emperor paul i

4

LIST OF ROMANOV RULERS: #13 - Emperor Paul I of Russia (1 October 1754 - 23 March 1801)

His features were ugly except the eyes, whose expression when he was not overcome with rage, his aspect was terrifying. Although his mien was ungraceful, he had a certain reserve of dignity, and especially of good manners, and a polite bearing towards women, which gave a real distinction to his person and proclaimed him a prince and a nobleman.” - Princess Lieven, the wife of a prominent Russian diplomatist.

“He appears lively and active, with a sensible, spirited countenance.” - Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

The southern part of the Romanov gallery, Winter Palace, painted by the Russian painter, Edward Petrovich Hau. On the wall at the left, you can see various portraits of members of the Romanov Family. The first four portraits from left to right are Emperor Paul I, Empress Maria Feodorovna, Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna, and Emperor Alexander I.

5
Russian Imperial Palaces → Saint Michael's Castle

St. Michael’s Castle, also called the Mikhailovsky Castle or the Engineers’ Castle, is a former imperial residence in the historic centre of Saint Petersburg, Russia. St. Michael’s Castle was built as a residence for Emperor Paul I by architects Vincenzo Brenna and Vasili Bazhenov in 1797-1801. The castle looks different from each side, as the architects used motifs of various architectural styles such as French Classicism, Italian Renaissance and Gothic.

Afraid of intrigues and assassination plots, Emperor Paul I disliked the Winter Palace where he never felt safe. Due to his personal fascination with medieval knights and his constant fear of assassination, the new royal residence was built like a castle around a small octagonal courtyard. The building with rounded corners was surrounded by the waters of rivers and canals, transforming the castle area into an artificial island which could only be reached by drawbridges.

Ironically, Paul I was assassinated only 40 nights after he moved into his newly built castle. He was murdered on 12 March 1801, in his own bedroom, by a group of dismissed officers headed by General Bennigsen. The conspirators forced him to a table, and tried to compel him to sign his abdication. Paul offered some resistance, and one of the assassins struck him with a sword, and he was then strangled and trampled to death. He was succeeded by his son, Emperor Alexander I, who was actually in the palace at the time and was informed of his accession by General Nicholas Zubov, one of the assassins.

After Paul’s death, the imperial family returned to the Winter Palace; St. Michael’s Castle was abandoned. In the early 1990s, St. Michael’s Castle became a branch of the Russian Museum and now houses its Portrait Gallery, featuring official portraits of the Russian Emperors and Empresses and various dignitaries and celebrities from the late 17th to the early 20th century.

Count Valerian Zubov, Jean-Louis Voille, 1791.

Younger brother of the last favorite of Catherine II. Reputed by contemporaries as “the handsomest man in Russia”. He was a successful military commander.

He headed the expedition to Persia projected by Platon Zubov. It’s aim was to conquer all Asia up to Tibet. But when the new emperor, Paul I, ascended the throne he secretly recalled all the commanders back  to Russia except commander-in-chief. He disliked his mother's protégé and wanted his disgrace. Zubov was saved from captivity by ataman Platov, future hero of the 1812, who disobeyed emperor’s order.

The Persian campaign was the last one for Zubov.

Mid-18th century / England / This stick of light-coloured cane has a gold handle decorated with engraved rocaille ornament. The upper lid is hinged and inside there is a watch made by the English clockmaker T. Fitter. Belonged to Emperor Paul I. / Hermitage….uhh AWESOME!

It was said that one of the most famous spirits in Saint Petersburg was Paul I. According to some sources Paul first saw the ghostly face of the founder of the city, Peter the Great, on the Senate Square in 1770 and learned from him that he would die soon. Thirty years later, Paul was assassinated in his newly built palace, the Saint Michael’s Castle. His ghost was claimed to be seen by many. Some servants insisted to have seen his restless ghost wandering in the Gatchina Palace at night. The ghost allegedly appeared on the eve of fateful events.

On the claims of these servants, many people in history had hoped to see the ghost. The most prominent case was Nicholas II and his youngest sister Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, who reminisced to have been hunting at night for the ghost of their great-great-grandfather when they were just children in Gatchina. However, unfortunately for them, they did not see the ghostly figure of their ancestor. The ghost was said to be quite harmless and was often heard playing a flute.

“[Alexandra had] an angelic face, complexion so tender and delicate that one might have supposed that [she] lived in ambrosia. …She was of the Greek type of beauty, and very much resembled Alexander [her older brother].”

Madame Vigee Le Brun describing Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna, the eldest daughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia.

’ve never met a woman who was so much afflicted with the need to move, act, play a role and overshadow others. She has charming eyes and manners, confident gait, a proud and graceful posture. Although her features were not classic, her striking fresh complexion, bright eyes and gorgeous hair captivated everyone. She knew perfectly well all the rules of decency and was blessed with strong feelings of the sublime. She spoke briefly but eloquently, her tone was always commanding.”

- Countess Lieven on Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna, the fourth daughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia.