The New International Encyclopædia/Krüdener, Barbara Juliane, Baroness von
KRÜDENER, krụ'den-ẽr, Barbara Juliane, Baronness von (1764-1824). A novelist of the Romantic school and one of the most prominent apostles of Pietism during the early years of the nineteenth century. She was born at Riga, November 21, 1764, the daughter of Privy Councilor von Vietingkoff, one of the richest landowners of Livonia. In 1783 she married Baron Burkhard von Krüdener, a widower of fifty and a rising diplomat, at this time attached to the Russian Embassy at Paris. In 1784 the Baron became Ambassador to Venice and two years later was transferred to Copenhagen. The young wife devoted herself to her husband with an excess of tenderness which proceeded from her absence of love. Bad health and ennui sent her in 1789 to France, where she lived in Paris, Barèges, and Montpellier, surrounded by a little court of sentimental worshipers, chief among whom was Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, author of Paul and Virginia. In France, too, she fell in love with a young officer in the Hussars, and with two brief intervals lived apart from her husband, and in 1701 she returned to her husband, confessed her guilt, and demanded her freedom. The honor of the name made this impossible, but except for a temporary reconciliation in 1793 and a subsequent spasmodic return to her marital duties, the two lived apart till the Baron's death in 1802. For the Baroness this was a period of gay frivolity passed in Germany and Switzerland. In 1801 she met Madame de Staël at Coppet and in December accompanied her to Paris, where her wonderful powers of witchery sprang into full play. In 1803 she published Valérie, a novel of feeling, based on the love episode with her husband's secretary. It was marked by charm of style and a delicacy of sentiment bordering on mysticism. The author of Valérie took her place among the literary gods of Paris.
In 1804 she returned to Riga and there in the following year occurred her remarkable ‘conversion’ to the teachings of the Moravians. She speedily began to preach the worth of unworldliness, self-surrender to the will of God, and a return to the simplicity of Christ's teaching. At Königsberg, in 1807, Queen Louise of Prussia fell under her influence. From Königsberg she traversed Germany to Kar
slruhe, where she associated much with Jung-Stilling (q.v.) and became thoroughly steeped in pietism and a convert to dreams of the millennium. For nearly eight years she continued her missionary work in Germany, till in May, 1815, at Heilbronn in Württemberg, she met the Emperor Alexander of Russia, then in the full flush of his glory as leader of the victorious Allies against Napoleon. The Emperor fell immediately under her spell. He prayed and read the Scriptures with her and took her with him to Paris, where her house became the centre of a pietistic movement as intense as it was short-lived. Her influence over Alexander continued unabated, and as the Emperor's ‘conscience’ she was instrumental in furthering the formation of the Holy Alliance (q.v.), though she was not its originator, as is frequently stated. With the Czar's departure for Russia her downfall began. She removed to Basel, where her preaching aroused the hostility of the authorities and led to her expulsion. Followed by a mob of fanatics and beggars, she wandered through Northern Switzerland without finding a place of refuge, yet steadfastly pursuing her mission. In 1817 she set out for her home at Kosse. There she remained till 1820, when she went to Saint Petersburg. With Princess Anna Golitzyn she became the leader of a religious revival which spread rapidly among the polite classes and assumed such dimensions as to arouse the displeasure of the Czar, who in addition was angered by Madame Krüdener's intercessions in behalf of the Greeks, who were then engaged in their struggle for independence against the Turks. She was compelled to leave the capital and returned to Kosse; but a dangerous disease brought on by her ascetic practices necessitated her departure for the Crimea, where she died, at Karasu-Bazar, on Christmas morning, 1824. Consult Ford, Life and Letters of Madame Krüdener (London, 1893), which contains a complete bibliography of the subject.