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[1730 A.D.]

ment in the name of Peter II, in which Catherine Dalgoruki was named as the successor to the throne. With this instrument in one hand and a drawn sword in the other he rushed into the hall, where the senators were assembled in deliberation, and cried aloud, "Long live the empress Dalgoruki!" But no voice seconding him in this wild and shallow trick, he sheathed his sword, and suppressed the fraudulent testament.

The question of the succession was now to be considered; and the only authentic document by which the proceedings of the council could be regulated was the will of Catherine I, which devised the succession to the princess Anna and her posterity, or, in failure, the princess Elizabeth. But Anna had died two years before, and her husband the duke of Holstein had retired into Germany. It was true that there was a young prince, the issue of this marriage; but the council were so averse to the introduction of foreigners into the state that they decided at once against any claim that might be set up in that quarter.

The princess Elizabeth, second in the order of nomination, exhibited no desire to avail herself of the testament of her mother, although she was strongly urged to do so by Lestocq, her physician, preferring to enjoy the ease of a life unburdened by the cares of the state. In these circumstances the council, the senate, and the great officers of state assembled to consult upon the election of a successor to Peter II. Although the male line of the Romanovs was extinct in that sovereign, yet the female line was preserved in the three daughters of Ivan, the stepbrother of Peter the Great, and for some time a partner with him in the government. The eldest was separated from her husband, the duke of Mecklenburg; the second, Anna, duchess of Courland, was a widow living at Mittau; and the third was still unmarried, residing at St. Petersburg. The objection that was entertained against foreign alliances determined the senate to reject the claims of the first, and the choice consequently fell upon Anna Ivanovna.

ANNA IVANOVNA (1730-1740 A.D.)

From the time of the death of Catherine I the prejudice against foreigners had insensibly acquired weight amongst those influential persons who surrounded the throne. The Dolgoruki were the most active agents of this sentiment, through which they hoped at last to reap the largest share of profit themselves. Taking advantage of the jealousy in which the old aristocracy held their privileges, and apprehensive that the new sovereign might act upon the system of her immediate predecessors, they struck upon an expedient by which they hoped to deprive her of the power of exercising her own judgment, and to place her under the control of that irresponsible council which had been instituted by Catherine I. "The welfare of the nation," said Galitzin, in an address to the assembly, "demands that the supreme authority and the unlimited power of the sovereign, by which Russia has suffered so much and which has been sustained chiefly by the influx of foreigners, should be circumscribed, and that the crown should be conferred upon the new sovereign under certain conditions." This proposal was received with universal approbation, and the following conditions were unanimously agreed to:

That the empress should govern solely by the resolves of the high privy council; that she was not, of her own motion, either to wage war or make peace; that she could not, of herself, impose any new tax upon the people; that she could not dispose of any important office, nor inflict capital punishment on any nobleman, nor confiscate his estate, unless he had been previously

[1730 A.D.]

convicted of the crime laid to his charge; that she should not alienate any lands belonging to the crown; and that she could not marry, or nominate an heir, without obtaining, in the first instance, the consent of the council. A strange article was added to these conditions that her chamberlain, von Biren, should not accompany the empress into Russia.

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These conditions, which were apparently intended to curb the tyranny of the throne, aimed at nothing more than the abolition of one description of despotism, for the purpose of substituting a worse in its stead. If it abrogated the supreme and unlimited power of the sovereign, it transferred that power to the secret council, which was thus elevated above the sovereignty and the senate and invested with a complete control over the administration of the public affairs. The proposed change was from an unlimited monarchy to an irresponsible oligarchy.

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The drift of this capitulation was speedily detected by those whose interests it affected the aristocracy. They saw that it concentrated the power of the state in the hands of seven persons; that the Dolgoruki had already possessed themselves of the voice of the council; and that the issue would be the sacrifice of the empire to a family contract. The capitulation, therefore, was scarcely passed when a powerful opposition was raised up against it; and the people, accustomed to the despotism of an unlimited sovereignty, from which, amidst all its severities, they had derived many valuable safeguards and benefits, declared that they preferred rendering obedience to one master instead of seven. This feeling rapidly spread amongst the guards, who had good reasons for objecting to a clause which would throw the patronage of the army into the hands of a few persons, who, instead of promoting the meritorious, would, as a matter of course, provide for their own friends and relatives.


ANNA IVANOVNA (1693-1740)

Nor was the princess Anna insensible to the wrong which she suffered from this novel procedure; and, when the deputation from the council waited upon her to inform her of her election, and the conditions which were annexed to it, she would have refused to subscribe to the capitulation, had she not been already prepared by the advice of General Iagushinski as to the course she ought to pursue. That officer had previously recommended her to accept the conditions, but to revoke them immediately after she should be acknowledged as empress, assuring her, at the same time, that she would be powerfully supported in the proper quarter. She accordingly agreed to the demands of the deputation, and was crowned in the usual forms.

