Born Dec. 18 (29), 1709, in the village of Kolomenskoe, near Moscow; died Dec. 25, 1761 (Jan. 5, 1762), in St. Petersburg. Russian empress from Nov. 25, 1741; daughter of Peter I and Catherine I.
Elizaveta Petrovna came to the throne with a palace revolution that overthrew the infant Ivan VI Antonovich and imprisoned him in a fortress. The historian V. O. Kliuchevskii called her “an intelligent and kind, though improper and capricious, Russian lady,” who united “the new European trends” with “the pious old Russian way” (Soch., vol. 4, 1958, pp. 342, 339). Elizaveta Petrovna led an idle and merry life of balls and theatrical performances. She married A. G. Razumovskii (1744), a young Ukrainian cossack choirboy, whom she raised to the rank of count.
Her reign coincided with a significant revival and upsurge in Russia’s economic life. From the early 1750’s, P. I. Schuvalov actually directed internal policy. His activity was connected with such important domestic events as the abolition of internal customhouses and the organization of foreign trade (1753–54) and the convocation of the Commission on the Law Code in the 1750’s.
Other important figures during Elizaveta Petrovna’s reign were Chancellor A. P. Bestuzhev-Riumin, Chief Procurator la. P. Shakhovskoi, the brothers M. I. and R. I. Vorontsov, and I. I. Shuvalov. M. V. Lomonosov founded the University of Moscow (1755).
At the end of her reign, Shuvalov’s basically progressive policy (assistance in organizing the university and the academy of arts, equipping the army with better weapons, establishing banks, conducting a general land survey, and other developments) gave way to patently reactionary tendencies. The so-called Manifesto on the Freedom of the Nobility was prepared. In 1760 a decree was issued giving fief holders the right to deport peasants to Siberia. The peasant and national liberation movements (in the Bashkir and Ural regions) were mercilessly repressed. During Elizaveta Petrovna’s reign, Russia conducted a series of wars, in which her personal sympathies and hatreds played a definite role. The Russian army under the leadership of generals P. S. Saltykov and P. A. Rumiantsev achieved outstanding successes in the Seven Years’ War of 1756–63.
REFERENCESSolov’ev, S. M. “Istoriia Rossii s drevneishikh vremen.” Soch., vols. 21–24. Moscow, 1963–64.
Ocherki istorii SSSR: Period feodalizma, Rossiia vo 2-i chetverti XVIII v. Moscow, 1957.
N. L. RUBINSHTEIN