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Russian Culture in 1725-1762
The Epoch of Palace Revolutions
The Reign of Catherine I (1725-1727)
The Reign of Peter II (1727-1730)
The Reign of Anna Ivanovna (1730-1740)
The Reign of Elizabeth Petrovna (1741-1761)
The Reign of Peter III (December 25, 1761 - June 28, 1762)
Social and Economical Development of Russia in 1725-1762
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The Reign of Anna Ivanovna (1730-1740)

Being ignorant and simple-minded, Anna Ivanovna preferred brutal amusements (such as shooting birds from the Palace windows) and her jester's playing to affairs of state, and in fact transferred her duties to the closest courtiers. A petty Curlandia landowner E.I. Biron (in 1737 Anna Ivanovna made him the Duke) became a distinguished person of her time.

From the very beginning the new Government was concerned about preserving the results of the Palace revolution of 1730 and finding new supports of the regime. Inaddition to the two Guards regiments, created by Peter the Great, another two regiments were introduced - Ismailovsky and Konnogvardeisky (horse guards). The empress and the circle of her attendants controlled all the movements and maneuvers of the Guards and paid them special attention.

In 1731 the Office of Secret Investigations was established, it was equal in rights and duties with Collegium and was out of Senate control. In the conditions of absolutism, the government used the Office as a mean of terror towards all the groups of malcontents.

In 1731 to make keeping the affairs of state better the Cabinet of Ministers was introduced and it was completed with chancellor I. Golovkin, vice-chancellor A.I. Osterman and secret Councilor Prince A.M. Cherkassky. (After Golovkin's death his place was taken first by P. I. Yaguzhinsky, then by A.P. Volynsky, and later by A.P. Bestuzhev-Rumin.) Having surpassed Senate, Synod and Collegiums, the Cabinet made the most important decisions, concerning affairs of state. Since the middle of 1730s three signatures of the cabinet-ministers had been equal the signature of the Empress. The Empress's favourite the chief chamberlain E. Biron covered the arbitrariness of cabinet-ministers, who in their turn completely obeyed him.

During the reign of Anna Ivanovna the pressure on the nobility was considerably lessened. In 1730 the articles of the Decree about primogeniture, which had established the principles of inheritance of the estate from father to son and thus limited the right to use their land according to their wish, were abolished. In 1731 Land Military School for the nobles was established, on graduating from which the young nobles could became officers. And at last, in 1736 the time of military service for nobles was decreased to 25 years.

Nevertheless, the affairs of state didn't satisfy even those who were close to the throne. For example, the president of Military Collegium field marshal B.Ch. Minikh, who was well received at cabinet-ministers', had to admit that 'Cabinet and all the way of governing during Anna Ivanovna were imperfect and even bad for the country'. During the decade the debts were constantly growing. To collect them military expeditions were being systematically sent to provinces up to 1736; in 1732 and 1733 because of tax interests the landowners were forbidden to move their serfs from one place to another, without announcing the Finance Collegium about it.

At the same time, huge sums of money were spent on keeping the Court with its endless celebrations and festivals. Favouritism flourished out of all proportions. Favourites - foreigners as well as Russians - emptied the exchequer. There was growing discontent among all the levels of society. The 'case' of Artemiy Petrovich Volynsky reflected the situation.
Having started to serve as a soldier in dragoons' regiment in the beginning of the reign of Peter I, Volynsky was quickly obtaining new ranks and in 1738 reached the top of his career - he became a member of the Cabinet of Ministers. He tried to influence the Empress, competing with Biron. Using the idea of defending Russian national interests, Volynsky was going to lessen the influence of 'German party' at the Court and to obtain popularity among compatriots. But if the second aimed was easily achieved, the first one appeared to be beyond his abilities.

In the circle of supporters, grouped around Volynsky (there were court architect P.M. Yeropkin, mine engineer A.F. Khruschov, the president of Commerce Collegium P.I. Musin-Pushkin and others among them), Anna's policy and her favourites were being condemned, and the plans of reformations were being discussed. The collectively drown up 'General project of improving domestic affairs of state' suggested removing foreigners from the government and giving way to the Russian nobles, recovering the leading role of Senate among other government establishments, improving judging by codification of rights, establishing University and Academies for clergy in order to spread education among Russians. But Biron and Osterman ceased all those intentions. In 1740 Volynsky was arrested and then executed, his supporters were severely punished.

In October 1740 Anna Ivanovna died. According to her will her great-nepnep 2-month baby Ivan Antonovich was declared the Emperor and E. I. Biron - the regent. Baby's parents - Anton-Ulrich, the Duke of Braunschweig, and Anna Leopoldovna, the Duchess of Braunschweig and Mecklenburg, were discharged from the power. However, Biron was to fall. In November 1740, field marshal B. C. Minich, with the support of the Guards' troop, overthrew Biron. Anna Leopoldovna became the ruler. As for Minich, he almost didn't use the power he had obtained: in March 1741 A. I. Osterman managed to retire him. Thus vice-chancellor Osterman became the Head of the government.

The government, being used by political adventurers, mostly foreigners, was losing its prestige. In these conditions the memories about the great Tsar- Reformer became almost nostalgic. Hopes of recovering the glorious traditions of Peter I were being connected with his daughter Elizabeth Petrovna. This mood was strongest in Guards' regiments. That was Guards who supported Elizabeth, when on November 25, 1741 leading the Grenadier company she took the Palace, arrested the Braunschweig family and declared the beginning of her reign. The Palace Revolution of 1741 was of anti-German, patriotic character; though on the stage of the preparing foreign diplomats (the envoy of France marquis I.J. de La Shetardi and the envoy of Sweden E.M. Nolken) took part in it. Elizabeth was supported mostly by Guards of tax-estate origin. At first, the noble Guards and the aristocracy were reserved and a bit suspicious about her.

Elizabeth Petrovna, who, when being young, was kin on dresses, dances, masquerades, and at the mature age was weak and suffered from hard disease, was not able to attend to affairs of state systematically. Nevertheless, she understood the interests of the country and showed common sense, when finding gifted educated people, who could be of benefit to the country.

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