Biography of Zar de Rusia Pablo I (1754-1801)

Russia Tsar of the Romanov Dynasty, born in Petersburgo 1 October 1754 and died at the Palace of San Miguel in the same city on March 23, 1801. His full name was Pablo Petrowitz.

Biographical synthesis

Unappreciated by his mother and predecessor on the throne, Catherine II, saw long committed their succession rights. When he/she was finally crowned in 1796, its unstable nature and resentment toward her mother originated a total change in Russian policy, especially with respect to Foreign Affairs (allied to Napoleón Bonaparte). Alarmed, some nobles assassinated him in 1801 to Enthrone his son Alejandro I.

The insecure path to the throne: the feud with his mother Catherine II

He was the son of the Tsar Pedro III (when it was still great Duke) and of Catherine II the great, although a hint of own Catalina in his memoirs has led to think that it was the result of the relationship between her and a count named Serguei Saltikov. Both face little graceful and flat nose and the unstable character of Paul, like Pedro III, seem to deny this assumption. In any case, the child was educated by the still-Tsarina Elizabeth Petrowna, without hardly I deal with her mother, who showed little interest in it. However, when in 1762 Catherine dethroned and did kill Pedro III, Paul, who was already Grand Duke, was proclaimed successor (was seven years of age); to give force to his coup, the new Empress had at his side the child during the coronation ceremony in the Palacio de winter of St. Petersburg.

Paul, which for many was the legitimate Tsar, did not hesitate to find out the truth of the facts and of the murder of his father. Paul, of nervous character, feared for his life, especially when Iván VI (dethroned by Isabel Petrowna in 1741) died murdered in prison at the instigation of Catalina. This approached him in 1772, when he/she decided to break with her lover Gregory Orlov, so do not support a possible conspiracy that revenge could plan such proximity was not sincere, as when the Empress made sure that Orlov was harmless, he/she put aside any sign of affection towards his son. Upon reaching the age of majority, Paul got married October 10, 1773 with Natalia Guillermina of Hesse-Darmstadt, who died a few years without having given children, so October 7, 1776 married second wife María Sofía Feodorovna de Württemberg; This had four sons and six daughters (Alejandro, 1777;) Constantine, 1779; Alejandra, 1783; Elena, 1784; María, 1786; Catalina, 1788; Olga, 1792; Ana, 1795; Nicolás, 1796; and Miguel, 1798).

Paul was becoming increasingly popular, so Catherine wanted to move him from any political responsibility, excluding him from its Board, as well as make you watch; on the other hand, the Grand Duke seemed not willing to rebellion: his mother was poorly regarded by his personal life disordered, but admired for its military conquests in Europe, the Black Sea and the Caucasus. He/She traveled several times in Europe, giving good impression in the courts he/she visited, but also samples of his irritability. Another point of enmity with Catalina era that had become responsible for his two eldest sons, Alejandro and Constantine, and had accomplished his affection.

In 1796, the mutual dislike led the Empress to decide to get Paul to the throne in favour of his grandson Alejandro, under the succession Act of Pedro el Grande. This measure also had origin in the worsening of the character of the Grand Duke, which many courtiers was going crazy. And if the Prince, who increasingly criticized over his mother, especially its foreign policy, had not even reached that end, yes it had grown in the fear to be killed, trying to find safety, fortifying his residence in Gatchina (at 64 km from Petersburgo). He/She began even to suspect their children and, in fact, seems that Catalina arrived to inform Alejandro your project to the succession; He/She also asked the Grand Duchess María to sign a document where begged Paul that it renounce the throne. Luckily for this, the Empress suffered an attack on 6 November and died the next day, before it would have official to his desire.

The uncertain reign of Paul I

November 17, 1796, at the age of 42, Pablo was finally crowned Tsar. Soon he/she was vengeful toward the memory of her mother, by moving the body of her father Pedro III to the Pedro Santos and Paul Cathedral, burying it next to the Catherine and celebrating joint funeral. It also banished the aristocrats main collaborators with Catalina. With more consequences to these facts, it completely changed the policy of the previous reign, ended with the war against Persia, agreed with Turkey against Austria and Prussia and even apologised to the poles for the partitions of their country (but not restore their status). Also, without right, was proclaimed Grand Master of the order of Malta. He/She only agreed the animosity towards the French Republic, by sending soldiers to help Austria against Napoleon. The unstable Pablo I changed this policy when it was reported that the French consul had intention to restore the monarchy to Enthrone his own family; in this way, drove out to Luis XVIII, who earlier had welcomed with great pomp in Courland (Estonia), and broke relations with Britain, the great enemy of Napoleon. In 1800 he/she ordered the Cossacks of the Don conquer India in anticipation of a British attack; the expedition was a complete failure due to the lack of organization and the spring floods, and 20,000 Cossacks who left very few returned.

His character worsened with power, screaming and punishing who bothered her, complicating the Protocol to enhance his person (forced to stand up and make him bow who was down the street) or dictating rules governing even dress code, reading certain books or travel (forbade contact with other countries to avoid the triumphant revolutionary ideas are extended in France). Many were condemned or banished for disobeying orders that no one knew. Always concerned about their safety, increased the garrison of the Palacio of winter, which on the other hand dressed Prussian-style. It abolished the Act of succession of Pedro el Grande, establishing the primacy of the right of the largest male. This was, therefore, his son Alejandro; to have it controlled, made out of court all his friends and occupied it in simple soldier tasks. Also, under the influence of a favorite, Kutajsov, both of his wife the Empress was apprehensive as her lover Catalina Nelidova.

While the Emperor moved his residence to the Palace of San Miguel, protected by a strong garrison as usually, count Alejandro Pahlen, general Governor of Petersburgo was organizing a conspiracy to force the Tsar to abdicate in his son Alejandro. First he/she convinced him of the need to abandon the throne to Pablo I, promising to respect the life of this. Then he/she sought collaborators in guard Semenovski, faithful to Alejandro, especially since Pablo I had improved the situation of farmers to neglect of the army. More than fifty officers offered their help. A few days before the execution of the plan must have someone tell it to the Tsar, which questioned Pahlen on the same. This got away from the suspicions, but not of the sons of Pablo I, who ordered his house arrest. The conspirators came forward the date of the coup, acting that same night, seven of them, guided by Platon Zubov and Livino Benningsen, entered the imperial bedroom, awakening to the Tsar. Most were drunk and started to chase him around the room, ending with strangle him. He/She was 46 years old and had only been zar during less than five. While the village was informed of the death of Pablo I "by stroke" (version that nobody believed), the already zar Alejandro I felt shocked and came to think to reject the throne. Paul I was buried in the Cathedral of San Pedro and San Pablo.


COWLES, V. The Romanovs. (Barcelona, Noguer: 1975).

KAUS, G. Catherine the great. (Barcelona, youth: 1941).

MAZOUR, A.G. Rise and fall of the Romanovs. (Van Nostrand, Princeton: 1960).

TROVAT, H. Catherine the great. (Paris, Flammarion: 1992).

Links on the Internet ; Page with Pablo I genealogical information (in English). ; Site with abundant information about Pablo I and the other Russian Czars from the Romanov Dynasty (in Russian).