Vasily Karazin

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Vasily Karazin
Born (1773-01-30)January 30, 1773
Kruchyk village of Sloboda Ukraine Governorate in Russian Empire (today Ukraine)
Died November 4, 1842(1842-11-04) (aged 69)
Nikolaev of New Russia Governorate in Russian Empire (today Ukraine)
Nationality Russian
Ethnicity Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek
Known for Founder of Kharkov University

Vasily Nazarovich Karazin (Russian: Вас′илий Наз′арович Кар′азин, Vasily Nazarovich Karazin; Ukrainian: Василь Назарович Каразін, Vasyl Nazarovych Karazin; January 30, 1773 – November 4, 1842) was a Russian enlightenment figure, intellectual, inventor, founder of The Ministry of National Education in Russian Empire and scientific publisher. He is the founder of Kharkov University (now — V. N. Karazin Kharkov National University).


He was born in Kruchik village, Kharkov Governorate, Russian Empire (now Bohodukhiv Raion of Kharkov Oblast, Ukraine), his father was Nazary Alexandrovich Karazin, a Russian Imperial Army officer (noted for his involvement in Pârvu Cantacuzino's 1769 rebellion in Wallachia) and his mother was part of the Ukrainian Cossack elite.[1] Vasily Karazin considered himself to be ethnic Serbian[citation needed], though his family originally known as Karadji stemmed from Greek origin.[2]

Vasily Karazin was educated in nobility schools in Kharkov and Kremenchuk. At the age of eighteen, he left for Saint Petersburg, and underwent military training in the prestigious Semyonovsky Regiment. He also studied at the School of Mines, one of the top educational institutions in Russian Empire at that time. Karazin was, nevertheless, opposed to this environment, and often reacted against the manners and customs condoned by the nobility of the times. Unsatisfied with his military service, he moved back to his village and married a fourteen-year-old serf.

In 1798, Karazin attempted to leave Russia given his opposition to the policies of Russian Emperor Paul I, but was denied a passport. After he attempted to cross the border illegally, he was swiftly arrested.

When Alexander I took power, Karazin began petitioning him with his views on government development, pointing out the state's need to invest in education. In 1802 he obtained the tsar's permission to open a university in Kharkov. On September 1 of that year, during a meeting of the Kharkov nobility, he gave a famous speech on the benefits of a university, asking for voluntary donations. Lacking sufficient funding and academic supplies, Karazin underwent hardship in achieving his educational priorities. The local elite preferred a military college in the city.[1]

On January 17, 1805 the Kharkov University was opened; Karazin did not take part in the opening ceremony, as by that time he had lost his position with the Ministry of Education. According to Alexander Herzen, "the colossal ideas of Karazin were downscaled to a provincial German Hochschule".[3] Forced to return to his village, Karazin did not give up on all his plans, and established a school for local children. In November 1808, Karazin wrote a letter to the emperor titled On non-intervention in European affairs for which he was arrested for the second time.

Karazin continued his academic work. He was a member of 7 academies, published more than 60 articles in different fields of science, primarily agriculture, pharmacology, chemistry, and physics. As an example of his innovative spirit, in 1810 in his village he opened Ukraine's first weather station.

Karazin repeatedly voiced critiques of what he viewed as Alexander's resistance to self-government and national education in the Russian Empire. Karazin was the founding father of the Ministry of National Education. His direct confrontation with Emperor Alexander I was so public, that in 1820–21 Karazin was even imprisoned in Shlisselburg fortress. After that he lived in his family estate. Karazin died in Nikolaev.

The Russian painter and writer Nikolay Karazin was his grandson.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 What Makes Kharkiv Ukrainian, The Ukrainian Week (23 November 2014)
  2. Solovyev, Sergey (1976). History of Russia, Volume 46. Academic International Press. p. 210. ISBN 9780875691282.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hertzen A.I. Emperor Alexander I and V.N. Karazin From Hertzen in 30 volumes – Moscow, 1959. –v. 16. (Russian)

External links