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Princess Louise of Baden
Baden
(13/24 January 1779 – 4 May/16 May 1826) was, later known as Elizabeth Alexeievna (Russian: Елизавета Алексеевна), Empress of Russia during her marriage with Emperor Alexander I. Born Princess Louise of Baden, she was a daughter of Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden, and his wife, Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. She grew up in a close, warm family environment in Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe
during the long reign of her grandfather Charles Frederick, Margrave of Baden. Princess Louise came to Russia in November 1792, when she was chosen by Empress Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II of Russia
as a bride for her eldest grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich of Russia, the future Tsar Alexander I. Louise converted to the Orthodox Church, took the title of Grand Duchess of Russia and traded the name Louise Maria for Elizabeth Alexeievna. She married Alexander on 28 September 1793, when he was fifteen and she was fourteen. Initially the marriage was happy. Elizabeth was beautiful, but shy and withdrawn. She had two daughters, but both died in early childhood. During the reign of her father-in-law, Tsar Paul I, Elizabeth supported her husband's policies and she was with him on the night of Paul’s assassination. As empress consort, Elizabeth Alexeievna took part in Court life and the duties of representation, but the role of first lady in the Empire was reserved for her mother-in-law, Maria Feodorovna, who played a more prominent position than the young empress. For almost two decades, Alexander I and Elizabeth lived in harmony, but led separate lives, with both having affairs. She was neither popular in Russia nor much loved by her Romanov relations. Elizabeth Alexeievna did not play any major political role, but during the Napoleonic Wars, she was a reliable supporter of her husband's policies. She joined her husband at the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
in 1814. After many years living apart, Elizabeth and Alexander I reconciled in the early 1820s. By 1824, they were once again the happy couple of their youth. As Elizabeth's health was fragile, they moved to Taganrog, where Emperor Alexander died in December 1825. Empress Elizabeth died on her return journey to the capital, five months after her husband's death.

Contents

1 Princess of Baden 2 Grand Duchess of Russia 3 Personality 4 Russian Empress 5 Last years 6 Children 7 Ancestry 8 Footnotes 9 References 10 External links

Princess of Baden[edit]

Elizabeth Alexeievna, praised for her beauty, would not find happiness in her marriage or fulfillment in her position in Russia

Elizabeth Alexeievna was born in Karlsruhe, on 24 January [O.S. 13 January] 1779 as Princess Louise Maria Auguste of Baden
Baden
of the House of Zähringen. She was the third of seven children of Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden, and his wife, Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. At birth, the child was so small and weak that doctors feared that she would not live. Louise grew up in a close, warm family environment. She would remain particularly attached to her mother, with whom she maintained an intimate correspondence until her death (The Margravine of Baden outlived her daughter). She received a thoughtful education at the Baden
Baden
court. She spoke and wrote both in French and German; studied history, geography, philosophy, and French and German literature.[1] Thanks to the close proximity between Baden
Baden
and France, she was well acquainted with French culture and refinements, as was the custom of that era. Because her grandfather, the reigning Margrave of Baden, was not rich, the family lived modestly by royal standards. Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great
was looking for a bride for her eldest grandson, the future Alexander I, and set her eyes on the Princesses of Baden who were the nieces of the Queen of Prussia and the deceased Grand Duchess Natalia Alexeievna (Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt)
Natalia Alexeievna (Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt)
who had been the first spouse of Grand Duke Paul of Russia. Thus, an alliance to Prussia and several German royal houses they were closely related to would be a beneficial outcome. After favorable impressions, Catherine invited Princess Louise and her younger sister Frederica, who later became Queen of Sweden, to Russia. In the autumn of 1792, the two sisters arrived in St. Petersburg. The Empress was delighted by Louise, finding her a model of beauty, charm, and honesty.[2] Louise herself was attracted to Alexander; he was tall and handsome. At first, Alexander was shy with his future bride — very young and inexperienced, he did not know how to treat her — and she mistook his reserve for dislike. However, the young couple soon grew fond of each other. "You tell me that I hold the happiness of a certain person in my hands", she wrote to Alexander. "If that is true, then his happiness is assured forever… this person loves me tenderly, and I love him in return, and that will be my happiness… you can be certain that I love you more than I ever can say", she added. They were engaged in May 1793. The Princess learned Russian, converted to the Orthodox Church, took the title of Grand Duchess of Russia and traded the name Louise Maria Auguste for Elizabeth Alexeievna. The wedding took place on 28 September 1793.[2] "It was a marriage between Psyche and Cupid",[2] Catherine wrote to the Prince of Ligne. Elizabeth was only fourteen, her husband a year older. Grand Duchess of Russia[edit]

