Ernst Johann Biron

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Biron, Ernst Johann

 

Born Nov. 23 (Dec. 3), 1690, in Courland; died Dec. 17 (28), 1772, in Mitava. Courland nobleman, count (1730), favorite of Empress Anna Ivanovna.

From 1718, Biron was at Anna Ivanovna’s court in Courland, and in 1730 he came to Russia as grand chamberlain of her court. He had a tremendous influence on the empress. In 1737, with Anna Ivanovna’s assistance, he was elected duke of Courland and governed Courland from St. Petersburg. As willed in Anna Ivanovna’s testament, Biron became regent after her death (Oct. 17, 1740) during the minority of Emperor Ivan VI Antonovich. His regency caused dissatisfaction among the Russian dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry). As a result of a power struggle that turned into a palace revolution, Biron was arrested on Nov. 9, 1740. Anna Leopol’-dovna, mother of Ivan VI, became the ruler of the empire.

Biron was sentenced to death on the charge of seizing the regency and intending to seize the throne, but the death sentence was commuted to exile to Pelym and in 1742, to Yaroslavl. Peter III brought Biron back to St. Petersburg, and Catherine II restored him to the Courland ducal throne.