Count Sergei Vasilievich Saltykov (Russian: Сергей Васильевич Салтыков, IPA: [sʲɪrˈɡʲej vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ səltɨˈkof]; c. 1726 – 1765) was a Russian officer (chamberlain) who became the first lover of Empress Catherine the Great after her arrival in Russia.
Saltykov was alleged to be the biological father of Catherine II's son, Paul I of Russia, and this was heavily implied in Catherine's memoirs.[better source needed] It was reported that Paul was "almost certainly the child of [Catherine's] lover." However, 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.[better source needed] In her memoirs, though, Catherine noted the "ugliness" of Saltykov's brother.
The Saltykovs were an ancient boyar family which rivaled the Romanovs in prominence. Saltykov was also descended from several branches of the Rurikid and Gediminid dynasties through the female line as well as from Tatiana Feodorovna, the sister of the first Romanov tsar Michael I. Tsarina Praskovia, the mother of Empress Anna, also 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, and was the sister of Anna Mons and Willem Mons. Modesta (better known under her Russian name Matryona) had been publicly whipped in 1718 and exiled to Siberia after Peter the Great had learnt about her brother Willem'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.[page needed]