The New International Encyclopædia/Elizabeth Petrovna

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ELIZABETH PETROV'NA (1709-62). Empress of Russia from 1741 to 1762. She was the daughter of Peter the Great and Catharine I., and was born December 29, 1709. On the death of her nephew. Peter II., in 1730, she suffered Anna, Duchess of Courland, daughter of Ivan V., to ascend the throne. (See Anna Ivanovna.) Anna died in 1740, and Ivan, the son of her niece Anna Karlovna (q.v.), an infant of two months, was declared Emperor, and his mother made Regent during his minority. Shortly after this a plot was formed to place Elizabeth upon the throne; the two principal agents in it were Lestocq, a surgeon, and the Marquis de la Chetardie, the French Ambassador. The officers of the army were won over, and on the night of December 5, 1741, the Regent and her husband were taken into custody, and the child Ivan was conveyed to Schlüsselburg. By eight o'clock in the morning the revolution was accomplished. La Chetardie was handsomely rewarded; and Lestocq was created first physician to the Empress, president of the College of Medicine, and Privy Councilor. Elizabeth lacked energy, knowledge, and a love of business and allowed herself to be guided by favorites, corruption reigning at her Court. In order to strengthen her position, she took pains to win over her nephew, the young Prince Peter, the son of her sister, the Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp. She summoned him to Saint Petersburg in the year 1742 and proclaimed him her successor. She took part in the War of the Austrian Succession, and dispatched a large army to the assistance of Maria Theresa, thereby hastening the conclusion of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. At the commencement of the Seven Years' War she allied herself with Austria and France, and invaded Prussia. Her troops won the battles of Grossjägerndorf and Kunersdorf and raided Berlin, but without any decisive result. Elizabeth died January 5, 1762, before the expiration of the war. She founded the University of Moscow and the Academy of Arts at Saint Petersburg. Consult: Bain, The Daughter of Peter the Great (London, 1899); Vandal, Louis XV. et Elisabeth de Russie (Paris, 1862); Weidmayer, Règne d'Elisabeth Petrovna (Saint Petersburg, 1849).