Anna Ioannovna – Russian Tsaritsa
Anna Ioannovna Romanova (1693 – 1740) was Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740.
She was the daughter of Ivan V of Russia, as well as the niece of Peter the Great. She married Frederick William, Duke of Courland (1710), but her husband died in 1711. She never remarried after the death of her husband, but her enemies said she was in love with Ernst Johann von Biron for many years.
Anna’s ascendancy to the Russian throne was supported by the Russian aristocracy. She was 37 years old at that time.
Anna spent a lot of money on feasts and celebrations. There were a lot of delicious food but almost no alcoholic beverages. The Empress drank very little and didn’t like drunks.
It is known that she loved clowns and dwarfs. There were six of them at her court.
Anna loved cruel jokes. She had fire bells rung throughout St Petersburg just to see the panic. She ordered Prince Nikita Volkonski feed her dog with cream; his wife fed lettuce to her rabbit with her teeth. Volkonski would be forced to ‘marry’ Prince Galitzine; they had to dress as birds, sit in a straw basket outside Anna’s bedroom, and squawk.
Anna Ioanovna could shoot a bow very well, which was quite unusual for a Russian woman of that time.
Finding delight in humiliating old nobility, she arranged the marriage of old Prince Galitzine with one of her maids. Anna 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.
Tsaritsa Anna supported Russia’s emerging interest in ballet. The first public performance of the Russian ballet took place in 1735 and was staged for Anna by Jean-Baptiste Lande.
Soon after, ballet presentations became fashionable. Opera was also introduced to Russia during Anna’s reign, when an Italian composer Francesco Araja was invited to come to St. Petersburg to be director of the new opera company.
On October 5, 1740 Anna Ioannovna had dinner with Biron. Suddenly she fell unconscious. Anna died on October 17 at the age of 47 of kidney disease. She was buried in the Peter and Paul’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.