Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf’s Diplomatic Mission to Saint Petersburg in 1755
- Austrian-Russian diplomatic relations, symbolic communication, Russian court, diplomatic dispatches
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Copyright (c) 2022 Olga Khavanova
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Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf is first and foremost known as an outstanding Austrian
economist who greatly contributed to the national reform of finances and administrative efficiency.
The early years of his career were spent in the diplomatic service under the guidance and patronage
of Count Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz, who placed much hope in the ambitious young aristocrat. One
of the significant episodes of Zinzendorf’s diplomatic career was a mission to Russia in 1755. Its
formal pretext was to convey the congratulations of the imperial couple to Empress Elizabeth I on the
birth of the heir to the throne, Grand Duke Paul. At the same time, Zinzendorf was entrusted with a
secret mission of learning more about the main vectors of Russian foreign policy, establishing more
confidential relations with the rival groupings at the St. Petersburg court, and promoting closer joint
action between Vienna, London, and St. Petersburg against Prussia in the inevitable continental
war. The witty analytical mind and exceptional sociability of Zinzendorf allowed him to accomplish
both missions brilliantly, the results of which he reported to Kaunitz. This paper considers both the
official and unofficial activities of the imperial and Austrian envoy during his visit, the complications
he faced, and the solutions he found during his two journeys to Russia in 1755 against the backdrop
of Austrian-Russian relations in their heyday on the eve of the Seven Years’ War.