Elizabeth Alexeievna, by Jean-Laurent Mosnier

Alexander and Elizabeth

Very young when she was married, shy and naïve, Elizabeth Alexeievna was ill-prepared for her new position. She was overwhelmed by the splendor of the Russian court and frightened by the vicious intrigues waged there with cold calculation.[3] She was appalled by the intense sexual intrigues that flourished all around her in a court where adultery was an accepted form of entertainment. The Empress herself set the example for the licentious ways of the court. Catherine's lover, Platon Zubov, even tried to seduce Elizabeth Alexeievna.[4] The Grand Duchess felt lonely and homesick, particularly after her sister Frederica returned to Baden. Elizabeth was abandoned in an alien world where she could never be herself, even among her servants and ladies-in-waiting. The relationship with Alexander was her only source of solace. "Without my husband, who alone makes me happy, I should have died a thousand deaths"[2][3] The first years of the marriage were relatively happy, but the Grand Duchess disappointed Catherine II, who did not live to see a son be born to the young couple. The death of Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great
in November 1796 brought Elizabeth's father-in-law, Paul I, to the Russian Throne. During the years of his reign, Elizabeth avoided Paul's court.[5] She utterly disliked her father-in-law, disapproved the injustices of his government and the bluntness of his character. The first cracks in Elizabeth's marriage began to appear. She did not find fulfillment for her romantic nature in a husband who neglected her. Elizabeth looked for emotional solace elsewhere. She first found refuge for her loneliness in a close intimate friendship with the beautiful Countess Golovina. Later, she started a romantic liaison with Alexander's best friend, the dashing and clever Polish prince, Adam Czartoryski. Their relationship lasted for three years. After more than five years of a childless marriage, on 29 May 1799, Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. At court, some attributed the paternity to the Polish prince. The child had black hair and dark eyes and at the baptism, Tsar Paul I did not fail to express his amazement that two blonde, blue-eyed parents had had a dark-haired child. Elizabeth Alexeievna soon lost both her lover and her daughter. Adam Czartoryski was sent on a diplomatic mission, and Elizabeth's baby daughter did not live long. "As of this morning, I no longer have a child, she is dead" she wrote to her mother on 27 July 1800. "Not an hour of the day passes without my thinking of her, and certainly not a day without my giving her bitter tears. It cannot be otherwise so long as I live, even if she were to be replaced by two dozen children."[6] Personality[edit]

Empress Elizabeth by Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1813. Russian poet Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Pushkin
dedicated her his poem "I wasn't born to amuse the Tsars" (я не рожден царей забавить...)

