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Alexander Carl Wilhelm Christoph von Benckendorff Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Alexander Carl Wilhelm Christoph von Benckendorff passes away in 1844.

Alexander Carl Wilhelm Christoph von Benckendorff was a Russian General.

Benckendorff was born on July 4th, 1781, although some records indicate it was 1783. He was born in Reval which is now Tallinn, Estonia. Both his father and grandfather were Generals. His mother was the senior lady in waiting to Empress Maria Fyodorovna in the Romanov Court.

During the Napoleanic Wars Benckendorff served in the militar. During Napolean's invasion of Russia, Benckendorff led the Velizh offensive, a small town in Smolensk Oblast, Russia. He would take three French generals prisoner during the offensive. When Moscow was liberated, he was placed in command of the garrison guarding the city. He then turned his attentions to foreign campaigns against Napolean's forces. He was one of the first Russians to set foot in Berlin. He helped to remove French foces from the Netherlands. When British and Prussian forces arrived he headed to Belgium. There he took two cities and in the process liberated 600 English soldiers.

In 1821, Benckendorff sent a letter to Alexander I of Russia warning him about the the Decembrist organization. The Decembrist's were unhappy that Alexander's brother, Nicolas (later Nicolas I), was going to ascend to the throne instead of Constantine, who was older than Nicolas. Constantine removed himself from the line of ascension.

When the Decembrist Revolt occured in 1825, Benckendorff lobbied for the creation of the Corps of Gendarmes, a secret police force that was tasked with the internal security of Russia. As part of the Corps of Gendarmes, Benckendorff was the Chief Censor for Russia. Under his tenure strict censorship over literature and theatre performances were implemented. This caused Benckendorff to have a direct connection with Alexander Pushkin and ultimately bare some responsibility in the poet's death in a duel.

Benckendorff passed away on October 5th, 1844.

Benckendorff was a member of Lodge of United Friends which records indicate was in Moscow during the French occupation. Several Camp or Military lodges were formed at that time. At the time of Napoleonic Wars Masonry was popular with members of the Russian Army.