The New International Encyclopædia/Anna Ivanovna

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ANNA IVANOVNA, än'nȧ ḗ-vä'nōv-nȧ (1693-1740). Empress of Russia. She was the second daughter of Ivan, the elder brother of Peter the Great. She was married in 1710 to the Duke of Courland, the last of his race, who died in the following year. The throne of Russia was offered to her by the Supreme Council on the death of Peter II. in 1730, on conditions which greatly limited the power of the monarchy, terms which she soon broke. Her elevation was greatly due to the intrigues of the chancellor, Ostermann, who had had the charge of her education, but who was disappointed in finding her not so grateful and tractable as he had expected. For some years, however, her rule was tolerable. Abroad, Russia fought successfully in the War of the Polish Succession. Internally the army was reformed, greater liberty was allowed to the landed gentry, and government debts were paid, though to do so the peasants were crushed down with taxes. But her paramour, Biron, a German of low extraction, for whom she had obtained the Duchy of Courland, having determined to govern the nation as well as the Empress, a sudden and deplorable change ensued. This man, a blood-thirsty and avaricious wretch, established something like a reign of terror through the land. He is said to have banished not less than 20,000 persons to Siberia; numbers were knouted, had their tongues cut out, or were broken alive on the wheel. Eleven thousand perished in this way. Prince Basil Dolgoruki and others of his family suffered the ignominy of the scaffold. At length the health of the Empress gave way. She died on October 28, 1740, and left the throne to her grand-nephew Ivan, with Biron as regent. See Russia, and Biron.