Elizabeth Alexeievna was distinguished by a soft, melodious voice, and a beautiful oval face, with delicate features, a Greek profile, large almond-shaped blue eyes and curly ash blond hair, which she usually left floating on her shoulders. With an elegant figure, regal carriage and a beautiful angelic face, she was regarded by contemporaries as one of the most beautiful women in Europe and probably the most beautiful consort at that time. Charming, generous and intellectual, Elizabeth Alexeievna loved literature and the arts. She took music lessons from Ludwig-Wilhelm Tepper de Ferguson (1768–after 1824). Unfortunately, she possessed a shy, withdrawn personality which failed to endear her to either the Russian court or her in-laws. She preferred simplicity and solitude to the pomp and ceremony of life at court. Her marriage also failed to bring her fulfillment. Although Elizabeth Alexeievna loved her husband, and encouraged him in many personal and political crises, Alexander neglected her. Their relationship was harmonious, but emotionally distant, with each engaging in love affairs outside their marriage. Russian Empress[edit] The eccentricities of Tsar Paul I led to a plot to overthrow him and place Alexander on the Russian throne. Elizabeth was well aware of this scheme and on the night of Paul's assassination, she was with her husband giving him support. Once Alexander I became Emperor, Elizabeth Alexeievna encouraged him to leave behind the trauma of Paul I's murder and dedicate himself to serve Russia. As Empress Consort, she took part in Court life and the duties of representation, but the first female rank in the Empire was reserved for her mother-in-law Empress Maria Feodorovna. During official events, Empress Marie Feodorovna walked next to the Emperor, while Elizabeth was forced to walk alone behind them. Alexander I treated his wife indifferently, he was polite toward her in public ceremonies and made an effort to have his meals in her company. Elizabeth was too soft and placid to keep a hold on a restless and soul tortured man such as her husband.[7] In 1803, Alexander began a love affair that would continue for more than fifteen years with the Polish Princess Maria Czetwertynska, wife of Prince Dmitri Naryshkin. Princess Maria Naryshkina
Maria Naryshkina
flaunted her liaison at Court in a tasteless, blatant fashion.

Apotheosis of Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna (1813) by Józef Oleszkiewicz, National Museum in Warsaw

Portrait of Elizabeth Alexeievna (1805) by Jean-Laurent Mosnier, The Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk
State Museum of Fine Arts.

Elizabeth Alexeievna, for her part, found solace in her relationship with Adam Czartoryski, who had returned to Russia at Alexander I's ascension to the throne. This liaison ended when she started a love affair with a handsome staff captain, Alexis Okhotnikov (1780–1807). All the correspondence between Elizabeth and Alexis Okhotnikov (and some of her diaries) were destroyed by the Emperor Nicholas I after her death. The affair with Okhotnikov had a tragic end. The staff captain died in 1807 after an attempt on his life. Many contemporaries[who?] considered that Alexander I or his brother Grand Duke Konstantin had ordered him killed. On 16 November 1806, Elizabeth gave birth to a second daughter. There were rumors that the newborn, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexandrovna, was not a child of Emperor Alexander but of Okhotnikov. After his death, Elizabeth Alexeievna felt more abandoned than ever and poured out all her affection on her daughter Elizabeth, "Lisinka". Fifteen months later, the little girl died suddenly of an infection blamed on teething. "Now," wrote Elizabeth to her mother, "I am not longer good for anything in this world, my soul has no more strength to recover from this last blow."[8] The death of their daughter temporarily brought husband and wife closer. Although Elizabeth Alexeievna was not yet thirty years old, neither she nor Alexander had further hopes of a family and they would have no more children. During the Napoleonic Wars, Elizabeth Alexeievna was a reliable supporter of her husband's policies as she had been in other personal and political crises.[7] After the fall of Napoleon, she joined her husband and many of the crowned heads of Europe in the Congress of Vienna (1814), where she was reunited with her old paramour, Adam Czartoryski. He was still in love with her and forgave her past infidelity with Okhotnikov. Their reunion was short-lived. Last years[edit]

Tsaritsa Elizabeth Alexeievna, during the last years of her life, circa 1821.

Carpet on which Elizabeth Alexeievna stood to pray after death of Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia
from Alexander I Palace in Taganrog. "Blessed Be the Place where You Prayed. 1826!"

