Antropov, A. P.
Portrait of the Emperor Peter III.
Portrait of the Emperor Peter III (1728-1762)
Originally named Karl Peter Ulrich Herzog von Holstein-Gottorp, Emperor Peter III was a Prussian duke. The son of Anna, one of Peter the Great's daughters, he was brought to Russia by his aunt Elizabeth shortly after she became Empress of Russia (1741). Renamed Peter (Peter Fiodorovich) in 1742, he was received into the Russian Orthodox Church and proclaimed heir to the Russian throne.
Mentally slow and pro-Prussian, Peter eventually alienated everyone of political consequence including his wife, a German princess who had taken the name of Catherine. His alliance with Prussia and his plans to engage Russia in a war with Denmark to aid his native Holstein in controlling Schleswig enraged some of his followers. He, however, committed his most serious political mistake when he attempted to force the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church to adopt Lutheran religious practices. Believing Peter wished to divorce her, Catherine plotted successfully with her lover Grigory Grigorievich to overthrow him. With the support of the Senate, the church, and the guard, Catherine was crowned Empress of Russia on June 28, 1762. Peter abdicated the following day and was killed shortly thereafter while in the custody of one of Catherine's conspirators. (00176)