Paul I of Russia

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Paul I (Russian: Па́вел I Петро́вич; Pavel Petrovich) (1 October [O.S. 20 September] 1754 – 23 March [O.S. 11 March] 1801) was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801.

Contents

Childhood

Paul was born in the Palace of Empress Elisabeth in St Petersburg. He was the son of Elizabeth's heir, her nephew, the Grand Duke Peter, later Emperor Peter III, and his wife, the Grand Duchess Catherine, later Empress Catherine II. In her memoirs, Catherine strongly implies that Paul's father was not Peter, but one of her lovers, Sergei Saltykov. Supporters of Catherine's claim assume that Peter III was sterile, and was unable to even engage in normal sexual relations with her until he had a surgical operation performed, and so could not have sired the boy himself. Although the story was much aired by Paul's enemies, it is possible that this was simply an attempt to cast doubt on Paul's right to the throne, in order to prop up Catherine's own somewhat shaky claim. He physically resembled the Grand Duke so one might doubt the claims of illegitimacy.[citation needed]

During his infancy, Paul was taken from the care of his mother by the Empress Elizabeth, whose ill-judged fondness allegedly injured his health. As a boy, he was reported to be intelligent and good-looking. His pugnosed facial features in later life are attributed to an attack of typhus, from which he suffered in 1771. It has been asserted that his mother hated him, and was only restrained from putting him to death while he was still a boy by the fear of what the consequences of another palace crime might be to herself. Lord Buckinghamshire, the British Ambassador at her court, expressed this opinion as early as 1764. However, others suggest that the Empress, who was usually very fond of children, treated Paul with kindness. He was put in the charge of a trustworthy governor, Nikita Ivanovich Panin, and of competent tutors.

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