Peter II


Peter was born in Saint Petersburg on 18 October 1715 (Julian calendar). From his childhood the orphan grand duke was kept in the strictest seclusion. His grandfather, Peter the Great, systematically ignored him. His earliest governesses were the wives of a tailor and a vintner from the Dutch settlement; a sailor called Norman taught him the rudiments of navigation; and, when he grew older, he was placed under the care of a Hungarian refugee, Janos Zeikin, who seems to have been a conscientious teacher.

During the reign of Catherine I, Peter was quite ignored; but just before her death it became clear to those in power that the grandson of Peter the Great could not be kept out of his inheritance much longer. The majority of the nation and three-quarters of the nobility were on his side, while his uncle, Emperor Charles VI, through the imperial ambassador at St Petersburg, persistently urged his claims. The matter was arranged between Alexander Danilovich Menshikov and Count Andrei Ostermann; and on 18 May 1727 Peter II, according to the terms of the forged last will of Catherine I, was proclaimed sovereign autocrat.

The senate, the council and the guards took the oath of allegiance forthwith. The education of the young prince was wisely entrusted to the vice-chancellor Ostermann. Menshikov, who took possession of Peter II and lodged him in his own palace on the Vasilievsky Island, had intended to marry Peter to his daughter Maria; the scheme failed due to his death (September 21, 1727); but Peter only fell into the hands of the equally unscrupulous Prince Vasily Lukich Dolgorukov, who carried him away from Petersburg to Moscow. Peter's coronation was celebrated at that city on 25 February 1728. He was betrothed to his mentor's niece, Princess Catherine Dolgorukova, and the wedding was fixed for 30 January 1730; but on that very day the emperor died of smallpox. While he lay dying, his new wife was pushed into his deathbed in a desperate attempt to make her pregnant. He is buried in the Kremlin, the only post-Petrine Russian monarch given that honor. In fact, with Ivan VI (who was executed and buried in the fortress of Shlisselburg), he is the only post-Petrine monarch not buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

With Peter's death, the direct male line of the Romanov Dynasty ended. He was succeeded by Anna Ivanovna, daughter of Peter the Great's half-brother and co-ruler, Ivan V.

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