1709 - 1762 (53 years)
Has more than 100 ancestors but no descendants in this family tree.
||Elizabeth Petrovna Romanoff |
|Relationship||with Francis Fox|
||18 Dec 1709
||25 Dec 1762
||16 Sep 2009 |
||Tsaar Peter I "de grote" Romanoff, b. 9 Jun 1672, Moskva, Moskva, Russia , d. 8 Feb 1725, St Petersburg (Age 52 years) |
||Ekaterina I, b. 24 Feb 1684, Dorpat, Esthonia , d. 17 May 1727, St Petersburg (Age 43 years) |
||1 Mar 1712
||12 siblings |
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||Ivan Shuvalov, b. 1 Nov 1727, Moskva, Moskva, Russia , d. 14 Nov 1797, St.Petersburg (Age 70 years) |
||17 Sep 2009 |
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
- took the country into the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and the Seven Years' War (1756 - 1763). On the eve of her death in 1762, the Russian empire spanned almost 4 billion acres[citation needed ] (more than 16 million squared kilometres).
Her domestic policies allowed the nobles to gain dominance in local government while shortening their terms of service to the state . She encouraged Lomonosov 's establishment of the University of Moscow and Shuvalov's foundation of the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg . She also spent exorbitant sums of money on the grandiose baroque projects of her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli , particularly in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo . The Winter Palace and the Smolny Cathedralremain the chief monuments of her reign in Saint Petersburg . Generally, she was one of the best loved Russian monarchs, because she did not allow Germans in the government and not one person was executed during her reign
Elizabeth, the second-oldest surviving daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I of Russia , was born at Kolomenskoye , near Moscow, on December 18, 1709 (O.S. ). Her parents were secretly married in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in St.Petersburg in November 1707. The marriage was made public in February 1712. As her parents were not publicly acknowledged as being married at the time of her birth, Elizabeth's 'illegitimacy' would be used by political opponents to challenge her right to the throne. On March 6, 1711, she was proclaimed a Tsarevna and on December 23, 1721 a Tsesarevna.
Out of the twelve children of Peter and Catherine (five sons and seven daughters), only two daughters, Anna and Elizabeth survived. Anna was betrothed to the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, nephew of the late King Charles XII of Sweden , Peter's old adversary. Her father had tried to also find a brilliant match for Elizabeth with the French Royal court when he paid a visit there. It was Peter's intention to marry his second daughter to the young French King Louis XV , but the Bourbons declined the offer. Elizabeth had been betrothed to Prince Karl Augustus of Holstein-Gottorp. Politically it was a useful and respectable alliance.A few days after the betrothal, Karl Augustus died. At the time of Peter's death, no marriage plan had succeeded.
As a child, Elizabeth was bright, if not brilliant, but her formal education was both imperfect and desultory. Her father adored her. Elizabeth was his daughter and in many ways resembled him as a feminine replica, both physically and temperamentally. Peter had no leisure to devote to her training, and her mother was too down-to-earth and illiterate to superintend her formal studies. She had a French governess, and was fluent in Italian, German and French
. She was also an excellent dancer and rider. From her earliest years she delighted everyone with her extraordinary beauty and vivacity. She was commonly known as the leading beauty of the Russian Empire.
So long as Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov remained in power, Elizabeth was treated with liberality and distinction by the government of her adolescent half-nephew Peter II . The Dolgorukovs , an ancient boyar family, deeply resented Menshikov. With Peter II's attachment to Prince Ivan Dolgorukov, and with two of their family members on the Supreme State Council, they had the leverage for a successful coup. Menshikov was arrested, stripped of all his honours and properties and exiled to northern Siberia, where he later died in November 1729.The Dolgorukovs hated the memory of Peter the Great, and practically banished Peter's daughter from Court.
With the death of her father and the later accession of the Empress Anna , no royal court or noble house in Europe could allow a son to pay court to Elizabeth, as it would be seen as a unfriendly act to the Empress. Marriage to a commoner was not possible as it would cost Elizabeth not only her title, but also her property rights and her claim to the throne. Elizabeth's response was to make a lover of Alexis Shubin, a handsome sergeant in the Semyonovsky Guards regiment , . After his banishment to Siberia (having previously been relieved of his tongue) by order of the Empress Anna , she turned to a coachman and even a waiter. Eventually she consoled herself with a young Ukranian peasant with a good bass voice who had been brought to Saint Petersburg by a nobleman for a church choir. Elizabeth acquired him for her own choir. His name was Alexis Razumovsky . Razumovsky was a good and simple-minded man, untroubled by personal ambition. Elizabeth was devoted to him and there is reason to believe that she could have married him in a secret ceremony. Later Razumovsky would become known as "the Emperor of the Night" and Elizabeth would make him a Prince and Field Marshal on becoming Empress. The Emperor of Austria would also make Razumovsky a Count of the Holy Roman Empire.
