March 23rd, 1801 – Tsar Paul I of Russia Murdered!

On March 23rd 1801Tsar Paul I of Russia was struck with a sword, then strangled, and finally trampled to death inside his bedroom at St. Michael’s Castle.

Tsar Paul I

Paul I reigned as Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. Officially, he was the only son of Peter III (reigned January to July 1762) and of Catherine the Great (reigned 1762-1796), though Catherine hinted that he was fathered by her lover Sergei Saltykov.

Paul remained overshadowed by his mother for much of his life. His reign lasted five years, ending with his assassination by conspirators. His most important achievement was the adoption of the laws of succession to the Russian throne – rules that lasted until the end of the Romanov dynasty and of the Russian Empire.

800px-Paul_i_russia

Tsar Paul I of Russia (1 October [O.S. 20 September] 1754 – 23 March [O.S. 11 March] 1801)

Paul had well-founded premonitions of his own assassination. His attempts to force the nobility to adopt a code of chivalry alienated many of his trusted advisors. The Emperor also discovered outrageous machinations and corruption in the Russian treasury. Although he repealed Catherine’s law which allowed the corporal punishment of the free classes and directed reforms which resulted in greater rights for the peasantry, and better treatment for serfs on agricultural estates, most of his policies were viewed as a great annoyance to the noble class and induced his enemies to work out a plan of action.

A conspiracy was organized, some months before it was executed, by Counts Peter Ludwig von der Pahlen, Nikita Petrovich Panin, and the half-Spanish, half-Neapolitan adventurer Admiral Ribas. The death of Ribas delayed the execution. On the night of March 23rd, 1801, Paul was murdered in his bedroom in the newly built St Michael’s Castle by a band of dismissed officers headed by General Bennigsen, a Hanoverian in the Russian service, and General Yashvil, a Georgian. They charged into his bedroom, flushed with drink after supping together, and found Paul hiding behind some drapes in the corner. The conspirators pulled him out, forced him to the table, and tried to compel him to sign his abdication. Paul offered some resistance, and one of the assassins struck him with a sword, after which he was strangled and trampled to death. He was succeeded by his son, the 23-year-old Alexander I, who was actually in the palace, and to whom General Nikolay Zubov, one of the assassins, announced his accession, accompanied by the admonition, “Time to grow up! Go and rule!”

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

Comments are closed.

Skip to toolbar