Berezina." Escaping, the soldiers were forced to throw or hide the loot.|
As coins from a holey sack of an unlucky driver sprinkle the road, so Napoleon generously sprinkled the Belarusian soil with gold and silver from his treasury and "Moscow trophies". Of course, not only the Belarusian one - the legendary treasure of the ambitious Corsican is being looked for in a large territory: from Russian Vyazma to Belarusian Studenka, the very one where the famous crossing of the Berezina took place in November 1812. Looking for and …? And they find it!
They find buttons from uniforms, cannon grenades - these are today. And in the 19th century, among the finds were also rings, a gold cross on a chain, a French cuirass filled with coins, regimental flags. Information that in the 19th century the peasants of Studenka offered visitors to buy a pair of gold French coins "as a keepsake" is given by the famous researcher of the Patriotic War of 1812, candidate of historical sciences Igor Grutso. Until now, rumors are circulating in the Belarusian lands about a suddenly rich nobleman who lived in poverty for many years, and then suddenly built himself a luxurious mansion. What means? Those that he had been looking for in the forest and in the lake for a long time. They tell about a family that one fine day bought a house and a large plot of land, having paid with the salaries of icons and church cups that were accidentally found in the field.
|Crossing the Berezina. Bavarian court painter Peter von Hess. In 1839, at the invitation of Emperor Nicholas I, he visited Russia and was commissioned to write for the Winter Palace a cycle of paintings about the most important battles of 1812.|
But even if all these rumors are true, then in the years that have passed since the war, only small crumbs of what Napoleon “lost” have been found. Where are the values of the Kremlin cathedrals and the Armory, where the chandelier weighing 113 pounds, where are the precious stones, collections of ancient weapons, a huge amount of church utensils and precious utensils, and finally, where are the bars of gold and silver weighing hundreds and hundreds of pounds? It was these items that constituted Napoleon's "Moscow trophies". And the cuirasses, knapsacks and chests filled with coins found by the peasants are most likely "personal property", that is, the loot of French soldiers and officers who, before the crossing, received orders to get rid of everything except supplies, and in a hurry buried their treasures in the nearest forest.
It must be said that these "personal treasures", as well as the treasury of Napoleon and his "Moscow trophies", for a long time did not allow the French to sleep peacefully at night. After 1815, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire received petitions from the heirs of the soldiers and officers of the "Great Army" with a request to enter and search for hidden treasures. Almost all of these applications were rejected.
The question posed about whether the treasures actually existed, in relation to Napoleon's hoard, must be answered in the affirmative. Both the treasury and the "Moscow trophies" are not fiction. They actually existed, and then disappeared then and where, having suffered defeat, the French army disappeared. And who knows in which of the lakes, swamps and forests - whether next to the Radziwill apostles and the cross of Euphrosinia, or maybe far from them - they hid in anticipation of the hour when the time comes to interrupt their sleep and throw back the "blanket" of green moss or blue waters.