Monday, December 19, 2011

The Daughters of Tsar Paul I

Alexandra Pavlovna, 
Archduchess of Austria (left)
Alexandra's birth was a disappointment to the Empress Catherine, who preferred grandsons to granddaughters. A less pretty child (in the Empress's judgment), she was compared unfavorably to her "good-looking" older brothers and with her younger sister Elena. Nevertheless, she was reportedly Paul's favorite daughter, and that when he received reports that her daughter was miserably unhappy at the Austrian court, he threatened war with Austria. 

Elena Pavlovna, 
Hereditary Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (right)
Elena, named after the legendary Helen of Troy, was the beauty of the imperial family. Judging from Empress Catherine's letters, she preferred Elena's physical appearance to her sister Alexandra. As Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Elena became acquainted and eventually friends with Queen Louise of Prussia. She was the one who 'introduced' the Prussian king and queen to her brother Tsar Alexander I, and their resulting friendship helped forged an alliance between Russia and Prussia against Napoleonic France.

Maria Pavlovna, 
Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Maria was highly precocious as a child, and she was generally regarded as the most intellectual and literary of all Paul's daughters. She used her talents and learning to the improvement of Weimar, and she was able to transform her adoptive country as the cultural and literary center of Europe. 

Catherine Pavlovna, 
Queen of Wurttemberg
After the deaths of Alexandra and Elena at a relatively young age, Catherine, or "Katya" to the family, became the recognized beauty of the imperial family. A very vivacious and ambitious woman with a fiery temper, she was her brother Alexander's favorite sister. Of all Paul's daughters, Catherine was the only one who inherited her father's large dark eyes. She had a strong and daring personality and possessed great intellectual power, but also, according to Countess Lieven, a need to "always eclipse others". 

Anna Pavlovna, 
Queen of the Netherlands
Just like the youngest girls of other families, "Annette" was her father and mother's 'pet'. Unlike her older sisters whose upbringing and education were strictly supervised by Empress Catherine, Anna was brought up by her parents. It can be say that Anna and her younger brothers were Maria Feodorovna's favorite children. She was determined to have her own way in raising her three youngest children. After Paul's assassination, Maria Feodorovna turned to the then six-year-old Anna as source of comfort and consolation. She also became her mother's constant companion, and was horrified when Napoleon Bonaparte proposed to marry the teenage Anna. Nothing came out from this proposal, and Anna was eventually married to the future King of the Netherlands.


Amanda said...

Another great post, Gem! I love your articles about the Russian grand duchesses :)

Gem said...

Dearest Amanda, thank you for your kind comment. The Russian grand duchesses are really very fascinating. Due to their 'high' birth, they were all seemed destined to occupy the most glittering thrones of Europe, but sadly most them die at a very early age before they could do so much for their adoptive countries.

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