Russia - Table of Contents ............... Architecture Around the World

Selected Russian Rulers

Born-Died Ruled
Associated Buildings
Depictions in Art
Ivan IV  (Ivan the Terrible)
St. Basil's Cathedral   ...   Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

1666 -1696
Ivan V
(Co-reigned with his brother Peter - Peter the Great)

1682-1725 Peter the Great Saint Petersburg Peterhof Summer palace
Statue at Peterhof

1725-1727 Catherine I (wife of Peter the Great)

Catherine Palace

1727-1730 Peter II (the only male-line grandson of Peter the Great)

1730-1740 Anna Ivanovna (daughter of Ivan V of Russia, as well as the niece of Peter the Great)

1740-1741 Ivan VI 
(Proclaimed Emperor of Russia in 1740, as an infant, although he never actually reigned. Within less than a year, he was overthrown by the Empress Elizabeth of Russia, Peter the Great's daughter. Ivan spent the rest of his life as a prisoner and was killed by his guards during an attempt made to free him.)

1741-1762 Elizabeth  (Peter the Great's daughter)
Peterhof  ...   Catherine Palace

1761-1762 Peter III
(Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.

1729-1796 1762-1796 Catherine II (Catherine the Great)
Catherine Palace   ...  Hermitage Museum ... Hermitage Theatre

Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible)
Wikipedia (April 2011):
  • "Ivan oversaw numerous changes in the transition from a medieval nation state to an empire and emerging regional power, and became the first Tsar of a new and more powerful nation...  At the core of this political revolution stands the newly adopted title of Tsar. By being crowned Tsar, Ivan was sending a message to the world and to Russia: he was now the one and only supreme ruler, and his will was not to be questioned."

  • Historic sources present disparate accounts of Ivan's complex personality: he was described as intelligent and devout, yet given to rages and prone to episodic outbreaks of mental illness. One notable outburst may have resulted in the death of his groomed and chosen heir Ivan Ivanovich, which led to the passing of the Tsardom to the younger son: the weak and possibly mentally retarded Feodor I of Russia."

  • In 1581, Ivan beat his pregnant daughter-in-law for wearing immodest clothing, and this may have caused a miscarriage. His son, also named Ivan, upon learning of this, engaged in a heated argument with his father, which resulted in Ivan striking his son in the head with his pointed staff, causing his son's (accidental) death."

  • "Ivan had made overtures to Queen Elizabeth I of England several times toward the end of his reign, inquiring about the possibility of fleeing Moscow and being granted asylum in her realm; this also has been interpreted by some as another possible sign of his deteriorating mental health."

  • "His contemporaries called him 'Ivan Groznyi' the name, which, although usually translated as 'Terrible', actually means something closer to 'Great' and carries connotations of might, power and strictness rather than horror or cruelty... Perhaps a translation closer to the intended sense would be Ivan the Fearsome, or Ivan the Formidable."
Peter the Great
Statue at Peterhof
Wikipedia (April 2011):
  • "One of Alexis' daughters from his first marriage, Sophia Alekseyevna, led a rebellion of the Streltsy (Russia's elite military corps). In the subsequent conflict, some of Peter's relatives and friends were murdered, including Matveev, and Peter witnessed some of these acts of political violence.    The Streltsy uprising of April–May 1682 made it possible for Sophia, the Miloslavskys (the clan of Ivan), and their allies, to insist that Peter and Ivan [Ivan V]  be proclaimed joint Tsars, with Ivan being acclaimed as the senior of the two. Sophia acted as regent during the minority of the two sovereigns and exercised all power. Peculiarly, a large hole was cut in the back of the dual-seated throne used by Ivan and Peter. Sophia would sit behind the throne and listen as Peter conversed with nobles, also feeding him information and giving him responses to questions and problems. This throne can be seen in the Kremlin museum in Moscow. For seven years, she ruled as an autocrat."

  • "In 1697, he traveled incognito to Europe on an 18-month journey with a large Russian delegation–the so-called "Grand Embassy"—to seek the aid of the European monarchs."

  • "In England he met with King William III, visited Greenwich and Oxford... He also travelled to the fledgling city of Manchester to learn the techniques of city building he would later use to great effect at Saint Petersburg."

  • "Peter founded the city of Saint Petersburg (Germanically named after Saint Peter the Apostle) ...  in 1703. He forbade the building of stone edifices outside Saint Petersburg - which he intended to become Russia's capital -  so that all stonemasons could participate in the construction of the new city."