During the reign of her cousin Anna (1730 - 1740), Elizabeth was gathering support in the background; but after the death of Empress Anna, the regency of Anna Leopoldovna with infant Ivan VI was marked by high taxes and economic problems. Such a course of events compelled the indolent, but by no means incapable, beauty to overthrow the weak and corrupt government. Elizabeth, being the daughter of Peter the Great, enjoyed much support from the Russian guards regiments Elizabeth often visited the regiments, marking special events with the officers and acting as godmother to their children. The guards repaid her kindness when on the night of November 25, 1741, Elizabeth seized power with the help of the Preobrazhensky Regiment . Arriving at the regimental headquarters dressed in a metal breastplate over her dress and grasping a silver cross she stated, "Who do you want to serve? Me, the natural sovereign, or those who have stolen my inheritance?" After winning the regiment over, the troops marched to the Winter Palace where they arrested the infant Emperor, his parents and their own lieutenant-colonel, Count von Munnich. It was a daring coup and passed without bloodshed. Elizabeth had vowed that if she became Empress that she would not sign a single death sentence.
At the age of thirty-three, this naturally indolent and self-indulgent woman, with little knowledge and no experience of affairs, found herself at the head of a great empire at one of the most critical periods of its existence. Her proclamation as Empress Elizabeth I explained that the preceding reigns had led Russia to ruin:
"The Russian people have been groaning under the enemies of the Christian faith, but she has delivered them from the degrading foreign oppression."
Russia had been under the domination of German advisers and Elizabeth exiled the most unpopular of them including Heinrich Ostermann, Burkhard von Munnich and Carl Gustav Lowenwolde.Elizabeth crowned herself Empress in the Dormition Cathedral on April 25, 1742.
Fortunately for herself and for Russia, Elizabeth Petrovna, with all her shortcomings (documents often waited months for her signature), had inherited some of her father's genius for government. Her usually keen judgment and her diplomatic tact again and again recalled Peter the Great. What in her sometimes seemed irresolution and procrastination, was, most often, a wise suspension of judgment under exceptionally difficult circumstances.
The substantial changes made by Elizabeth's father, Peter the Great, had not exercised a really formative influence on the intellectual attitudes of the ruling classes as a whole. Elizabeth made considerable impact and laid the groundwork for its completion by her eventual successor, Catherine II.
After abolishing the cabinet council system that was in favor during the rule of the two Annas, and reconstituting the senate as it had been under Peter the Great, with the chiefs of the departments of state (none of them Germans as was the case previously), the first task undertaken by the new empress was to address her quarrel with Sweden . On the January 23, 1743, direct negotiations between the two powers were opened at Åbo (Turku) . On the August 7, 1743 (the Treaty of Åbo ), Sweden ceded to Russia all the southern part of Finland east of the river Kymmene, which subsequently became the boundary between the two states. Provisions of the treaty included the fortresses of Villmanstrand and Fredricshamn.
This triumphant issue can be credited to the diplomatic ability of the new vice chancellor, Aleksey Petrovich Bestuzhev-Ryumin . His policies would have been impossible without her support. Elizabeth had wisely placed Bestuzhev at the head of foreign affairs immediately after her accession. He represented the anti-Franco-Prussian portion of her council, and his object was to bring about an Anglo-Austro-Russian alliance which, at that time, was undoubtedly Russia's proper system. Hence the bogus Lopukhina Conspiracy and other attempts of Frederick the Great and Louis XV to get rid of Bestuzhev (making the Russian court the centre of a tangle of intrigue during the earlier years of Elizabeth's reign.)
watercolour by Alexandre Benois .
Ultimately, however, the minister, strong in the support of Elizabeth, prevailed, and his faultless diplomacy, backed by the dispatch of an auxiliary Russian corps of 30,000 men to the Rhine , greatly accelerated the peace negotiations, ultimately leading to the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (October 18, 1748). By sheer tenacity of purpose, Bestuzhev had extricated his country from the Swedish imbroglio; reconciled his imperial mistress with the courts of Vienna and London, her natural allies; enabled Russia to assert herself effectually in Poland , Turkey and Sweden, and isolated the King of Prussia by forcing him into hostile alliances. All this would have been impossible if not for the steady support of Elizabeth, who trusted him implicitly, despite the insinuations of the Chancellor's innumerable enemies, most of whom were her personal friends.
