In her memoirs, Empress Catherine II spread rumours that he was the actual father of her son Paul I of Russia. It was reported that Paul is "almost certainly the child of her lover." Most historians, however, believe that her insinuations were motivated by personal animosity towards Paul and desire to hurt him. Actually, Paul greatly resembled his official father Peter III of Russia in character and appearance. There was very little in common between the pugnacious, stocky Paul and tall, handsome Sergei Saltykov. In her memoirs, though, Catherine noted the "ugliness" of Saltykov's brother.
The Saltykovs were an ancient Boyar family, and rivalled the Romanovs in nobility. They descended from a sister of the first Romanov tsar, as well as from several Rurikid branches through female lines. For example, Tsarina Praskovia, the mother of Empress Anna, came from this clan, although her branch was only distantly related to the grandfather of Sergei.
Sergei's wife Matryona Balk was named after her grandmother Modesta Mons, the sister of Anna Mons and Willem Mons. Modesta (better known under her Russian name Matryona) was publicly whipped and exiled to Siberia after Peter the Great had learnt about her husband's affair with his wife Catherine.
^Dangerous Liaisons. Liena Zagare, The New York Sun, Arts & Letters, Pg. 15. August 18, 2005.
^RUSSIA'S OTHELLO Who was Abram Gannibal? For centuries, Alexander Pushkin's great-grandfather – an African slave who became a Russian noble – was thought to be an Abyssinian prince. Only when HughBarnes trekked to Cameroon did the dramatic truth emerge in black and white. Hugh Barnes, The Daily Telegraph (London), Book Section, Pg. 001. July 30, 2005.
^Great Catherine: The Life of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia by Carolly Erickson. Florence King, The American Spectator, Book Review, August 1994.
^"Love, Sex And Power In Affairs Of State And Heart", Canberra Times, July 29, 2006.
^Montefiore, Sebag, The Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin, (St. Martin's Press) New York, NY, 2000.