Russian Personalities

People well-known in art, sport, film, fashion

Russian Emperor Peter III

Russian Emperor Peter III

Russian Emperor Peter III

Peter III was a very unordinary emperor. He did not know the Russian language, he liked to play soldiers and wanted to baptize Russia according to the Protestant rite. His mysterious death led to the emergence of a whole galaxy of impostors.
The boy was named Karl Peter Ulrich, as the future Russian ruler was born in the port city Kiel, located in the north of the modern German state. To tell the truth, his rule lasted only six months, after which he was the victim of a palace coup, arranged by his wife Catherine II.
The boy was born into the family of Duke Charles Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp, the nephew of the Swedish King Charles XII, and his wife Anna Petrovna, the daughter of Tsar Peter the Great. The child became the heir to the Swedish throne, and besides, in theory he could claim the Russian throne, although according to the idea of his grandfather Peter I this should not have happened. To tell the truth, his childhood was not royal at all. He lost his mother very early, and the father brought up his son like a soldier. At the age of 10 little Karl Peter was awarded the rank of second lieutenant, and a year later the boy was completely orphaned.

Karl Peter spent his childhood with his uncle Adolph Friedrich. The boy did not know the Russian language and was baptized according to the Protestant custom. To tell the truth, he knew only his native German and spoke French a little. Karl Peter was a weak and timid teenager, but at the same time he was kind and simple-minded. The boy loved music and painting. However, it is known that until his death, Emperor Peter III was afraid of the sound of cannon shots and rifle volleys.
The life of the future emperor of the All-Russia had changed when he was 14 years old. Actually, he was the only direct successor of Peter the Great and his aunt Elizabeth I Petrovna invited him to St. Petersburg. There Peter accepted the Orthodox religion and received the Slav name Prince Peter Fyodorovich.
After the death of Elizabeth Petrovna on December 25, 1761, Peter Fedorovich became the ruler. Many historians consider the short period of his reign to be one of the worst for Russia. The main reason for this was the actual cancellation of the results of the Seven Years’ War. Peter really had a bad relationship with military officers, since he stopped the war with Prussia and brought Russian troops from Berlin. Many considered these actions as a betrayal, but for the Russian Empire that war had no special sense.
Georg Christoph Grooth. Portrait of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich

Georg Christoph Grooth. Portrait of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich (Later Emperor Peter III). Oil on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

After the war, the emperor lived in Oranienbaum. There he wrote and promulgated a series of manifestos on the transformation of the state system. He eliminated Secret Chancellery – Secret State Police; declared religious freedom for everyone; canceled ecclesiastical supervision of private life; stopped the persecution of the Old Believers (after his death the government reopened the religious persecution); allowed nobles unrestricted travel abroad (after his death, the “iron curtain” was restored). By the way, it was forbidden to present senators and public officials with gifts, peasants and state lands. Also, the emperor restricted personal dependence of peasants from landlords, announced the non-requirement of military service.
And it was all done in less than half a year of the reign!
Thus, it can be said that Emperor Peter III had intentions to make the Russian empire more free, less totalitarian and more enlightened. But after the death of Peter Fyodorovich, all these innovations were destroyed.
The Emperor Peter III Portrait by Antropov

The Emperor Peter III. Portrait by Antropov, 1762

Personal life
When the future ruler was 17 years old, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna hurried to marry him. She chose the German princess, who became known as Catherine II. But it must be said that Peter III and Catherine II did not tolerate each other and were considered a married couple only legally. Catherine gave birth to Paul I, who later became a ruler, and daughter Anna, who died in infancy.
But it must be added that, despite all the aggression, anger and, most likely, burning jealousy towards his wife, Peter Fyodorovich, nevertheless, had great respect for her mind. In difficult situations, especially economic and financial, he very often asked Catherine for help. To tell the truth, he called Catherine Mrs. Help.
It should be noted that Peter III had many mistresses, the main one was the daughter of General Roman Vorontsov. You know, Vorontsov’s two daughters were presented to the court: Catherine Dashkova, who became the best friend of the imperial wife, and Elizabeth, the favorite woman of Peter.
Peter III and Catherine II

Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich (future Peter III) and Grand Duchess Ekaterina Alekseevna (future Catherine II)

Peter Fyodorovich ruled the country for a little longer than six months. By the summer of 1762, his wife had inspired one of her accomplices to organize a palace coup. The coup took place on June 28, 1762. Struck by betrayal of the most trusted men and having no desire to get involved in the fight for the hateful crown, Peter abdicated. He intended to return to his native country. However, by order of Catherine the deposed emperor was arrested.
And on July 17, 1762, just a week after that, Peter III died. The official cause of death was a hemorrhoidal attack. However, the main version of the death of the emperor was a violent death by the hands of Alexei Orlov, the elder brother of Grigory Orlov, Catherine’s favorite.
Illegal overthrow and the suspicious death of Peter spawned a galaxy of impostors. Only in Russia more than forty people were trying to pass themselves off as the emperor. The most famous of them was Emelyan Pugachev. One of the false Peters even became king of Montenegro. Last imposter was arrested in 1797, 35 years after Peter’s death, and only then the shadow of the Emperor finally found peace.

Russian Emperor Peter III

ashes of Peter III and Catherine II

After official ceremonies, ashes of Peter III and Catherine II were moved from the Winter Palace to the Cathedral of the Peter and Paul Fortress

In the Winter Palace the coffin of Peter III

In the Winter Palace, the coffin of Peter III was placed next to the coffin of Empress Catherine II (the hall was designed by the architect Rinaldi)

Monument to Peter III in his hometown of Kiel

Monument to Peter III in his hometown of Kiel

Oranienbaum the palace of Peter III

Oranienbaum, the palace of Peter III. Built for the future emperor by architect Antonio Rinaldi in 1758-1760

Peter III Fedorovich (Karl Peter Ulrich)

Prominent Peter III Fedorovich (Karl Peter Ulrich) The State Tretyakov Gallery, Georg Christopher Grotto

Peter III

Known Peter III. 1762

Portrait of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich

Portrait of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich. Early 1760s

Portrait of Peter III, Fedor Rokotov

Fedor Rokotov. Portrait of Peter III

The ruble of Peter III 1762 St. Petersburg

The ruble of Peter III, 1762 St. Petersburg, silver (possibly fake 1990-2000)

Tomb of Peter III

Tomb of Peter III

Tsarevich Peter Fedorovich and Grand Duchess Ekaterina Alexeevna

Tsarevich Peter Fedorovich and Grand Duchess Ekaterina Alexeevna. Anna Rosina Lisiewska

plaque with a portrait of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich

Unknown North Russian carver. A plaque with a portrait of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich. 19th century

plaque with a portrait of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich

Unknown North Russian carver. A plaque with a portrait of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich. St. Petersburg