Elizabeth (1741-1761)

One of the survived Peter the Great’s daughters born on December 18, 1709, Elizabeth was considered to be an ideal successor of the throne and the frivolous court. An attractive, energetic, amorous young woman, who owned a house on the west side of the resent-day Field of Mars, which was regarded to be a center of carefree merrymaking, frequented the barracks of Preobrazhensky Regiment of the Royal Guards not far from her house and won the soldier’s sympathy - they saw Elizabeth as the one who could free the country from Anna Leopoldovna and her hateful regime; and on the night of November 25, 1741 the Empress was overthrown by the Imperial Guard led by Elizabeth. The 32-year-old Elizabeth was proclaimed Empress and on April 25, 1742, she was crowned in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. During the twenty years Elizabeth ruled Russia, the higher echelon of St.Petersburg society became known for its splendor and gracious hospitality, since the Empress left the state affairs to the well chosen advisors and continued the cheerful life she favoured consisting of palace receptions, fancy-dressed balls, masquerades and stage performances. This gorgeous merry taking demanded magnificent interiors – Elizabeth sought to embellish St.Petersburg and its suburbs with grandiose architecture, worthy of the capital city of a great empire and the splendid Baroque architecture reached its peak in Elizabeth’s time: renowned architect Rastrelli built nearly 20 palaces for her; during her reign the Summer Palace, The Mikhailovsky castle, the Anichkov palace, Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo edifices, the Stroganov’s mansion, the Vorontsov, Sheremetiev and Shuvalov Palaces, and the Smolny ensemble were created. She also ordered Rastrelli to create a new Winter Palace, but she never settled there – the Empress died on January 5, 1762, before interior decoration works were finished. And Emperor Peter III, Elizabeth’s nephew, was the first dweller of the magnificent edifice.

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