Once she reached forty, Elizabeth Alexeievna's beauty was largely faded; she left behind any romantic pretensions. Her husband also experienced a personal transformation that drove the couple closer than they ever were. In 1818, Alexander I, immersed in religious mysticism, broke his long relationship with Maria Naryshkina. From then on, husband and wife started to spend more time together. The Empress sympathized deeply with him and Alexander found her supportive when he lost his beloved natural daughter, Sophia. The marked reconciliation between the Emperor and the Empress caused general surprise "I am reduced to thinking of myself sometimes as Alexander's mistress, or as if we had been married secretly..."[9] Elizabeth wrote to her mother. By 1825, Elizabeth Alexeievna's health was frail; she suffered from a lung condition and a nervous indisposition. The doctors recommended her to take a rest in a temperate climate and suggested the southern city of Taganrog, by the sea of Azov. With no comfortable Palace, the Imperial Couple were established in a modest house in Taganrog
Taganrog
by 5 October. They were happy together living in intimate simplicity. On 17 November 1825 Alexander returned to Taganrog
Taganrog
from visiting Crimea with a cold, which developed into typhus, from which he died that December in the arms of his wife. Elizabeth was stricken by her loss, writing "I do not understand myself, I do not understand my destiny... What am I to do with my will, which was entirely subjected to him, with my life, which I loved to devote to him?" [10] The now Dowager Tsarina was too frail to come back to St. Petersburg for the funeral. When Elizabeth Alexeievna finally started her return journey to the capital, she felt so sick that she had to stop at Belev, Tula Province, on the road from Taganrog
Taganrog
to St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg
just a few hours before she was to meet her mother-in-law, who was coming south to greet her. In the early hours of 16 May 1826, towards 4.30 am, when her lady's maid went to check on the Empress, she found her dead in bed. Elizabeth Alexeievna had died of heart failure. Three days after her husband's death Elizabeth had written her mother, "Do not worry too much about me, but if I dared, I would like to follow the one who has been my very life." Children[edit] Alexander I and Elizabeth Alexeievna had two daughters, both of whom died in early childhood. Their common sorrow drew husband and wife closer together for a brief time.

Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (St. Petersburg, 29 May 1799 – St. Petersburg, 8 July 1800) Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexandrovna of Russia
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexandrovna of Russia
(St. Petersburg, 15 November 1806 – St. Petersburg, 12 May 1808)

Ancestry[edit]

Ancestors of Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden)

16. Charles III William, Margrave of Baden-Durlach

8. Friedrich, Hereditary Prince of Baden-Durlach

17. Magdalena Wilhelmine of Württemberg

4. Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden

18. John William Friso, Prince of Orange

9. Princess Amalia of Nassau-Dietz

19. Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel

2. Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden

20. Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt

10. Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt

21. Dorothea Charlotte of Brandenburg-Ansbach

5. Landgravine Karoline Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt

22. Johann Reinhard III of Hanau-Lichtenberg

11. Charlotte of Hanau-Lichtenberg

23. Dorothea Friederike of Brandenburg-Ansbach

1. Princess Louise of Baden

24. Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
=20

12. Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt
=10

25. Dorothea Charlotte of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Dorothea Charlotte of Brandenburg-Ansbach
=21

6. Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt

26. Johann Reinhard III of Hanau-Lichtenberg
Johann Reinhard III of Hanau-Lichtenberg
=22

13. Charlotte of Hanau-Lichtenberg
Charlotte of Hanau-Lichtenberg
=11

27. Dorothea Friederike of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Dorothea Friederike of Brandenburg-Ansbach
=23

3. Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt

28. Christian II, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken

14. Christian III, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken

29. Countess Katharina Agathe of Rappoltstein

7. Countess Palatine Caroline of Zweibrücken

30. Ludwig Kraft, Count of Nassau-Saarbrücken

15. Caroline of Nassau-Saarbrücken

31. Philippine Henriette of Hohenlohe-Langenburg

Footnotes[edit]

