Imperial love, Russian style: 3 amorous autocrats who changed history


1. Ivan the Distressing

Tsar Ivan Vasilievich the Terrible, 1897 by Victor Vasnetsov. Source: State Tretyakov GalleryTsar Ivan Vasilievich the Terrible, 1897 by Victor Vasnetsov. Provenance: State Tretyakov Gallery

Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584) is call to minded in Russian history not only as a harsh ruler who fought against feudal fragmentation and combined the nation, but also as a ruler with a record number of wives. Historians are not in the cards as to the exact number – three, or possibly four, of his marriages were conceded by the Orthodox Church. In addition, Ivan had three more de facto brides with whom he did not have a church wedding, not to mention numerous odalisques.

There are numerous reports of Ivan’s lust for young women, and Prince Kurbsky, who fled Russia to Lithuania, accused the czar of what he tell ofed as “Aphrodite’s sins.” Ivan did not deny it, instead admitting in his letters rearwards to Kurbsky that he was “unable to control his flesh,” and “we are all human.”

Ivan the Terrible and Vasilisa Lelentyeva, by Grigory Sedov. Source: State Russian MuseumIvan the Rotten and Vasilisa Lelentyeva, by Grigory Sedov. Source: State Russian Museum

Brides for Ivan the Grave were selected from all over the country and each time he neediness a new bride up to 1,500 noble ladies were brought to Moscow for the tsar to pick out. Most of his wives, however, did not live with Ivan for long. The two exceptions were his word go two wives – Anastasia Zakharyina-Yuryeva, and Maria Temryukovna.

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Ivan mated Anastasia more than all his other wives, and they spent 13 years together. His coupling to Maria lasted eight years. Ivan believed that both handmaidens were poisoned by rebellious boyars. In general, most of Ivan’s helpmates met unfortunate endings. They either died young – Anastasia was not multitudinous than 30 when she took her last breath, while Maria uncommitted her days at about 25 – or they ended their days in an Standard convent.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Ivan once pursued the hand of England’s Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. However, historians assume trust to it had more to do with his plans to form a military alliance with England than any candid amorous feelings.

2. Peter the Great

Peter the Great, 1717, by Jean-Marc Nattier. Source: The Munich ResidenzPeter the Great, 1717, by Jean-Marc Nattier. Inception: The Munich Residenz

The most extraordinary Romanov tsar, Peter the Influential (1672-1725), also had a busy love life, with a few better halves and numerous affairs. His contemporaries recalled, “His Majesty was fond of the fair sex,” and the tsar’s lover for his two wives was great. That said, his love for his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina, whom Peter amalgamate when he was 17, did not last long. “Their love was considerable but it ended only a year,” people close to Peter wrote.

Peter’s moods for his second wife, Marta Skowrońska (1684-1727), were far stronger. Marta developed up an orphan in the household of a local Lutheran pastor in a Baltic town that’s now in modern-day Latvia. During the war with Sweden, Peter’s army was triumphant and as part of the spoils of war Marta became mistress to a junior Russian dick. She then worked her way up the ranks to become mistress to Field Marshal Sheremetev, and then co-signed the household of a close associate of the czar, Alexander Menshikov, through whom she was upped to Peter the Great. In 1711, the charming and beautiful Marta became Peter’s trouble, and is known to history as Empress Catherine I.

Portrait of Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great. By Jean-Marc Nattier. Source: State Hermitage Museum Portrait of Catherine I, wife of Peter the Huge. By Jean-Marc Nattier. Source: State Hermitage Museum

There are through 150 letters from Peter to his empress that survive to the give out present day. “Katerinushka, my dear friend; good day to you! I hear you miss me. Admirably, I miss you too! However, we can reason that affairs of the state come triumph,” the czar wrote in one letter.

At the same time, Peter’s love for Catherine did not hamper him from having numerous affairs. The empress knew of them, but was dexterity. In the final years of his life Peter was ready to break up with Catherine and join in matrimony the daughter of a Moldovan prince, Maria Kantemir. Yet, it’s believed that the Czarina’s cockers in Peter’s inner circle managed to thwart those plans.

3. Catherine the Enormous

Portrait of Catherine the Great as a Lawgiver in the Temple of the Goddess of Justice, early 1780s, by Dmitry Levitsky. Source: State Tretyakov GalleryPortrait of Catherine the Great as a Lawgiver in the Temple of the Goddess of Justice, beginning 1780s, by Dmitry Levitsky. Source: State Tretyakov Gallery

The palm of conquest on the love front among Russian rulers goes to Catherine the First-rate (1729-96). Court rumors attributed numerous amorous deeds to her, and the number of her lovers is believed to be well over 20 during her 34-year precept.

Some of these relationships lasted years, while others were passing. Her longest love affair was with Grigory Orlov, a dashing and valorous officer. He was her favorite for over 10 years, and there was even supposition that Catherine wanted to marry him but was dissuaded.

Portrait of Duke Zubov, by Johann Baptist Lampi the Elder. Source: State Tretyakov GalleryPortrait of Duke Zubov, by Johann Baptist Lampi the Doyen. Source: State Tretyakov Gallery

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Another of Catherine’s soul buddies was Prince Grigory Potemkin, one of the most prominent statesmen of the repeatedly, who is credited with adding Crimea to the Russian Empire. Potemkin extended to have influence on the Empress even after he stopped sharing her bedroom. Historians be convinced of that he even selected his ‘successors.’

The ageing Catherine’s last favorite, Platon Zubov, was not a Potemkin protégé, still. On the contrary, he was instrumental in ending the all-powerful prince’s influence. Catherine tired the last seven years of her life with Zubov, and was seriously in intended with the man even though she was more than 35 years his elder.

As Alexandre Dumas wrote, Catherine the Great was not only mistress to her favorites, but also their queenly. 

Read more: When sparks fly – 5 legendary Russian couples of the lifestyle 100 years

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