Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Anna Ivanovna

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ANNA IVANOVNA, Empress of Russia, daughter of Ivan, brother of Peter the Great, was born in 1693, and married in 1710 to the duke of Courland, who died the following year. After the death of Peter II., in 1730, the imperial council offered the vacant throne to Anna on the following conditions : She was to govern according to the decisions of the supreme council, and she was not allowed, without its consent, either to declare war or to conclude peace, to impose new taxes, to grant any important office of the state, to dispose of crown lands, to contract a matrimonial alliance, or to nominate a successor to the throne. She was also not to punish any noble, or to confiscate any one s property without a legal sentence. Anna signed these conditions without any demur ; but after her arrival at Moscow, a numerous party, jealous of the authority which this con stitution, imitated from that of Sweden, gave to the supreme council, or rather to the families of the Princes Dolgorouki and Galitzin, of whose members it was chiefly composed, petitioned the empress to assume the autocracy of her pre decessors. Anna immediately complied with this request, and the framers of the constitution either were banished to Siberia, or perished on the scaffold. Russia was governed in a most tyrannical and oppressive manner during the whole reign of Anna by her favourite Biren, who was made by her influence duke of Courland. According to Russian authorities, 20,000 victims of Biren s tyranny perished during Anna s reign of six years, and amongst them persons belonging to the highest ranks in the country. The principal events of Anna s reign were the voluntary restoration, in 1732, to Shah Nadir of the Russian provinces, Shirvan, Ghilan, and Mazanderan, acquired by Peter the Great, but which caused more expense than they yielded revenue to Russia; a Chinese embassy at St Petersburg, the only one that was ever sent to Europe; the assistance given to the elector of Saxony and king of Poland, Augustus III., against his competitor Stanislaus Leszczinski, supported by France; a Russian army sent to the assistance of the Emperor Charles VI. against France; a war with Turkey from 1736 to 1739, which, notwithstanding several success ful campaigns, gave no advantage to Russia at the conclusion of peace ; and an advance made into Central Asia by the establishment of the Russian protectorate over the khan of the Kirghises, who, with the assistance of Russian officers, conquered Khiva, but failed to maintain himself there. Anna died in 1740. Her reign is considered as a period of transition from the old Muscovite semi-barbarian manners to the polish, though not the civilisation, of the West.