Eliseeva follows Catherine's memoirs, fragments, and letters into her coup and continues with Dashkova's memoirs, weighing them against memoirs and letters by Peter III
's tutor and Paul's supporter Jakob von Stahlin; Stanislaw Poniatowski, the future king of Poland (and father of Catherine's daughter Anna); James Keith, a British diplomat; Claude-Carloman Ruhliere, a French diplomat; the Danish secretary A.
is seen here to have his own personal and political reasons for discrediting Catherine.
One evening, Captain Mironoff informed his officers that the Yaikian Cossacks, led by Emelyan Pougatcheff, who claimed to be the dead Emperor Peter III
, had risen and were sacking fortresses and committing outrages everywhere.
The commission she convened in Moscow in 1767 to codify Russian law issued an "Act, signed by the Departments, elected from all callings [zvaniia] of the Russian people for the composition of a new Code," which the legal historian Oleg Omel'chenko has described as a "supplementary 'public' [obshchestvennaia] coronation." The act repeated the acclamation of the event and praised Catherine for righting all the wrongs--illegality, financial ruin, and the dishonoring of Orthodoxy that she had attributed to Peter III
. After her accession, a
After all, as a student I had wandered around Leningrad: revisiting the historic sites, from those of the city's founder Peter the Great to his weak and murdered grandson Peter III
; from Nicholas I to Catherine the Great; I had even contemplated a hidden statue of Alexander III (r.
how reliable can Princess Dashkova be about Peter III
in view of her friendship with the empress and the latter's hatred of her husband?).
In fact, the authors, while vying with each other for revisionist laurels, disagree on several reigns; for instance, Aleksandr Mylnikov's study of Peter III
(1761-1762) contradicts Victor Naumov's attempt to offer a new and sympathetic portrait of Elizabeth I (1741-1761), while Aleksandr Kamenskii disputes Mylnikov's rehabilitation of Peter and Evgenii Anisimov's major reassessment of Anna Ivanovna (1730-1740).
To illustrate the contrasting results, Catherine II undertakes a case study of herself and her husband, Peter III
. Although the memoirs end on an unfinished episode (Catherine's conversation with Bestuzhev in anticipation of Empress Elizabeth's decision to send her back to Germany), Vacheva considers the autobiography to be complete because the royal author was able to prove her syllogism (76-77).
But Catherine had blotted her copy book in a more serious way: she had mounted the throne as the result of a military coup d'etat in June 1762, over the body of her murdered husband, Peter III
, the grandson of Peter the Great.
The weakest part of the present work is chapter I which treats Elizabeth and Peter III
, heavily relying on Catherine's Memoirs and overemphasizing the defects of her predecessors.
This brief monograph presents a favorable picture of Peter III
and his brief reign.
PAUL I OF RUSSIA was the son and successor of Catherine the Great, who took the Romanov throne away from her feeble-minded husband, Tsar Peter III
, and had him killed in 1762, an event which ever afterwards preyed on the mind of their son, then a boy of eight.