Russia’s «Elizabethian» revolution, 1741

Автор: Maks Дек 16, 2020

Historians regard 1730s as one of the gloomier periods of Russian history. The niece of Peter the Great, Anna Ioannovna, the dowager duchess of Courland, part of modern Latvia, ruled with a stem hand. Executions were common and imprisonment and exile were freely meted out as punishment, even to representatives of Russia’s most noble families. Russians were particularly galled that Anna surrounded herself almost exclusively with Germans, who were given priority over the most privileged positions in government.

Named first favorite of the empress, Ernst Biron became the most influential person in the empire. Russians, with a snicker, referred to Anna Ioannovna’s reign as Biron’s state. When Anna Ioannovna expired at the end of her ten-year rule, she was succeeded to the throne by her anointed successor, Ivan VI, the two-month-old son of her niece, Anna Leopoldovna, and consort, Anton Ulrich of Braunsweig. Though Biron had been banished from Russia, the council of ministers and other Germanized servants of the state remained the same.

Russia’s nobility considered it their patriotic duty to replace the nest of Germans running the country with a Russian monarch. The conspirators at last decided on Elizabeth, the thirty-two-year-old daughter of Peter the Great and his second wife, Catherine.

The proposal was made to Elizabeth, who vacillated for a considerable time before finally accepting. When at last she appeared in the barracks of the Preobrazhensky Regiment, she was hailed by the officers as Russia’s salvation. Past midnight on 25 November 1741 a small band of ranking officers crept silently to the Winter Palace, part of the distance bearing the czarina on their shoulders. Upon entering the palace, the guards at their posts offered no resistance. Simultaneously, detachments of soldiers commanded by trusted officers fanned out in

the capital and arrested practically all members of Brauns-weig’s government.

Elizabeth stole into the bedchamber of her cousin, Anna Leopoldovna, mother of Ivan VI, and awoke her with the words, “Time to rise, little sister!” Thus began the forty-year reign of Empress Elizabeth.

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