On February 14, 1758, Chancellor Bestzuhev was removed from office. The future Catherine II recorded, "He was relieved of all his decorations and rank, without a soul being able to reveal for what crimes or transgressions the first gentleman of the Empire was so despoiled, and sent back to his house as a prisoner." No specific crime was ever pinned on Bestzuhev. Instead it was inferred that he had attempted to sow discord between the Empress and her heir and his consort . Those intent on bringing about Bestzuhev's ruin were his rivals the Shuvalovs, Vice-Chancellor Mikhail Voronstov and the Austrian and French ambassadors.
As an unmarried and childless Empress, it was imperative for Elizabeth to find a legitimate heir to secure the Romanov dynasty. She chose her nephew, Peter of Holstein-Gottorp. Elizabeth was only too aware that the deposed Ivan VI , who she had imprisoned in the Schlusselburg Fortress and placed in solitary confinement, was a threat to her throne. Elizabeth feared a coup in his favour and set about destroying all papers, coins or anything else depicting or mentioning Ivan. Elizabeth had issued an order should any attempt be made for him to escape, he was to be eliminated. Catherine II upheld the order and when an attempt was made he was killed and secretly buried within the fortress. The young Peter had lost his mother, Elizabeth's sister Anna, at three months old and his father at the age of eleven. Elizabeth invited her young nephew to Saint Petersburg where he was received into the Orthodox Church and proclaimed heir on November 7, 1742. Elizabeth gave him at once Russian tutors. Keen to see the dynasty secured, Elizabeth settled on Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst as a bride for her nephew. On her conversion to the Russian Orthodox Church, Sophie was given the name of Catherine in memory of Elizabeth's mother. The marriage took place on August 21, 1745 with a son, the future Paul I , finally born on September 20, 1754. There is considerable speculation as to the actual paternity of Paul I. It is suggested that he was not Peter's son at all, but that his mother had engaged in an affair-to which Elizabeth had consented-with a young officer named Serge Saltykov, and that he was Paul's real father. In any case, Peter never gave any indication that he believed Paul to have been fathered by anyone but himself. He also did not take any interest in parenthood. Elizabeth though most certainly took an active interest. She removed the young Paul and acted as if she were his mother and not Catherine. The Empress had ordered the midwife to take the baby and to follow her. Catherine was not to see her child for another month and then on the second time briefly for the churching ceremony. Six months later Elizabeth let Catherine see the child again. The child had in effect become a ward of the state and in a larger sense, the property of the state. In her infinite capacity for self-deception, Elzabeth had made the decision to bring up the baby as she believed he should be-as a true heir and great-grandson of her father, Peter the Great.
The great event of Elizabeth's later years was the Seven Years' War . Elizabeth regarded the treaty of Westminster (January 16, 1756, whereby Great Britain and Prussia agreed to unite their forces to oppose the entry into, or the passage through, Germany of the troops of every foreign power) as utterly subversive of the previous conventions between Great Britain and Russia. Elizabeth sided against Prussia over a personal dislike of Frederick the Great . She wanted him reduced within proper limits, so that he might be no longer a danger to the empire. Elizabeth acceded to the treaty of Versailles thus entering into an alliance with France and Austria against Prussia. On May 17, 1757 the Russian army, 85,000 strong, advanced against Königsberg .
Neither the serious illness of the Empress, which began with a fainting-fit at Tsarskoe Selo (September 19, 1757), nor the fall of Bestuzhev (February 21, 1758), nor the cabals and intrigues of the various foreign powers at Saint Petersburg , interfered with the progress of the war, and the crushing defeat of Kunersdorf (August 12, 1759) at last brought Frederick to the verge of ruin. From that day forth he despaired of success, though he was saved for the moment by the jealousies of the Russian and Austrian commanders, which ruined the military plans of the allies.
On the other hand, it is not too much to say that, from the end of 1759 to the end of 1761, the unshakable firmness of the Russian Empress was the one constraining political force which held together the heterogeneous, incessantly jarring elements of the anti-Prussian combination. From the Russian point of view, Elizabeth's greatness as a stateswoman consists in her steady appreciation of Russian interests, and her determination to promote them at all hazards. She insisted throughout that the King of Prussia must be rendered harmless to his neighbors for the future, and that the only way to bring this about was to reduce him to the rank of a Prince-Elector .
Frederick himself was quite alive to his danger. "I'm at the end of my resources", he wrote at the beginning of 1760, "the continuance of this war means for me utter ruin. Things may drag on perhaps till July, but then a catastrophe must come." On May 21, 1760 a fresh convention was signed between Russia and Austria, a secret clause of which, never communicated to the court of Versailles , guaranteed East Prussia to Russia, as an indemnity for war expenses. The failure of the campaign of 1760, wielded by the inept Count Buturlin , induced the court of Versailles, on the evening of January 22, 1761, to present to the court of Saint Petersburg a dispatch to the effect that the king of France by reason of the condition of his dominions absolutely desired peace. The Russian empress's reply was delivered to the two ambassadors on February 12. It was inspired by the most uncompromising hostility towards the king of Prussia. Elizabeth would not consent to any pacific overtures until the original object of the league had been accomplished.
