*** boys clothing: European royalty--Peter III

European Royalty: Peter III (Russia, 1761-62)

Tsar Peter III
Figure 1.--This is Tsar Peter III and the young German prinncess his mother, the Emperess Elizabeth, chose for him who and would become Catherine the Great. The portrait suggets a normal family. In fact Prter disliked Catherine and the Emperess Elizabeth basically kidnapped their son. Catherine would play a role in Peter's death. The boy is surely Paul, their son. Many if not most historians question just who was Paul's father. We have not yet identied the artist, but as Pail looks to be about 5 years old, it was was probably painted about 1759. That would be shortly before Elizabeth died and Peter becme tsar.

Peter at first known as Karl was born Karl Peter Ulrich in Kiel, part of the duchy of Schleswig-Holstein (1728). It was located between Denmark and Prussia. He was the only son of Anna Petrovna and Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. More importantly, he was the grandson of two emperors, Peter the Great of Russia and Charles XII of Sweden. Karl's parents died when he was still very young. He was raised by tutors and officials at the Holstein court. They groomed him for the Swedish throne. Despite his lineage, Karl was cruelly raised by his mentors. He was punished for failing at his studies, especially cruel because he just was not very smart. He exhibited some interest in the arts, but failed at nearly every academic subject. What he showed an interest in was the military. He was captivated by military parades and dreamed of being a great military commander. At age 14 his world changed (1742). His childless aunt Empress Elizabeth (of German origins) brought him to Russia when she became empress. He was chosen because he was the grandson of Peter the Great. He was renamed Pyotr (Peter) Fyodorovich and proclaimed heir to the throne. Peter despite the great rise in his prospects hated the move and living in what he saw as backward Russia. He often complained and was unsure the Russian people (meaning the court) would ever accept him. Elizabeth next chose a wife for Peter. He had no input in this and showed no interest in the German oprincess that Elizabeth chose. Elizabeth's choice was Sophie Frederica Auguste, a princess from Anhalt-Zerbst in Saxony, who took the name Catherine. It was a political choice, but Catherine was as notable as Peter was unremarkable. They married (1745). The marriage was a disaster from the very beginning. Catherine was a child of the Enlightenment possessing a prodigious intellect. Peter was basically a dolt who liked playing with toy soldiers. He has been described as 'a child in a man's body' They had two children (Paul and Anna). Paul would become tsar while Anna died as an infant. It is unclear if Peter fathered Paul. It appears that Peter and Catherine never consummated their marriage. They were together for 16 years and both took numerous lovers. Empress Elizabeth appears to have excluded him from governmental affairs, apparently understanding he was incapable. He unquestionably hated being in Russia. His allegiance was oriented toward Germany, especially Prussia. He had no interest in the Russia's people and hated the Orthodox Church. When Elizabeth died, however, Peter succeeded her as tsar (1761). In fairness to Peter, much of what has been known about Peter comes from Catherine's memoirs, which describe him as an idiot and a drunkard. She describes brutal practical jokes and a husband only interested in playing soldier. As Tsar, his primary action was to pull out of the Seven Years War alliance poised to destroy Prussia and Frederick the Great. Concluding an alliance with Prussia, Russia's enemy was apparently the last straw for those who already hated Peter.


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Created: August 12, 2002
Last updated: 6:53 PM 4/28/2019