^ Rey, Alexander I: The Tsar Who Defeated Napoleon, p. 50 ^ a b c d Lincoln, The Romanovs, p. 385 ^ a b Lincoln, The Romanovs, p. 386 ^ Lincoln, The Romanovs, p. 237 ^ Bergamini, The Tragic Dynasty, p. 267 ^ Troyat, Alexander of Russia, p. 45 ^ a b Bergamini, The Tragic Dynasty, p. 299 ^ Troyat, Alexander of Russia, p. 110 ^ Troyat, Alexander of Russia, p. 279 ^ Troyat, Alexander of Russia, p. 292

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden).

References[edit]

Bergamini, John. The Tragic Dynasty: A History of The Romanovs. Konecky&Konecky. ISBN 1-56852-160-X Lincoln, W. Bruce. The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias. Anchor. ISBN 0-385-27908-6. Rey, Marie-Pierre. Alexander I: The Tsar Who Defeated Napoleon. Northern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0875804667 Troyat, Henri. Alexander of Russia. E.P Dutton, Inc. ISBN 0-525-24144-2 Troyat, Henri. Catherine the Great. Plume. ISBN 0-452-01120-5

External links[edit]

Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden) House of Zähringen Born: 24 January 1779 Died: 16 May 1826

Russian royalty

Preceded by Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg Empress consort of Russia 1801–1825 Succeeded by Charlotte of Prussia

v t e

Princesses of Baden
Baden
by birth

The generations indicate descent from Charles Frederick, the first Grand Duke of a united Baden.

1st generation

Amalie, Princess von Fürstenberg

2nd generation

Princess Amalie Caroline, Queen of Bavaria Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna of Russia Frederica, Queen of Sweden Marie, Duchess of Brunswick and Lunenburg Wilhelmine, Grand Duchess of Hesse Alexandrine, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Marie, Princess of Leiningen Cecilie, Grand Duchess Olga Feodorovna of Russia Sophie, Princess of Lippe Princess Elisabeth Leopoldine, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg

3rd generation

Victoria, Queen of Sweden Marie, Duchess of Anhalt

4th generation

Marie Alexandra, Princess Wolfgang of Hesse

5th generation

Margarita, Princess Tomislav of Yugoslavia*

6th generation

Princess Marie Louise, Mrs. Richard Dudley Baker* Princess Sophie Thyra* Princess Aglaë Margarete*

*Titular princess of Baden
Baden
due to the 1918 German Revolution

v t e

Grand Duchesses of Russia by marriage

1st generation

Charlotte Christine of Brunswick-Lüneburg*

2nd generation

Catherine Alexeievna (Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst)

3rd generation

Natalia Alexeievna (Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt) Maria Feodorovna (Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg)

4th generation

Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden) Anna Feodorovna (Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld) Alexandra Feodorovna (Charlotte of Prussia) Elena Pavlovna (Charlotte of Württemberg)

5th generation

Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse) Alexandra Iosifovna (Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg) Alexandra Petrovna of Oldenburg Olga Feodorovna (Cäcilie of Baden)

6th generation

Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark) Maria Pavlovna (Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin) Elizabeth Feodorovna (Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine) Alexandra Georgievna (Alexandra of Greece and Denmark) Elizaveta Mavrikievna (Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg) Anastasia Nikolaevna (Anastasia of Montenegro) Militza Nikolaevna of Montenegro (Milica of Montenegro) Maria Georgievna (Maria of Greece and Denmark) Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia**

7th generation

Viktoria Feodorovna (Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse)

8th generation

Leonida Bagration of Mukhrani***

* never converted to Orthodoxy ** also a Grand Duchess of Russia by birth *** title granted by Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 35247922 LCCN: no88004222 ISNI: 0000 0000 5534 4055 GND: 118529919 SELIBR: 174236 SUDOC: 17879094X BNF: cb17122994v (data)

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