  • "During Peter's reign the Russian Orthodox Church was reformed. The traditional leader of the Church was the Patriarch of Moscow. In 1700, when the office fell vacant, Peter had refused to name a replacement, allowing the Patriarch's Coadjutor (or deputy) to discharge the duties of the office. Twenty-one years later, in 1721, Peter ...  erected the Holy Synod, a council of ten clergymen, to take the place of the Patriarch and Coadjutor. Peter also implemented a law that stipulated that no Russian man could join a monastery before the age of 50."

  • "Peter implemented social modernization in an absolute manner by requiring courtiers, state officials, and the military to shave their beards and adopt modern clothing styles... Boyars who sought to retain their beards were required to pay an annual beard tax of one hundred rubles. "

  • "Peter decided that all of the children of the nobility should have some early education, especially in the areas of sciences. Therefore, on 28 February 1714, he issued a decree on compulsory education, which dictated that all Russian 10- to 15-year-old children of the nobility, government clerks, and even lesser ranked officials, must learn basic mathematics and geometry, and should be tested on it at the end of their studies."

  • "All of Peter's male children had died—the eldest son, Alexei, had been tortured and killed on Peter's orders in 1718 because he had disobeyed his father and opposed official policies."
Wikipedia (April 2011):
  • "Elizabeth, the second-oldest surviving daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I of Russia... Out of the twelve children of Peter and Catherine (five sons and seven daughters), only two daughters, Anna and Elizabeth survived... 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... At the time of Peter's death, no marriage plan had succeeded."

  •  "She was commonly known as the leading beauty of the Russian Empire."

  • "... 1741, Elizabeth seized power with the help of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. ... 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, an unusual promise that she - notably - kept to throughout her life... 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."

  • "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 Cathedral remain the chief monuments of her reign in Saint Petersburg."

  • "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 [See Catherine II below]."

  • "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."
Catherine II (Catherine the Great)
Wikipedia (April 2011):
  • "Born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia on 2 May [O.S. 21 April] 1729 as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg."

  • "Catherine's father ...  held the rank of a Prussian [German] general ... Catherine did have some (very remote) Russian ancestry, and two of her first cousins became Kings of Sweden: Gustav III and Charles XIII. In accordance with the custom then prevailing in the ruling dynasties of Germany, she received her education chiefly from a French governess and from tutors."

  • The choice of Sophia [Catherine II] "as wife of her second cousin, the prospective tsar - Peter of Holstein-Gottorp - resulted from some amount of diplomatic management in which Count Lestocq, Peter's aunt [the ruling Russian Empress Elizabeth - above] and Frederick II of Prussia took part. Lestocq and Frederick wanted to strengthen the friendship between Prussia and Russia.

  • "After the death of the Empress Elizabeth on 5 January 1762, Peter, the Grand Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, succeeded to the throne as Peter III of Russia, and his wife, Grand Duchess Catherine became Empress Consort of Russia. The imperial couple moved into the new Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg."

  • "In July 1762, barely six months after becoming the Tsar, Peter committed the political error of retiring with his Holstein-born courtiers and relatives to Oranienbaum, leaving his wife in Saint Petersburg. On 8 and 9 July the Leib Guard revolted, deposed Peter from power, and proclaimed Catherine the Empress of Russia. The bloodless coup succeeded ... But eight days after the coup, on 17 July 1762 -  just six months after his accession to the throne -  Peter III died at Ropsha, at the hands of Alexei Orlov (younger brother to Gregory Orlov, then a court favorite and a participant in the coup). Historians find no evidence for Catherine's complicity in the supposed assassination."
  • "Under her direct auspices the Russian Empire expanded, improved its administration, and continued to modernize along Western European lines. Catherine's rule re-vitalized Russia, which grew stronger than ever and became recognized as one of the great powers of Europe. She had successes in foreign policy and oversaw sometimes brutal reprisals in the wake of rebellion."

  • "Catherine's patronage furthered the evolution of the arts in Russia more than that of any Russian sovereign before or after her.
    Catherine had a reputation as a patron of the arts, literature and education. The Hermitage Museum, which now occupies the whole Winter Palace, began as Catherine's personal collection."

  • "After the French Revolution of 1789, Catherine rejected many principles of the Enlightenment that she had once viewed favorably."
  • "Catherine, throughout her long reign, took many lovers, often elevating them to high positions for as long as they held her interest, and then pensioning them off with large estates and gifts of serfs ... The last of her lovers, Prince Zubov, was 40 years her junior. Her sexual independence led to many of the legends about her."

Photos and their arrangement 2010 Chuck LaChiusa
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