A special dinner was held last night in honour of an Aberdeenshire soldier of fortune whose achievements in Russia have seen him hailed as “one of the greatest men in Scottish history”.
From humble beginnings, Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries rose through the ranks to become the right-hand man of a Russian tsar.
He is credited with educating a young Tsar Peter I – soon to become Peter the Great – in military and naval matters.
Together they helped to turn Russia from a relatively inward-looking country into a European powerhouse.
Born near Ellon in 1635, Gordon left Scotland for Poland aged 16 to seek refuge from the persecution of Catholics in his homeland.
Lord Provost Barney Crockett – who boasts a degree in Russian history – hosted the special dinner in his honour at Aberdeen’s town house.
Mr Crockett said: “His impact on not just Russian but world history has been enormous.
“People have spent their whole careers studying him and his role with Peter the Great.”
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert, also attended the dinner and said: “It wasn’t easy being a Scottish Roman Catholic in the 17th century and Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries was one of several enterprising men who found an eminent career in continental Europe.
“Above all, he was an indefatigable diarist, leaving a unique record of the Russia of his day.
“The north- east is hugely indebted here to the hard work of Dr Dmitry Fedosov who has now published, through the University of Aberdeen, a definitive edition of these precious six volumes.”
Gordon died in Moscow in 1699, where a monument still stands in his memory.