The Past, the Present, and the Future of the Crimea as Viewed by “Russian Scot” Matthew Guthrie

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Abstract. This paper analyses one of the most popular descriptions of the Crimea compiled on the turn of the nineteenth century by Matthew Guthrie, a Scottish physician on Russian service. It has been revealed that Guthrie created an original and logical concept of the Crimean history based on the principles of the Enlightenment, such as understanding of trade as the core of the historical process and the Turks and the Tatars as existential antagonists to European civilization. Perhaps Guthrie was influenced by the Russian imperial ideology from the age of Catherine II and a treatise on the Ottoman Porte by his fellow countryman William Eton. Guthrie’s work also contained a series of stereotypes of the “East”. He considered the Russians as the descendants from the Hellenes and, therefore, one of “civilized nations”. He understood the history of the Crimea as the struggle of two forces, creative “Western” (Hellenes and Genoese) and destructive “Eastern” (Scythians and Mongols). Therefore the fifteenth-century Ottoman conquest that closed the Black Sea for “European nations” was interpreted as a catastrophe, though the eighteenth-century Russian expansion was progressive, opening several perspectives for the region. The next generation of travelers thoroughly studied Guthrie’s book and disputed it. The Scot became one of those who established the idea that Russia’s appropriation of the Crimea was naturally determined.

Keywords: travelogues, historical imagology, English-Russian cultural connections, Crimea, Russia, Matthew and Maria Guthrie, projectors.

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