Yekaterina Petrovna Rostopchina

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Yekaterina Rostopchina
Orest Kiprensky 009.jpeg
Portrait by Orest Kiprensky, 1809
Born Yekaterina Petrovna Protasova
Died 14 September 1859 (aged 83)[1]
Moscow, Russia[1]
Nationality Russian
Occupation Writer, aristocrat
Known for Being the wife of the governor-general of Moscow
Spouse(s) Fyodor Rostopchin

Countess Yekaterina Petrovna Rostopchina (Russian: Екатерина Петровна Ростопчина; 1776 – 14 September 1859) was a Russian aristocrat and writer. She was married to Fyodor Rostopchin, who served as governor of Moscow during the French Invasion of Russia.


Yekaterina was the second of five daughters born to Senator Lieutenant General Pyotr S. Protasov (d. 1794) and his wife Alexandra Ivanovna (d. 1782). She had four sisters:

  • Alexandra Petrovna (1774–1842), married Prince Alexei Golitsyn
  • Varvara Petrovna, died unmarried
  • Vera Petrovna (1780–1814), married Hilarion Vasilyevich Vasilchikov
  • Anna Petrovna, married Count Bartholomew Vasilyevich Tolstoy

Yekaterina and her sisters were orphaned at an early age. They were raised by their aunt, Anna Stepanovna Protasova, who was a lady-in-waiting and a personal friend of the Empress Catherine II. Protasova ensured that her nieces received an excellent education, most notably in foreign languages, including Latin, Greek, but neglecting Russian. They were also not so well educated in Russian history and religion. At the time of Alexander I's coronation, each of the unmarried sisters received the title of countess, at their aunt's request.[1]

Anna Protasova, along with her nieces

Yekaterina was tall, attractive, and possessed an expressive face, and black eyes that were full of life and fire. However, she was reserved and unsociable.[1]

Yekaterina was granted the title maid of honour, in 1791. She married Count Fyodor Vasilievich Rostopchin, who appreciated her serious nature, in early 1794. The couple had four sons and four daughters and had a happy marriage until Yekaterina's conversion to Catholicism.[1]

Being a free-thinker with little knowledge of the Russian Orthodox faith, Catherine, along with her sisters, converted to Roman Catholicism. This conversion destroyed the family's happiness. Her husband was Mayor of Moscow during the Fire of Moscow, and his wife, being a zealous Catholic, was to be invidiously portrayed as an enthroned mistress.[1][citation needed]

In 1814, Rostopchin resigned as Mayor of Moscow, and the couple moved to Germany, and then to France. After their return to Moscow, in 1824, their 18-year-old daughter Yelizaveta, Rostopchin's favorite, died early in March of the following year. Yelizaveta had converted to Catholicism before her death; on his daughter's conversion, Rostopchin wrote, "Under the circumstances, suggests a direct effect of mother." The blow of his daughter's conversion broke the Count, and he died in 1826. Rostopchin left orders before his death that Yekaterina should be removed from supervising the education of their young son Andrei, and from the administration of his estate. Yekaterina was not present at her husband's funeral, and was a lonely woman after he died.[1]

In 1826, the same year as her husband's death, Yekaterina published excerpts of Metropolitan Philaret's defense of Catholic doctrine, which caused a fair amount of controversy. In 1833, she conducted an investigation regarding the information, that there was, in the abbey of Rostopchina Borzhua, a priest's vestments at the altar of the church village of Raven. She inherited the legacy of her husband.[clarification needed][not in citation given] She raised 12 girls, not her own, aged 7–14 years old, all of them French and German. Subsequently, Voronov was admitted into the Catholic Church.[1][clarification needed]

Over the course of time Catholicism only reinforced Yekaterina's restrained and closed nature. In the summer, she lived in a house left to her by her husband, in the abandoned village of Raven. In the winter, she lived in an old house on Basmannaya Street, surrounded by French women and the companion pupils of the Catholics, and used it to support Catholics in the area. But almost no one in the house went to Mass; instead they drew, and read spiritual books.[1][not in citation given]

Yekaterina died on 14 September 1859 at the age of 83. She was buried in a Catholic cemetery in the mountains of Vvedensky, near Moscow.[1]


Sophia F. de Segur
  • Sergei Fyodorovich (1796–1836) received his education at home and, in 1809, was appointed a page. He was appointed adjutant to Hussars Lieutenant Akhtynskiy, in April 1812, without an exam, and then to the Duke of Oldenburg. He later saw service with the Serbian monarch Đorđe Petrović, Prince Mikhail Bogdanovich, and Barclay de Tolly, eventually becoming staff captain of the Cavalry Regiment. Sergei was married to Princess Maria de Ignatievna Ruiz-Sol (1799–1838). The couple died childless.
  • Natalia (1797–1866), author of the notes of the Rostropovich family in 1812, in Yaroslavl. Natalia married Dmitri V. Naryshkin (1792–1831) in Paris, in July 1819, and lived primarily in Crimea because of its patronage of the artist Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky.
  • Mistress Segur (1799–1874), a French children's writer. She married Count Edmond de Segur (1798–1869) in Paris, in July 1819. She lived in France after her marriage, and her favorite seat was the manor Nuet in Normandy, which she bought with money from her father.
  • Paul Fyodorovich (1803–1806)
  • Maria Fyodorovich (born mid. 1805)
  • Yelizaveta Fyodorovich (1807–1825), described as her father's favorite, "a girl of rare beauty, intelligence and dignity". Elizabeth's early death, in March 1825, was a severe blow to the Rostopchin family; she had secretly converted to Catholicism before her death.[1]
  • Mikhail Fyodorovich (born mid. 1810)
  • Andrei Rostopchin (1813–1892), Master of the Horse of the Supreme Court. Andrew served as the Directorate General of Eastern Siberia, and retired in 1886 with the rank of privy councillor. His first wife was Yevdokiya Petrovna Sushkova (1811–1858), a writer, wed in 1833; later on he married Anna Vladimirovna Miretskaya, née Skorobokach (d. 1901).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Русские портреты XVIII и XIX столетий [Russian Portraits of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries] (in Russian and French). Directmedia Publishing. 2013. p. 11. ISBN 978-5-9989-7161-7. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Recueil de preuves sur la vérité de la religion", Moscou, 1810, 12°
  • Miroir de la vie d'un véritable disciple du Christ. Traduit du Russe, Moscou, 1817.
  • Album allégorique", Moscou, 1829, 16°
  • Recueil d'anti-alogies, ou Discussions religieuses, par une dame convertie à la religion catholique. Ouvrage publié par M. Gaston de Ségur, Paris, 1842, 18°
  • Russian Literature portraits XVIII-XIX centuries. Publ. Conducted. Book. Nikolai Mikhailovich. St. Petersburg. In 1906. Volume I Issue I. Number 11.
  • Russian Biographical Dictionary: Romanov-Ryasovsky. – Ed. Russian Historical Society: ed. BL Modzalevsky. – Petrograd: type. ASC. On the Island "Kadima", 1918. Vol. 17. p. 229

External links[edit]