Gorchakov was the head of the Russian foreign policy department , the last chancellor of the Russian Empire
He was born in a family of the major general Mikhail Alekseevich Gorchakov and baroness Elena Dorathea Ferzen, the widow of the baron Johann-Gustav. From first marriage mother had a son Karl who had a sincere illness; he was married to Alexander Ilyinichna Osten-Saken, Lev Tolstoy's aunt.
Gorchakov was educated at the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum, where he had the poet Alexander Pushkin as a school-fellow. He became a good classical scholar, and learned to speak and write in French with facility and elegance. Pushkin in one of his poems described young Gorchakov as Fortune's favoured son, and predicted his success.
The first diplomatic steps were taken on posts of the secretary of embassy in London (1824), the adviser of embassy in Florence (1829), the adviser of embassy in Vienna (1832). Ws the representative to the German union (1850). Tried to strengthen influence of Russia on affairs of the German states. He represented Russia at the Vienna conference of 1855 where in the conditions of military defeat of Russia in the Crimean war relied on disorder of the Anglo-French alliance. For this purpose undertook separate negotiations with France, for what was condemned by the minister Nesselrode. After the Parisian congress he was appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Gorchakov, a man known for being smart and cunning, as well as energetic and industrious, employed all kinds of methods in his scheme – from direct pressure on his rivals to complicated diplomatic feints.
: On portraits Gorchakov didn't look majestically or terribly. A soft, evasive look, a small nose , the blinked eyes behind thick glasses of round points , ironic folds around a mouth. In youth — pure "botanist", at advanced age - a kind grandfather.
“E.M. Primakow : "Gorchakov was the master of diplomacy".
Dr. of historic sciences, prof. Vyacheslav Mikhaylov:" The essence of "gorchakovsky" diplomacy consisted that, playing not so much on contradictions, and mainly on nuances of the European diplomacy, on features of psychology and history of relationship of England, France, Italy, Prussia, Austria, without any shot, without any rigid pressure, within several years Russia was free from all humiliating contracts and again entered in a row the leading European powers" .”
Finished active political life, gorchakov met with friends, read a lot and dictated memoirs.
On July 17, 1838 40-year-old Gorchakov married 37-year-old Maria Aleksandrovna Musina-Pushkina (1801 — 1853), A. M. Urusov's daughter, I. A. Musin-Pushkin's widow, the niece of the chief D. P. Tatishchev, she had got the stepdaughter and 4 stepsons, including Alexander Musin-Pushkin. For the sake of this marriage he had to retire and for some time to leave diplomatic service. At spouses were born sons Mikhail (1839 — 1897) and Konstantin (1841 — 1926).