Baron Peter Pavlovich Shafirov (1670 - 1739), Russian statesman, one of the ablest coadjutors of Peter the Great, was of obscure, and in all probability of Jewish, extraction. He first made himself useful by his extraordinary knowledge of foreign languages. He was the chief translator in the Russian Foreign Office for many years, subsequently accompanying Peter on his travels. Made a baron and raised to the rank of vice-chancellor, he displayed diplomatic talents of the highest order.
During the unlucky campaign of 1711, he succeeded against all expectations in concluding the peace of the Pruth. Peter left him in the hands of the Turks as a hostage, and on the rupture of the peace he was imprisoned in the Seven Towers. Finally, however, with the aid of the British and Dutch ambassadors, he defeated the diplomacy of Charles XII of Sweden and his agents, and confirmed the good relations between Russia and Turkey by the treaty of Adrianople (June 1713).
On the institution of the colleges or departments of state in 1718, Shafirov was appointed vice-president of the department of Foreign Affairs, and a senator. In 1723, however, he was deprived of all his offices and sentenced to death. The capital sentence was commuted on the scaffold to banishment, first to Siberia and then to Novgorod. Peculations and disorderly conduct in the senate were the offences charged against Shafirov, and with some justice. On the death of Peter, Shafirov was released from prison and commissioned to write the life of his late master.
He had previously (1717), in an historical tract on the war with Charles XII, in which Peter himself collaborated, epitomized, in a high panegyric style, some of the greatest exploits of the tsar-regenerator. The successful rivalry of his supplanter, Andrei Osterman, prevented Shafirov from holding any high office during the last fourteen years of his life.
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica.