Anna of Russia

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Anna Ivanovna (Russian: Анна Ивановна, Anna Ivanovna) (7 February [O.S. 28 January] 1693, Moscow – 28 October [O.S. 17 October] 1740) reigned as Duchess of Courland from 1711 to 1730 and as Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740.

Contents

Accession to the throne

Anna was the daughter of Ivan V of Russia, as well as the niece of Peter the Great. The latter married her to Frederick Wilhelm, Duke of Courland in November 1710, but on the return trip from Saint Petersburg in January 1711, her husband died. Anna continued ruling as Duchess of Courland (now western Latvia) from 1711 to 1730, with the Russian resident, Peter Bestuzhev, as her adviser (and sometimes lover). She never remarried after the death of her husband, but was reputed by her enemies to have indulged in a love affair with Ernst Johann von Biron for many years.

On the death of Peter II, Emperor of Russia, the Russian Supreme Privy Council under Prince Dmitri Galitzine made Anna Empress in 1730. They had hoped that she would feel indebted to the nobles for her unexpected fortune and remain a figurehead at best, and malleable at worst. In the hope of establishing a constitutional monarchy in Russia, they convinced her to sign articles that limited her power. However, these proved a minor inconvenience to her, and soon she established herself as an autocratic ruler, using her popularity with the imperial guards and lesser nobility.

Policies of her reign

As one of her first acts to consolidate this power she restored the security police, which she used to intimidate and terrorize those who opposed her and her policies. Although she did not move the capital back to Moscow, she spent most of her time at that city in the company of her foolish and ignorant maids. Finding delight in humiliating old nobility, she arranged the marriage of old Prince Galitzine, who had incurred her displeasure by marrying a Catholic, with one of her maids (after the death of his first wife), an elderly Kalmyk, dressed them as clowns, and had them spend their wedding night naked in a specially constructed ice palace during the exceptionally harsh winter of 1739–40.[2]

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