Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia

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Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna
Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp
Anna Petrovna of Russia by L.Caravaque (1725, Tretyakov gallery).jpg
Portrait by Ivan Nikitin
Born (1708-01-27)27 January 1708
Moscow, Empire of All the Russias
Died 4 March 1728(1728-03-04) (aged 20)
Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Burial Peter and Paul Cathedral, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
Spouse Charles Frederick, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp
Issue Peter III of Russia
House Romanov
Father Peter I of Russia
Mother Catherine I of Russia

Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia, Tsesarevna of Russia (Anna Petrovna Romanova Russian: Анна Петровна; 27 January 1708, in Moscow – 4 March 1728, in Kiel) was the elder daughter of Emperor Peter I of Russia and Empress Catherine I of Russia. Her sister, Elizabeth of Russia, ruled as Empress between 1741 and 1762. Her son Peter ruled as Emperor in 1762 as Elizabeth's heir. She was the Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp by marriage.


Anna was born out of wedlock, although her parents were married in 1712. Her illegitimacy caused several proposed matrimonial alliances to be turned down. It was finally decided that Anna would marry Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, a nephew of childless Charles XII of Sweden.

On 17 March 1721, Karl Friedrich arrived in Imperial Russia to get acquainted with his future wife and father-in-law. He aspired to use the marriage in order to ensure Russia's support for his plans of retrieving Schleswig from Denmark. He also entertained hopes of being backed up by Russia in his claims to the Swedish throne. Under the terms of the Treaty of Nystad Russia promised not to interfere in the internal affairs of Sweden, so his hopes proved ill-founded.

Another possible candidate as a husband was a grandson of Louis XIV of France and Madame de Montespan, Louis Duke of Orleans - the son of the Regent of France for the infant Louis XV of France. The marriage proposal was ignored due to a difference in style of address. Anna was addressed as Her Imperial Highness and Louis was as His Serene Highness.[citation needed]


On 22 November 1724, the marriage contract was signed. By this contract, Anna and Karl Friedrich renounced all rights and claims to the crown of the Russian Empire on behalf of themselves and their descendants. As a result of this clause, the Emperor secured the right to name any of his descendants as his successor on the Russian throne, while the Duke undertook to execute the imperial will without any preconditions.

A few months thereafter, by January 1725, Peter the Great fell mortally ill. As the story goes, on his deathbed he managed to spell the words: to give all..., but could not continue further and sent for Anna to dictate his last will to her. By the time the princess arrived, the Emperor could not pronounce a single word. Based on the story, some historians speculated that Peter's wish was to leave the throne to Anna, but this is not confirmed.

The Duke and Anna wed after Peter's death, on 21 May 1725, in Trinity Church, Saint Petersburg. The couple had one child:

The Duke was admitted into the newly established Supreme Secret Council and exerted a moderate influence on Russian politics. Catherine I's death in 1727 made his position precarious, as the power shifted to the hands of Alexander Menshikov, who aspired to marry the young emperor, Peter II, to his own daughter. A quarrel between the Duke and Menshikov resulted in the former's withdrawing to Holstein on 25 July 1727.

It was here that Anna died on 4 March 1728, within several days of giving birth to Peter, the future Emperor of Russia and progenitor of all the 19th-century Romanovs. She had barely turned 20 years old. Before her death, Anna asked to be buried in Russia, near the tombs of her parents in the Peter and Paul Cathedral. Her last will was executed on 12 November the same year.

According to contemporaries, Anna strikingly resembled her famous father. She was clever and beautiful, well-educated, was fluent in French, German, Italian and Swedish. It is also known that Anna was devoted to children and took care of her nephew, Pyotr Alekseevich, when he was neglected during the reign of Catherine I.


  • The Order of St. Anna (or "Order of Saint Ann"; Russian: Орден святой Анны) was a Holstein and then Russian order of chivalry established by Anna's Husband on 14 February 1735, in honour of Anna. The motto of the Order was "Amantibus Justitiam, Pietatem, Fidem" ("To those who love justice, piety, and fidelity"). Its festival day was 3 February.
  • Through her son she is an ancestor of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia - a pretender to the throne of Russia via his mother Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia; and also of Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia.



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Preceded by
Hedvig Sophia of Sweden
Duchess Consort of Holstein-Gottorp
Succeeded by
Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst