Jacob Bruce – wizard of Sukharev Tower
Pre-Petrine Russia seemed to the Europeans a transcendent mysterious kingdom, and few people risked moving there without extreme need. Jacob Bruce had such a need: in the middle of the 17th century he took the family away from the fire of the English revolution to the unknown Muscovy. Jacob, his son and then grandsons served honestly the Russian rulers.
Jacob Bruce and others supported Peter in confrontation with the princess Sophia and then continued to serve the young ruler. Jacob took part in many military campaigns from Azov to the Prut River. While they were sailing to Azov, he made a map of the territories from Moscow to Asia Minor, later printed in Amsterdam.
Traveling with the tsar across Europe, his Scottish ally managed to find out everything that could be useful for the new Russian state. He studied coinage in the Tower, got acquainted with an artillery foundry and an arsenal in Woolwich, visited the Greenwich Observatory. At the same time, Bruce studied English laws, purchased mathematical instruments and books on shipbuilding and navigation, and hired foreigners who could serve his new homeland.
At the beginning of the Northern War, Bruce was Major General of Artillery. He had to develop a cannonball that had been in decline before. He performed the task with brilliance, and Russian artillery played an important role in the capture of Shlisselburg, Nyenschantz and other fortresses occupied by Swedes.
It is known that according to the royal decree Bruce was engaged in the translation of various foreign books, and with the development of industry received a number of ministerial posts, where he could show his administrative talents. He managed the entire mining industry. At the Nystadt Congress Bruce represented the interests of the Russian Empire and for the peace treaty that was successfully signed, received 500 peasant households and the Glinka manor near Moscow. In 1706, Bruce headed the Moscow Civilian Printing Office. From that time on all books printed in Moscow, there was a note that they were published under the supervision of Jacob Bruce. He also made a calendar which contained calculations on which it was possible to make various predictions for the period up to 2000. The calendar had become so popular that it was reprinted regularly until the beginning of the 20th century.
Bruce was an ardent collector: he collected pictures, herbariums, rare minerals, created his own “small Kunstkamera”. In Sukharev Tower Bruce equipped an observatory, and in the basement a laboratory for scientific experiments was arranged. Noticing the light burning regularly in an abandoned tower and finding out who spent many hours there, the people began to call Bruce a sorcerer and a wizard.
According to eyewitnesses, Bruce created a mechanical doll that could walk and talk. The iron maid was serving the scientist in the laboratory, and after retiring, he took it to the estate, where it was walking around the park and talking to the peasants. At first the peasants were afraid of it and then they got used to the Yashkina Baba and stopped paying attention to it.
There were rumors that at night Bruce turned into a black raven flew from the windows of the Sukharev Tower. In his archives drawings of aircraft were found, so that perhaps someone witnessed his “aviation experiments”.
The death of Bruce, as well as his life, is surrounded by secrets. He was buried in the church of the German settlement, and at the beginning of the 20th century, when the church was destroyed, the remains of the Sukharev wizard were transferred to the laboratory of the historian Gerasimov for study.
After the death of Bruce people searched for magical books in the Sukharev Tower. Nothing of the kind could be found. In 1934 Stalin ordered to destroy the Tower. Today Sukharev Tower was planned to be rebuilt several times, but the projects remained on paper.