Author Topic: Emperor Peter III, life and death  (Read 46736 times)

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Offline ilyala

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2007, 11:35:48 PM »
if you want my personal opinion... we must remember that at the time of her accession, ivan 6th was still alive and soon afterwards he died. either catherine made sure she got rid of all of her opponents or someone did it for her.

i personally think she was in a situation of passive agreement. something like 'do it if you want to but if this goes out i know nothing of it'.
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Offline imperial angel

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2007, 03:08:12 PM »
I guess it is true that she did not so much order it as approve it. But in Russia, political murders of rulers that were no longer in power really didn't need approval, or an order. They usually happened anyway, like they were a natural concept, which they may have been for that society. Long term imprisonment usually ended in murder or untimely death anyway. But, even knowing that Catherine would approve was like there was an order.

Offline Tsarina_Liz

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #32 on: January 06, 2007, 08:16:25 PM »
I guess it is true that she did not so much order it as approve it. But in Russia, political murders of rulers that were no longer in power really didn't need approval, or an order. They usually happened anyway, like they were a natural concept, which they may have been for that society. Long term imprisonment usually ended in murder or untimely death anyway. But, even knowing that Catherine would approve was like there was an order.

Survival of the fittest, really; killing off your rival makes perfect sense.  Europeans (France, UK, etc.) did it sneakily or through abstract political processes.  The Russians just didn't bother to hide it.  And, honestly, while it made the throne unstable it certainly added to the initial prestige of the victorious party something that would have been beneficial in such a cut throat court.   
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2007, 05:41:28 PM »
That is very true. All the accounts I've read say that Catherine heard about what had happened and acted like she didn't know. Of course, I am sure people thought she did know, or at the very least thought she approved, which she did. But, if it hadn't happened because Catherine took the throne, it would have happened anyway because Peter III was too unpopular to not get murdered, or at least imprisoned by some faction. That's something that happened to his son years later. I think both of them alienated the wrong people, although both of them also had a relative involved in their death, who wanted the throne.

Offline lori_c

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2007, 09:32:30 AM »
One thing that particularly interests me regarding this point is the part the Imperial Guards played in many coups regarding the throne.  Bothe Elizabeth AND Catherine came to the throne this way.  Though Catherine indeed harbored the ambition she certainly required the support and loyalty of the guards to get her on the throne.  Whether or not she gave the outright order probably when her stability as Empress was at it's shakiest would have mattered very much in garnering her loyalty from the ordinary Russian people. 

Peter III was very unpopular anyway.  IMO, the Guards untertook this step of assassination to secure Catherine's position and she simply looked the other way.  Notably nobody was punished and many were very well rewarded afterward. 

Offline Tsarina_Liz

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #35 on: January 10, 2007, 12:05:27 PM »
One thing that particularly interests me regarding this point is the part the Imperial Guards played in many coups regarding the throne.  Bothe Elizabeth AND Catherine came to the throne this way.  Though Catherine indeed harbored the ambition she certainly required the support and loyalty of the guards to get her on the throne.  Whether or not she gave the outright order probably when her stability as Empress was at it's shakiest would have mattered very much in garnering her loyalty from the ordinary Russian people. 

Peter III was very unpopular anyway.  IMO, the Guards untertook this step of assassination to secure Catherine's position and she simply looked the other way.  Notably nobody was punished and many were very well rewarded afterward. 

When it comes to dethroning monarchs, the Guards Regiments are simply tools.  The brains are men like Gregory Orlov and his brothers, who formulate the plan and then wind up the toy soldiers.  It's dangerous, in my opinion, to give them too much credit because it undermines the power of the planners of the revolutions and coups.  But, yes, the Guard Regiments, are important in imperial history for their brute force and impressive effect on the population.  Catherine understood this, which is probably why she did not punish the men.  I personally believe she found the assassination abhorrent but realized that 1) it was necessary, 2) if she looked weak she would be treated as weak which meant her throne would be in danger, and 3) the Guard Regiments would lessen, although not remove, their support putting her in physical danger.  Catherine was playing the game when she rewarded the prison guards, but I caution against seeing it as an act of approval (IMO). 
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #36 on: January 10, 2007, 12:38:21 PM »
I think it was approval, because how else was she to get rid of Peter effectively without it being obvious? She did approve, even if she might not have wanted that known. But, everyone knew anyway, if they had any experience in Russian court politics. Why would she have found the assasination abhorrent? I would be curious why you think that- it intrigues me. I can't think of any reasons myself, but I like to see alternative points of view. I think she personally could have cared less, and politically very much desired it. But of course, it would have been stupid to have ordered it formally, because that could have come back to haunt her. She knew not to gamble like that, she was always very astute.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2007, 12:42:52 PM by imperial angel »

