Empress of Russia. According to the old Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time, her date of birth was January 28, 1693; by the modern Gregorian calendar it was February 7. Anna was the fourth-born daughter of the feeble-minded Tsar Ivan V, Peter the Great's older halfbrother, and his wife Praskoviya Fyodorovna Saltykova. They had five children in total, all daughters. Growing up she lived in Ismailovo, a village near Moscow, with her mother and four sisters. In November 1710 her uncle Peter the Great arranged a marriage for her with Frederick William, the Duke of Courland (modern-day western Latvia). However, the marriage didn't last long, as the Duke died in January 1711 on their return trip from St. Petersburg. From 1711 till 1730, she continued to rule as Duchess of Courland, with Peter Bestuzhev serving as her advisor. After Tsar Peter II, the son of Peter the Great's son Aleksey, died, the Supreme Privy Council, headed by Prince Dmitriy Golitsyn, elected her as Empress, although since she was a woman they put limits on her power. It was the custom in Russia that women, even if they were by birth first in line to the throne if no male heirs were of age or if no male heirs existed, would not be allowed to take to the throne with full power. Many women in Russian royal families of the time were also not allowed to marry, which precluded her from ever remarrying. However, Empress Anna rejected these limits the Supreme Privy Council had proposed and reacted by having the Council dissolved. She crowned herself Empress on April 28, 1730 and immediately set to work governing the country the way she saw fit. One of her first acts as Empress was bringing back the institution of the security police and making them more iron-fisted and intimidatory than ever before. This did not make her very popular with the people, who soon were living in fear of the security police. Although the Russian capital was in St. Petersburg at this time, the Empress spent most of her time in Moscow with her maids. Stories also spread about how she and her German lover Ernst Johann von Biron (known simply as Biron) would humiliate and punish the old nobility, in retaliation for how they had opposed her coming to the throne. One of the many nobles who suffered this fate was Prince Dmitriy Golitsyn. She arranged for him to be married to one of her maids and dressed them both as clowns. The marriage took place in a house of ice she'd had constructed for this occasion, and a few days later the bride died from a cold she'd caught in the ice house. However, as unpopular as the Empress was with the old nobility, the military, and the common people, she did enjoy popularity among the imperial guards and the lesser nobles. Because she didn't like the Russian nobles, she gave the most powerful positions to those of German and Baltic-German descent. One of those people was Biron, whom she made the Duke of Courland. Biron was known and feared all over Russia for his cruelty and sadism, and her affiliation with him earned Empress Anna the nickname "Bironovshchina." Two other prominent Russians of German descent whom she gave high-ranking positions to were Andrey Osterman, who handled foreign affairs, and Burkhardt Munnich, who was put in charge of the military. An important event during her reign as Empress was the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35). Osterman and Munnich allied Russia with the Holy Roman Empire during this war, and at its conclusion crowned Augustus III King of Poland. This was a very successful outcome for Russia and put it on the winning side of the war. In 1736 Empress Anna declared war on the Ottoman Empire, hoping for another successful military victory, but Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor whom they'd just been aligned with, negotiated a separate peace with the Ottomans, which forced Russia to do the same. Russia had to give up all of the Ottoman territory they'd conquered recently, apart from the town of Azov. During the reign of Empress Anna, Russia also began its territorial expansion into Central Asia. In the remaining years of her reign, her health began to decline, and she selected her infant great-nephew Ivan VI, whom she'd just adopted, to be her successor. She did this to secure her own line and to prevent any of Peter the Great's descendants from inheriting the throne. Not even a month after adopting Ivan and declaring him the next ruler of Russia, she died at the age of forty-seven from kidney disease. According to the Russian Julian calendar, her date of death was October 17, 1740; on the Gregorian calendar it was October 28.
Bio by: Carrie-Anne
Friedrich Wilhelm Kettler