Scots In Russia, The [Radio Scotland]

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
0120151222

In a major new three part series, Billy Kay explores the major role played by Scottish soldiers of fortune such as Patrick Gordon and Tam Dalyell of the Binns in the reign of Peter the Great. Gordon was young Peter's tutor, confidant and military right hand man and his diaries are a main source for Russian history in the 17th century. This, despite his less than complimentary description of the Russians:

"...the people being morose, avaricious, deceitful, false, insolent and tyrannous when they have command, and being under command, submissive and even slavish, sloven and base... and yet overweening and valuing themselves above all other nations...."

Billy gives that quotation by the walls of the Kremlin, the centre of Russian power since the days of ancient Muscovy. In Moscow, he speaks to Olga Lesley, a descendant of another influential Scottish soldier, Alexander Lesley, whose family enjoyed a close relationship with the Czars right down to the Revolution in 1917.

In the 18th century, the Scots community increased as Jacobites who had been out in the 1715 Rising sought a haven where their military, medical and intellectual skills were welcomed with open arms. Some of them fought at Sherrifmuir, and there at her family home, Billy interviews historian Rebecca Wills, author of The Jacobites and Russia 1715 - 1750. Their attempt to obtain Russian support for another rising never quite succeeded but they are commemorated in a song from James Hogg's Jacobite Relics:

"Here's a health to the mysterious Czar

I hope he'll send us help from far

To end the work begun by Mar.

One of the staunchest Jacobites was Peter's personal physician, Robert Erskine, the first of a group of Scots doctors who led the Russian medical services for more than 150 years.

02The Caledonian Phalanx20151229

02The Caledonian Phalanx20151229

Billy Kay explores the role of Scots architects, industrialists, admirals and intellectuals in 18th and 19th century Russia. This is from the Scots Magazine in 1739. "We may surely be indulged to take a little rational pride, in finding no action of consequence performed in which Gentlemen of this nation are not in particular manner distinguished for their bravery and resolution: At the head of the Russian fleet we find a Gordon; in the highest rank of the army a Keith, and Douglas, Lesley, and many more, send their names from the extremities of that vast empire"

The penetration of influential Scots into every aspect of Russian life actually increased during the reign of Catherine the Great 1762 - 1796. She employed an enigmatic Jacobite architect called Charles Cameron to realise her dreams in fabulous palaces such as Tsarskoe Selo. Cameron placed an ad in the Edinburgh Evening Courant in 1784 for masons, smiths, bricklayers and plasterers to serve Her Majesty the Empress of all the Russias. The 73 artisans and their families created a Scots colony of 140 people in Sofia. Two of them, William Hastie and Adam Menelaws became influential architects and planners in their own right.

Admiral Samuel Greig headed the Russian navy and he forged links with the Carron works in Falkirk, and from there came the people who industrialised Russia. One of them was Charles Baird and in St Petersburg, there was a saying that people used when things were running smoothly "kak u Berda na zavode" - it was going like Baird's factory! An English engineer described him as coming "from the North side of the Tweed which is the best recommendation a man can bring to this city, the Caledonian Phalanx being the strongest and most numerous, and moving always in the closest union.".

02The Caledonian Phalanx2015122920160103 (RS)

Billy Kay explores the role of Scots architects, industrialists, admirals and intellectuals in 18th and 19th century Russia. This is from the Scots Magazine in 1739. "We may surely be indulged to take a little rational pride, in finding no action of consequence performed in which Gentlemen of this nation are not in particular manner distinguished for their bravery and resolution: At the head of the Russian fleet we find a Gordon; in the highest rank of the army a Keith, and Douglas, Lesley, and many more, send their names from the extremities of that vast empire"

The penetration of influential Scots into every aspect of Russian life actually increased during the reign of Catherine the Great 1762 - 1796. She employed an enigmatic Jacobite architect called Charles Cameron to realise her dreams in fabulous palaces such as Tsarskoe Selo. Cameron placed an ad in the Edinburgh Evening Courant in 1784 for masons, smiths, bricklayers and plasterers to serve Her Majesty the Empress of all the Russias. The 73 artisans and their families created a Scots colony of 140 people in Sofia. Two of them, William Hastie and Adam Menelaws became influential architects and planners in their own right.

Admiral Samuel Greig headed the Russian navy and he forged links with the Carron works in Falkirk, and from there came the people who industrialised Russia. One of them was Charles Baird and in St Petersburg, there was a saying that people used when things were running smoothly "kak u Berda na zavode" - it was going like Baird's factory! An English engineer described him as coming "from the North side of the Tweed which is the best recommendation a man can bring to this city, the Caledonian Phalanx being the strongest and most numerous, and moving always in the closest union.".

03Czars and Bolsheviks20160105

03Czars And Bolsheviks20160105

Billy Kay explores Scoto-Russian relations in the 20th century and celebrates the cultural connections which persist till the present day.