Offline lori_c

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #37 on: January 10, 2007, 01:57:11 PM »
One thing that particularly interests me regarding this point is the part the Imperial Guards played in many coups regarding the throne.  Bothe Elizabeth AND Catherine came to the throne this way.  Though Catherine indeed harbored the ambition she certainly required the support and loyalty of the guards to get her on the throne.  Whether or not she gave the outright order probably when her stability as Empress was at it's shakiest would have mattered very much in garnering her loyalty from the ordinary Russian people. 

Peter III was very unpopular anyway.  IMO, the Guards untertook this step of assassination to secure Catherine's position and she simply looked the other way.  Notably nobody was punished and many were very well rewarded afterward. 

When it comes to dethroning monarchs, the Guards Regiments are simply tools.  The brains are men like Gregory Orlov and his brothers, who formulate the plan and then wind up the toy soldiers.  It's dangerous, in my opinion, to give them too much credit because it undermines the power of the planners of the revolutions and coups.  But, yes, the Guard Regiments, are important in imperial history for their brute force and impressive effect on the population.  Catherine understood this, which is probably why she did not punish the men.  I personally believe she found the assassination abhorrent but realized that 1) it was necessary, 2) if she looked weak she would be treated as weak which meant her throne would be in danger, and 3) the Guard Regiments would lessen, although not remove, their support putting her in physical danger.  Catherine was playing the game when she rewarded the prison guards, but I caution against seeing it as an act of approval (IMO). 

Indeed.  Catherine well understood the ramifications.  And i do agree that she wasn't exactly approving. 

Offline Tsarina_Liz

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2007, 07:29:08 PM »
I think it was approval, because how else was she to get rid of Peter effectively without it being obvious? She did approve, even if she might not have wanted that known. But, everyone knew anyway, if they had any experience in Russian court politics. Why would she have found the assasination abhorrent? I would be curious why you think that- it intrigues me. I can't think of any reasons myself, but I like to see alternative points of view. I think she personally could have cared less, and politically very much desired it. But of course, it would have been stupid to have ordered it formally, because that could have come back to haunt her. She knew not to gamble like that, she was always very astute.

I am of the opinion that Catherine was still too naive to have ordered the death of Peter.  Also, at the time she was still very idealistic (or, as she would put it, "Enlightened") and I cannot see ordering or approving of a murder as being in harmony with her ideals.  I additionally think, and this is a shaky idea I realize, she was still some what under the sway of Elizabeth.  She saw how Elizabeth managed to hold onto the throne while keeping her rival alive and I do think Catherine may have seen this as her only option.  Catherine also was well versed in history and would have known how bloody but also extremely unstable the Russian throne was prior to her advancement.  While she always believed the Russians needed a firm hand, she was determined to be more docile and fair than her predecessors.  As I have said, the deliberate murder of Peter and subsequent shows of approval are definitely some thing I would expect from the later Catherine but not from young Catherine. 
« Last Edit: January 11, 2007, 07:30:59 PM by Tsarina_Liz »
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #39 on: January 12, 2007, 10:44:27 AM »
Well, I think she may have been undecided, and not exactly known what her options were. She may have entertained the idea of keeping him alive, because I agree she was still under the sway of Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a very powerful figure still in her life, and certainly I can still see that swaying her. I maybe am confusing the later Catherine with the earlier Catherine, because it is easy to confuse her more well known persona with her what was like when young. The truth is, she wasn't sure of much. If you read about what she writes in her memoirs about the time just before she took the throne, ( not sure how long before), she seems to be uncertain of many things. And in Russia, issues with the monarchy like this were also very uncertain, and Catherine knew that.

Offline lori_c

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2007, 05:03:12 PM »
I think it was approval, because how else was she to get rid of Peter effectively without it being obvious? She did approve, even if she might not have wanted that known. But, everyone knew anyway, if they had any experience in Russian court politics. Why would she have found the assasination abhorrent? I would be curious why you think that- it intrigues me. I can't think of any reasons myself, but I like to see alternative points of view. I think she personally could have cared less, and politically very much desired it. But of course, it would have been stupid to have ordered it formally, because that could have come back to haunt her. She knew not to gamble like that, she was always very astute.