Simultaneously, Elizabeth caused to be conveyed to Louis XV a confidential letter in which she proposed the signature of a new treaty of alliance of a more comprehensive and explicit nature than the preceding treaties between the two powers, without the knowledge of Austria. Elizabeth's object in this mysterious negotiation seems to have been to reconcile France and Great Britain, in return for which signal service France was to throw all her forces into the German war. This project, which lacked neither ability nor audacity, foundered upon Louis XV's invincible jealousy of the growth of Russian influence in eastern Europe and his fear of offending the Porte . It was finally arranged by the allies that their envoys at Paris should fix the date for the assembling of a peace congress, and that, in the meantime, the war against Prussia should be vigorously prosecuted. In 1760, Russian troops occupied Berlin. Russian victories placed Prussia in serious danger.
The campaign of 1761 was almost as abortive as the campaign of 1760. Frederick acted on the defensive with consummate skill, and the capture of the Prussian fortress of Kolberg on Christmas day 1761, by Rumyantsev , was the sole Russian success. Frederick, however, was now at the last gasp. On January 6, 1762, he wrote to Count Karl-Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein , "We ought now to think of preserving for my nephew, by way of negotiation, whatever fragments of my territory we can save from the avidity of my enemies", which means, if words mean anything, that he was resolved to seek a soldier's death on the first opportunity. A fortnight later he wrote to Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, "The sky begins to clear. Courage, my dear fellow. I have received the news of a great event." The great event which snatched him from destruction was the death of the Russian empress (January 5, 1762 (N.S. )).
Under the reign of Elizabeth, the francophile Russian court was one of the most splendid in all Europe. Foreigners were amazed at the sheer luxury of the sumptuous balls and masquerades. The Empress prided herself on her skills as a dancer and wore the most exquisite dresses. She issued decrees governing the styles of dresses and decorations worn by courtiers. Nobody was allowed to have the same hairstyle as the Empress and Elizabeth owned fifteen thousand ball gowns, several thousand pairs of shoes as well as an unlimited number of silk stockings. In spite of her love of court, Elizabeth was deeply religious. She visited convents and churches and spent long hours in church. When requested to sign a law secularising church lands she said, "Do what you like after my death, I will not sign it." All foreign books had to be approved by the church censor. Klyuchevsky called her a "kind and clever, but disorderly Russian woman" who combined "new European trends with "devout national traditions."
In the late 1750s, Elizabeth's health started to decline. She began to suffer a series of dizzy spells and refused to take the prescribed medicines. She forbade the word "death" in her presence. Knowing she was dying, Elizabeth used her last remaining strength to make her confession, to recite with her confessor the prayer for the dying and to say good-bye to those few people who wished to be with her including Peter and Catherine and Counts Alexey and Kirill Razumovsky . Finally on December 25, 1761, the Empress died. She was buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg on February 3, 1762, after six weeks lying in state
She provided a period of stability that cemented her father's reforms. She avoided political struggles until on the night of Nov 25, 1741, Elizabeth went to barracks of Preobrazhenskii and persuaded some important officers to follow her. (not generals, just officers like captains). They arrested the Braunschweig clan and some senior officials and Elizabeth Petrovna became Empress of the Russia. On Apr 25, 1742 Elizabeth Petronova was crowned in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. During Elizabeth's reign the aristocracy increased their hold over the government and the peasantry, while French cultural influence grew steadily in Russian society. Russian armies penetrated Europe in two major wars, the War of the Austrian succession, 1740-48 and Seven years war, 1756-63, and thus set the scene for the later Partitions of Poland. Elizabeth arranged the Russian succession by bringing her nephew, Prince of Holstein, later Emperor Peter III, to Russia and arranging his marriage with German princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, later Catherine II. Elizabeth died leaving no heir (She didn't want to decide between Peter III and Catherine II, because she saw, Peter III was not good to became Emperor of Russia, also she saw Catherine II would be strong Empress). She was buried in the Cathedral of the St.Peter and St.Paul Fortress in St.Petersburg. And Russia became so important that all states were eager to make treaties. After all, she was unsatisfied what she did for Russia. She wanted victory over Prussia, but she was weak in last years (not physicaly, but mentaly, like in Testament case) and she didn't want real war until her last days.