We open with a rousing rendition of The Red Flag sung by the choir of the Young Communist League from Glasgow in the 1950's and the voice of the late Eugenie Fraser whose book The House by the Dvina, recalled her childhood in a wealthy Scoto Russian family in Archangel in pre-revolutionary Russia.

From textile barons to industrialists, Scottish enterprises had a substantial presence in pre Revolutionary Russia with even the biggest deparment store in Moscow, Muir and Mirrielees being Scottish owned. Back in Scotland though it was the rise of Communism which attracted left wing radicals. Billy introduces the most influential of them and recalls his previous trip Russia.

"I'm in Red Square in Moscow - it was here aged 16 on a school trip in 1968 that I heard the story of the Red Clydesiders - nearby, on the Kremlin Wall is a plaque to one of them Arthur McManus, and the mausoleum containing the body of Lenin who described the most famous of them along with Karl Liebknecht as one of those "isolated heroes who have taken upon themselves the arduous role of forerunners in the world revolution." It was the first time I had heard of the great John Maclean, and his radical cry, "All hail the Scottish Workers Republic."

Yet another Scot, Robert Bruce Lockhart was involved in high profile counter revolutionary activity and narrowly avoided execution by the Soviets for what was known as the Lockhart plot.

We hear too of the Russian love of Scottis literature, the Moscow Caledonian Club, the Czars' Scots and Gaelic speaking nannies, our introduction of football, and other ties that bind Russia and Scotland for hundreds of years.

03Czars and Bolsheviks2016010520160110 (RS)

Billy Kay explores Scoto-Russian relations in the 20th century and celebrates the cultural connections which persist till the present day.

We open with a rousing rendition of The Red Flag sung by the choir of the Young Communist League from Glasgow in the 1950's and the voice of the late Eugenie Fraser whose book The House by the Dvina, recalled her childhood in a wealthy Scoto Russian family in Archangel in pre-revolutionary Russia.

From textile barons to industrialists, Scottish enterprises had a substantial presence in pre Revolutionary Russia with even the biggest deparment store in Moscow, Muir and Mirrielees being Scottish owned. Back in Scotland though it was the rise of Communism which attracted left wing radicals. Billy introduces the most influential of them and recalls his previous trip Russia.

"I'm in Red Square in Moscow - it was here aged 16 on a school trip in 1968 that I heard the story of the Red Clydesiders - nearby, on the Kremlin Wall is a plaque to one of them Arthur McManus, and the mausoleum containing the body of Lenin who described the most famous of them along with Karl Liebknecht as one of those "isolated heroes who have taken upon themselves the arduous role of forerunners in the world revolution." It was the first time I had heard of the great John Maclean, and his radical cry, "All hail the Scottish Workers Republic."

Yet another Scot, Robert Bruce Lockhart was involved in high profile counter revolutionary activity and narrowly avoided execution by the Soviets for what was known as the Lockhart plot.

We hear too of the Russian love of Scottis literature, the Moscow Caledonian Club, the Czars' Scots and Gaelic speaking nannies, our introduction of football, and other ties that bind Russia and Scotland for hundreds of years.

03Czars and Bolsheviks2016010520160110 (RS)

Billy Kay explores Scoto-Russian relations in the 20th century and celebrates the cultural connections which persist till the present day.

We open with a rousing rendition of The Red Flag sung by the choir of the Young Communist League from Glasgow in the 1950's and the voice of the late Eugenie Fraser whose book The House by the Dvina, recalled her childhood in a wealthy Scoto Russian family in Archangel in pre-revolutionary Russia.

From textile barons to industrialists, Scottish enterprises had a substantial presence in pre Revolutionary Russia with even the biggest deparment store in Moscow, Muir and Mirrielees being Scottish owned. Back in Scotland though it was the rise of Communism which attracted left wing radicals. Billy introduces the most influential of them and recalls his previous trip Russia.

"I'm in Red Square in Moscow - it was here aged 16 on a school trip in 1968 that I heard the story of the Red Clydesiders - nearby, on the Kremlin Wall is a plaque to one of them Arthur McManus, and the mausoleum containing the body of Lenin who described the most famous of them along with Karl Liebknecht as one of those "isolated heroes who have taken upon themselves the arduous role of forerunners in the world revolution." It was the first time I had heard of the great John Maclean, and his radical cry, "All hail the Scottish Workers Republic."

Yet another Scot, Robert Bruce Lockhart was involved in high profile counter revolutionary activity and narrowly avoided execution by the Soviets for what was known as the Lockhart plot.

We hear too of the Russian love of Scottis literature, the Moscow Caledonian Club, the Czars' Scots and Gaelic speaking nannies, our introduction of football, and other ties that bind Russia and Scotland for hundreds of years.