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Peter II

PETER II

(17151730), emperor of Russia, May 1727 to January 1730.

Son of Tsarevich Alexis Petrovich and Princess Charlotte of Wolfenbüttel, and grandson of Peter I, the future Peter II had an unfortunate start in life. His German mother died soon after his birth, and in 1718 his father died in prison after being tortured and condemned to death for treason. Peter I did not mistreat his grandson, but feared him as a possible rallying point for conservatives. He did not groom him as his heir, and a new Law on Succession (1722) rejected primogeniture and made it possible for the ruler to nominate his successor. During the reign of his step-grandmother, Catherine I (17251727), young Peter found himself under the protection of Prince Alexander Menshikov, who betrothed him to his daughter Maria and persuaded Catherine to name him as her successor, in the hope of stealing ground from the old nobility and gaining popularity by restoring the male line. On the day of Catherine's death, Peter was proclaimed emperor.

For the rest of Peter's short life it was a question of who could manipulate him before he developed a mind of his own. At first Menshikov kept the emperor under his wing, but, following a bout of illness in the summer of 1727, Menshikov was marginalized then banished by members of the powerful Dolgoruky clan, backed by the emperor's grandmother, Peter I's ex-wife Yevdokia. Peter II was crowned in Moscow on March 8 (February 25 O.S.), 1728. His chief adviser was now Prince Alexis Grigorevich Dolgoruky, but the power behind the government was Heinrich Osterman. Both men were members of the Supreme Privy Council. After his coronation Peter stayed in Moscow, where he devoted much of his time to hunting. Portraits show a handsome boy dressed in the latest Western fashion. His short reign has sometimes been associated with a move to reject many of Peter's reforms, but there is no evidence that Peter II or his circle planned to return to the old ways, even if magnates welcomed the opportunity to spend more time on their Moscow estates. According to one source, young Peter wished to "follow in the steps of his grandfather." He did not get the chance. In fall 1729 he was betrothed to Prince Dolgoruky's daughter Catherine, but the wedding never took place. On January 29 (January 18 O.S.), 1730, he died from smallpox, without nominating a successor. The last of the Romanov male line, he was buried in the Archangel Cathedral in Moscow.

See also: catherine i; menshikov, alexander danilovich; romanov dynasty

bibliography

Raleigh, D. J. (1996). The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

Lindsey Hughes

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Peter II (czar of Russia)

Peter II, 1715–30, czar of Russia (1727–30). A grandson of Peter I and the son of the czarevich Alexis, he succeeded on the death of Catherine I. He was too young to rule, but he willingly lent himself to a court intrigue, led by the Gallitzin and Dolgoruki families, which resulted in the fall of the all-powerful minister, A. D. Menshikov. Peter was betrothed to Catherine Dolgoruki, but died of smallpox on his wedding day. He was succeeded by his cousin Anna (Anna Ivanovna).

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"Peter II (czar of Russia)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Peter II (czar of Russia)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/peter-ii-czar-russia