Anna (Russia)

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Empress Anna in coronation regalia, by Louis Caravaque

Anna Ivanovna ( Russian Анна Ивановна , also - and mainly - Анна Иоанновна / Anna Ioannovna * January 28 jul. / 7. February  1693 greg. In Moscow , † October 17 jul. / 28. October  1740 greg. In Saint Petersburg ) was Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740.



Anna was the fourth daughter of Ivan V (1666–1696) of Russia and his wife Praskovya Fyodorovna Saltykova (1664–1723) and half niece of Tsar Peter I.

Regent in Courland

Anna was married to Duke Friedrich († 1711) in November 1710 and, after his untimely death, acted as the regent of Courland - albeit not undisputed .

Anna resided in Mitau from 1711 and was there completely subject to the benevolence of Peter I. The tsar supported her as regent to ensure Russian influence in Courland, but only gave her a small allowance , which was barely enough to pay the court staff. The Russian Pyotr Mikhailovich Ryumin-Bestuschew acted as Anna's chief steward , who, although almost two decades older, secretly seduced her as a lover and for many years brought her completely under his will. Her mother, Tsarina Praskowja Saltykowa, also wrote to her daughter until her death in 1723, which dictated the lifestyle and choice of relationships.

In 1726, Prince Moritz of Saxony appeared as Anna's courtier at the court of Mitau. The courtship flattered Anna, but less so the tsar, who immediately dispatched Prince Alexander Menshikov to stop this liaison. After Moritz von Sachsen was expelled from Kurland, the Kurland aristocrat Ernst Johann von Biron (1690–1772) rose to be Anna's first favorite. Biron had long acted as secretary to the dowager of the duke, then as court master and close confidante of Anna, in this position he now made himself indispensable. When Anna became Tsarina of Russia in 1730, he followed her to the court in Saint Petersburg.


Ruble coin from 1739 with the image of the Empress

After the death of her second half-nephew (the son of her half-cousin), Emperor Peter II , she ascended the throne and was crowned empress in 1730 . This succession was achieved by the Chancellor Heinrich Johann Friedrich Ostermann , although Anna and Elisabeth , the two daughters of Peter, or their descendants, would have had priority claims to the throne. Ostermann negotiated for his favored succession to the throne with the boyars and under the written admission that the nobility and the senate would have co-determination rights in politics, Anna was enthroned.

This document was revoked by Anna after her coronation. She broke away from the constitutional restrictions of the nobility and proclaimed herself sole ruler. This sudden takeover of power remained an isolated phenomenon. As a result, Anna paid little attention to the affairs of the state and preferred to pursue her amusements, such as hunting in one of her parks. The distinct luxury with which the Empress surrounded herself was unique even by the standards of the Russian court. Despite her political disinterest, Anna had a fine instinct for power. In the ten years of her reign, her rule remained surprisingly stable and did not face any significant opposition.

Under the Empress Anna, Saint Petersburg , the founding of her half-uncle, got the status of the capital back and was fundamentally changed: the city was divided into five districts. The center moved from the Petrograd side to the Great Side at the Admiralty. From 1732 to 1740 urban planning problems were solved here, which for centuries pre-determined the architectural “biography” of Saint Petersburg. The three-lane street system in the center of the city designed by Empress Anna and her commission still determines its structure today. Nevsky Prospect , Gorokhovaya Ulitsa and Voznesensky Prospect , starting from the Admiralty, radiate through the historical core.

Under Anna's government, the Baltic German nobility, namely her favorite Ernst Johann von Biron, received great influence (see also: German rule ) . Under her name he is said to have executed 12,000 conspirators and banished 20,000 others to Siberia. The Cabinet of Ministers had been headed by Chancellor Golovkin since 1731 , Andrei Iwanowitsch Ostermann acted as Vice Chancellor, Cherkassky acted as Cabinet Minister , to whom Ministers Jaguschinski and Wolynski also joined in 1735 . Burkhard Christoph von Münnich , appointed field marshal in 1732 , commanded the Russian army and fought against the Turks from 1736 to 1739. But the favorite Biron remained the undisputed most important advisor to the Tsarina and was appointed Duke of Courland by Anna in 1737 . Under their government, the Tsarist Empire triggered the War of the Polish Succession (1733–1738) and the Russo-Austrian Turkish War (1736–1739) in 1733 , which, however, led to only minor conquests.

Her ten-year reign is also referred to as the "dark epoch" between the era of Peter the Great and that of Empress Elisabeth Petrovna .


Since their short marriage remained childless and no male heir to the throne was appointed, Anna appointed her great-nephew, the grandson of her older sister Katharina , as her successor, who was known as Ivan VI as a toddler . (1740–1764) proclaimed emperor. However, this turned out to be a difficult legacy and had no political endurance. The enthronement of her two-month-old great-nephew again plunged Russia into turmoil.


  • Evgeny Anissimow: Tsar women on the Russian throne , Pereprawa Verlag, Vienna 2008
  • Winkler Prins' geïllustreerde Encyclopaedie. Amsterdam Elsevier, 1905–1912, there in: Eerste Deel. A-Arabie , p. 704.
  • Aristide window in: Hans-Joachim Torke (Ed.): The Russian Tsars 1547–1917. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-406-42105-9 .
  • EM Almedingen: The Romanovs - The History of a Dynasty, Russia 1613–1917. Ullstein publishing house, Frankfurt / M. 1992, ISBN 3-548-34952-8 .
  • Gertrud Fussenegger : Rulers - women who made history. Verlag Albatros, Düsseldorf 2003, ISBN 3-491-96094-0 .

Web links

Commons : Anna of Russia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. In contemporary linguistic usage as well as abroad it remained customary until 1917 to continue speaking of the tsar and has been preserved in the consciousness of posterity. What this affected was not the current dignity of the empire, but the continuation of the specifically Russian reality, in the form of the Moscow tsarist empire, which served as the basis of the new empire. In the 19th century, this led to a conceptual language in literature that was not appropriate to the source and to an outmoded conceptual apparatus in German literature. In: Hans-Joachim Torke: The Russian Tsars 1547-1917. P. 8; Hans-Joachim Torke: The state-related society in the Moscow Empire. Leiden 1974, p. 2; Reinhard Wittram: The Russian Empire and its shape change. In: Historical magazine. Volume 187, Issue 3 (June 1959), pp. 568-593, p. 569.
  2. a b Antonius Lux (ed.): Great women of world history. 1000 biographies in words and pictures . Sebastian Lux Verlag , Munich 1963, p. 27.
predecessor Office successor
Peter II Empress of Russia
Ivan VI
Friedrich Wilhelm Kettler Regent of the Duchies of Courland and Semgallia