António Manuel de Vieira
, known in Russia
as Count Anton Manuilovich Devier
, Антон Мануилович Девиер (1682?—), was one of Peter I's
foreign associates, who proved to be an efficient administrator in St Petersburg
His date and place of birth are uncertain - sources differ on whether he was born in Portugal in 1673-1674, or less likely in Amsterdam c. 1682. His mother was a Christian but his father was a Jew
who moved with his family from Portugal
to the Low Countries
. During the Grand Embassy
of Peter the Great
to Europe (1697), the tsar was allowed by the Dutch sailors to command a ship, where Vieira served as a cabin-boy. He was taken by the tsar to Russia in the capacity of his page and orderly, gradually rising to the rank of adjutant-general in 1718.
That same year, he fell in love with Prince Menshikov
's sister and seduced her. They were apprehended by her brother, who ordered Vieira to be beaten to death. The latter, however, appealed to the tsar for mercy, and Peter ordered Vieira to be liberated and married to Menshikov's sister the very next day. A month later, he was appointed the first chief of St Petersburg Police
. During his term in office, Vieira gained renown for his strict attitude towards brigands and outlaws who had previously crowded to the newly-built Russian capital.
After Peter's death, Vieira managed to maintain his position, chiefly through the influence of his wife, a lady-in-waiting at the court of......