Ivan VI of Russia

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Ivan VI Antonovich of Russia (Ivan Antonovich; Russian: Иван VI; Иван Антонович; 23 August [O.S. 12 August] 1740 – 16 July [O.S. 5 July] 1764), was 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.


Tsar of Russia

Ivan was born in Saint Petersburg to Prince Antony Ulrich of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Duchess Anna Leopoldovna of Mecklenburg, niece of Empress Anna of Russia and grand-daughter of Tsar Ivan V.[1] His grand-aunt Empress Anna of Russia adopted the eight-week-old boy and declared him her successor on 5 October 1740. Upon the death of Anna (17 October of the Julian Calendar/28 October of the Gregorian Calendar, 1740) Ivan was proclaimed Emperor, and on the following day Ernst Johann von Biron, duke of Courland, became regent. With the fall of Biron on 8 November, the regency passed to the baby Tsar’s mother, though the vice-chancellor, Andrei Osterman, ran the government.

Fall from the throne and imprisonment

Thirteen months later, a coup d'état placed the Empress Elizabeth on the throne (6 December, 1741), and Ivan and his family were imprisoned in the fortress of Dünamünde (13 December 1742) after a preliminary detention at Riga, from whence the new Empress had at first decided to send them home to Brunswick. In June 1744, following the Lopukhina Affair, they transferred him to Kholmogory on the White Sea, where Ivan, isolated from his family, and seeing no one other than his gaoler (jailer), remained for the next twelve years. When rumours of his confinement at Kholmogory became more prevalent, he was secretly transferred to the fortress of Shlisselburg (1756), where he was still more rigorously guarded, not even the very commandant of the fortress knowing the identity of "a certain prisoner".

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