I am of the opinion that Catherine was still too naive to have ordered the death of Peter.  Also, at the time she was still very idealistic (or, as she would put it, "Enlightened") and I cannot see ordering or approving of a murder as being in harmony with her ideals.  I additionally think, and this is a shaky idea I realize, she was still some what under the sway of Elizabeth.  She saw how Elizabeth managed to hold onto the throne while keeping her rival alive and I do think Catherine may have seen this as her only option.  Catherine also was well versed in history and would have known how bloody but also extremely unstable the Russian throne was prior to her advancement.  While she always believed the Russians needed a firm hand, she was determined to be more docile and fair than her predecessors.  As I have said, the deliberate murder of Peter and subsequent shows of approval are definitely some thing I would expect from the later Catherine but not from young Catherine. 
Indeed, Catherine had a LOT of time to become well versed and educated in the ways of "bloody Russia".  In my opinion, in the beginning she idealized Elizabeth while mentally making notes of what NOT to do when her time came.  I believe this was a factor in taking her two eldest grandsons much in the way Elizabeth did with Paul.  Both women realized what happened to the poor infant Tsar Ivan and neither women wanted to take the chance that ANY children would be used as a catalyst for yet another coup by their detractors.  Perhaps this being the reason that Peter III's death was necessary, not particularly condoned but certainly Catherine would have realized her throne would never be stable while he was alive.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #41 on: January 16, 2007, 11:38:41 AM »
I think that later, when Paul disliked Catherine, and after his mother's death made a great show about reviving the memory of his father, that one of the key factors there is how his father died. He might not have tried to resurrect Peter's memory like that, if Peter had not been murdered. He felt, I believe that Catherine was responsible for it, which wasn't wide of the mark in some sense. He did not like the way his father had died.

Offline lori_c

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #42 on: January 16, 2007, 02:37:21 PM »
Absolutely.  Since Catherine and Paul's relationship wasn't that great, it became easier to make a martyr/saint out of the father who was murdered.  Even without Catherine's approval of Peter III's murder, Paul certainly would have wanted to idealize a father who died in such a fashion and furthermore a father he never really knew.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #43 on: January 16, 2007, 02:48:33 PM »
Peter after he was overthrown no doubt expected to be killed in some way, in the back of his mind I would think, as that is what happened to most in his sitiuation sooner or later. What is surprising is he didn't take steps to do something about Catherine earlier, because he was quite sick of her, he had an heir, and he wanted to marry his mistress Elizabeth V by all accounts, which he could have done under the existing marriage laws. It would have been easy to just divorce her, and put her in a convent, I would think, or something like that. It was Russia..., although perhaps he knew Catherine was rather shrewd to just be forced into the position he was eventually forced into.

Offline lori_c

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Re: Emperor Peter III, life and death
« Reply #44 on: January 16, 2007, 03:10:54 PM »
In the Erickson book "Great Catherine" there is a quote from someone who basically states that the Tsar was removed from the throne like a child being told to go to bed.  I found this quite in line w/Peter's character.  He never rebelled against Elizabeth.  Even though he was heir to the throne of Sweden as well.  He seemed to be dominated by strong willed women.  Even his mistress.  Quite frankly, i think he was scared to death of Catherine because of her intellect.  After their marriage he came to her often frantically when he had a problem, knowing she would help him out of it, and then declare it as his own idea. 

The book describes him almost as a simpleton as far as politics go.  His reliance on Fredrick of Prussia proved to be one of his many undoings in the eyes of the Russian people.  So he probably knew from experience, that Catherine far exceeded him as a political strategist.  He probably figured by quietly letting the throne pass to her, he would be allowed to leave unimpeded not thinking far enough ahead that in Russian, that simply would never have happened. He seriously misjudged the Absolute rule of the Tsar at that point in time.  I feel the throne was in the hands of the guards.  Catherine knew this and built up many loyalties, carefully planning for what she one day knew was to come.  I think she hoped his death wouldn't be a necessesity, but knew deep down it was going to come down to her or him.

I don't feel he was stupid, just in a situation he never wanted to be in, never had any experience or choice in and in taking it out on Catherine, he did away with would have been his best alliance.