Peter von Biron

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Peter von Biron
Duke of Courland and Semigallia
Peter von Biron.PNG
Reign 1769 - 1795
Predecessor Ernst Johann von Biron
Successor Catherine II of Russia (Russian Empire)
Born (1724-02-15)15 February 1724
Mitau, Duchy of Courland and Semigallia
Died 13 January 1800(1800-01-13) (aged 75)
Gellenau Palace, Gellenau, Germany
Spouse Caroline of Waldeck and Pyrmont
Eudoxia Borisovna Yusupova
Dorothea von Medem
Issue Wilhelmine von Sagan
Luise Pauline Maria Biron
Johanna Katharina
Dorothea von Biron
House House of Biron
Father Ernst Johann von Biron
Mother Benigna Gottlieb von Trotha gt Treyden
Religion Lutheranism
Coat of arms as Duke of Courland

Peter von Biron (15 February 1724 – 13 January 1800) was the last Duke of Courland from 1769 to 1795.

Peter was born in Jelgava (German: Mitau) as the son of Ernst Johann von Biron, future Duke of Courland, and his wife Benigna von Trotha. When 16 years old, he was forced to follow his family into the Siberian exile. In 1769, Peter was given the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia by his father. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1771.[1]

In 1775, he founded Academia Petrina in Jelgava hoping that the school would grow into a university. He ceded the government in the Duchy and then its territory to the Russian Empire in 1795, and received in return a high appanage. This helped him to buy and refurbish for his purposes a palace in Berlin's street of Unter den Linden (Palais Kurland, bought in 1782). In 1785, he bought the park and palace in Friedrichsfelde (part of today's Tierpark Berlin), which he rebuilt in luxurious beauty. In April 1786, he purchased the Duchy of Sagan from the Bohemian Lobkovic family, then additionally using the title of Duke of Żagań. In 1795, Russia determined the further fate of Courland when with its allies it began the third division of Poland. Given a "nice recommendation" by Russia, Duke Peter von Biron gave up his rights to Russia. With the signing of the final document on 28 March 1795, the Duchy of Courland ceased to exist. Five years later, Peter died in Gellenau.

Marriage and issue[edit]

Peter married:

  1. Princess Caroline of Waldeck and Pyrmont (14 August 1748 - 1782) in 1765; divorced in 1772
  2. Princess Eudoxia Borisovna Yusopova (16 May 1743 - 1780) in 1774; divorced in 1778
  3. Countess Dorothea von Medem (a member of the old Courland nobility) in 1779.[2] They had six children, of whom two died in infancy. The remaining four were:
    • Princess Wilhelmine, Duchess of Sagan; on Peter's death, it was she who inherited the duchy of Sagan in Silesia and the Herrschaft of Náchod in Bohemia.
    • Princess Pauline (19 February 1782, Mitau - 8 January 1845, Vienna); married Prince Friedrich Hermann, Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen; on Peter's death, she inherited the Prager Palais and the Herrschaft of Hohlstein and Nettkow, and on Wilhelmine's death she also inherited the duchy of Sagan in Silesia and the Herrschaft of Náchod in Bohemia.
    • Princess Johanna Katharina (24 June 1783, Würzau - 11 April 1876, Löbichau); married Francesco Ravaschieri Fieschi Squarciafico Pinelli Pignatelli y Aymerich, Duke of Acerenza. In 1806, she inherited the Kurland-Palais in Prague and on her mother's death inherited the Herrschaft of Löbichau in Altenburgischen. She died without posterity.
    • Princess Dorothea, married Edmond de Talleyrand-Périgord, 2nd duke of Talleyrand and 1st duke of Dino in Calabria. A Polish nobleman, Alexander Batowski, was her biological father, but Peter acknowledged her as his own. On Peter's death she inherited the Kurland-Palais in Berlin and the Herrschaft of Deutsch Wartenberg; on her half-sister Pauline's death in 1845 she also inherited the Duchy of Sagan.


  1. ^ "Library archive". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  2. ^ Latvia State Archives, accessed May 2009


  • Hugo Weczerka (Hg.): Handbuch der historischen Stätten Schlesien, Stuttgart 1977
  • Dehio-Handbuch der Kunstdenkmäler in Polen: Schlesien, Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2005
  • Věra Vlčková: Pamětihodnosti panstvί Náchod důchodnίho Jana Müllera. In: Stopami Dějin Náchodska, Nachod 1997
  • Alois Jirasek: Na dvoře vévodském, Historický Obraz. Prag 1953
Peter von Biron
Born: 15 February 1724 Died: 13 January 1800
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ernst Johann von Biron
Duke of Courland
Title abolished
Duchy incorporated into Russian Empire
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Loss of title
Duke of Courland
Succeeded by
Charles II