The empress Anna was no sooner established upon the throne, than her friends gave her an opportunity of carrying the advice of General Iagushinski into effect. A petition signed by several hundred noblemen was presented to her, in which she was entreated to abrogate the restrictions which the council had placed upon her authority, and to assume the unlimited power that had hitherto been exercised by her predecessors. Fortified by this requisition,

[1730 A.D.]

the empress presented herself before the council and the senate, and, reading the terms of the capitulation, demanded whether such was the will of the nation. Being answered in the negative by the majority of those who were present, she exclaimed, "Then there is no further need of this paper," and tore the capitulation in pieces. This act was ratified and published in a manifesto which declared that the empress ascended the throne not by election but by hereditary right, and which exacted from the people an oath of allegiance, not to the sovereign and the country, as had formerly been the case, but to the empress alone, as unlimited sovereign, including not only the rights of sovereignty already existing but those that might be asserted hereafter.

Anna was now empress without conditions, and her chamberlain, von Biren, was raised to that place in her councils which Menshikov filled during the reign of Catherine I. The first exercise she made of her power was to abolish the council of seven and to restore to the senate the privileges it enjoyed under Peter the Great. She appointed, however, a cabinet of three persons, with Ostermann at its head, whose duty it was to superintend the affairs of the most pressing importance, leaving to the senate the management of less momentous matters. When these arrangements were completed, the urgent attention of the empress was directed to the foreign relations of the empire, which, at this crisis, demanded serious consideration.

The struggle for the throne in Poland had entailed jealousies which threatened not only to involve the peace of Russia but to draw France and Sweden into the quarrel. The cause of Augustus, the elector of Saxony, which had originally been espoused by Peter I, was still maintained by the Russian cabinet; and, although France made strenuous exertions to reinstate Stanislaus, the father-in-law of Louis XV, yet, by the determined interference of his northern ally, Augustus was proclaimed king of Poland, and Stanislaus was compelled to fly. The mortification which France endured under these circumstances excited in her a strong feeling of hostility against Russia; but there existed still more cogent reasons why she should make an attempt to restrain the advances of that power.

It had long been a favourite point in the policy of France to secure upon the throne of Poland a monarch who should be devoted to her will, and although she had been hitherto defeated in that object, she did not relinquish the hope of its ultimate accomplishment. She saw also rising in the north a gigantic empire, which had already acquired extraordinary power in Europe, and which threatened at last to overshadow and destroy the influence which she had been accustomed to exercise in that part of the globe. Urged by these considerations, and knowing how important it was to Russia to be at peace with Sweden, she left no means untried to engage the court at Stockholm on her side. Her diplomacy succeeded even better than she expected and Russia was once more compelled to watch with vigilance the movements of a dangerous neighbour, who was still suffering under the disastrous effects of a war from which Russia had reaped all the benefits and she the misfortunes.

But affairs pressed with still greater energy in a more remote quarter. It was found by experience that the territories which Peter had acquired in Persia by the treaty entered into between him, the sultan, and the shah were exceedingly burdensome to the country. In his desire for the enlargement of his dominions, Peter overlooked the necessity of ascertaining whether the new provinces were likely to be productive of advantages, either in the way of revenue or as adding strength to the frontiers. In order to preserve the possession of those provinces, it was necessary to maintain a considerable

[1735 A.D.]

garrison in the interior, even in time of peace; they were also frequently exposed to scenes of warfare and devastation; and the climate was so injurious to the health of the Russians that in the course of a few years no less than 130,000 men perished there.

The great cost of these dependencies, and their uselessness in a territorial point of view, determined Anna to relinquish them upon the best terms she could procure from the shah. She accordingly proposed to that prince the restoration of the conquered provinces, upon condition that he would grant to the Russian merchants certain commercial privileges in the trade with Persia. To these terms the shah acceded, and in 1735 Russia made a formal surrender of her Persian possessions. This negotiation was connected with another of still greater importance a defensive treaty between Persia and Russia, which was concluded at the same time. The motives which induced Anna to enter into this alliance require a brief recapitulation of preceding events.

The unfortunate situation in which Peter I was placed upon the banks of the Pruth compelled him to submit to the terms dictated by the Porte, by which he surrendered many important advantages which he had previously obtained by conquest. The principal sacrifices he had made upon that occasion were the evacuation of Azov and the destruction of the fortifications at Taganrog which had the immediate effect of shutting him out from the trade on the Euxine. The annoyances also to which the empire was subjected by the frequent incursions of the Crimean and other Tatars into the border lands, where they committed the most frightful excesses, and the haughty refusal of the Porte to acknowledge the imperial title which the people had conferred upon him, led Peter to meditate a new war against the Turks. He made ample preparations for the fulfilment of this design by fortifying the frontiers in the neighbourhood of Turkey; but his death arrested the execution of the project, which was entirely laid aside by Catherine I and Peter II.

Anna, however, relying upon the assistance of thirty thousand auxiliaries from Germany, considered this a favourable opportunity for reviving a stroke of policy which promised such signal advantages to the country, particularly as the Turk was at this period employed in hostilities against Persia. She did not long want an excuse for opening the war. The Tatars had of late made several predatory inroads upon the Russian territories, and laying waste the districts through which they passed carried off men and cattle on their return. These Tatars being under the protection of the Porte, the empress remonstrated upon the subject, and demanded satisfaction; but the sultan, in his reply, excused himself from interfering in the matter, upon the pretext that it was impossible to keep those roving bands under proper restraint. This evasive reply was precisely what Anna anticipated, and as the sultan declined to render her any atonement, she undertook to obtain retribution for herself. A force was immediately despatched into the country of the Tatars, which they overran, spreading ruin in their path, and destroying the marauders in great numbers. The expedition failed, however, in consequence of the incautious advance of the troops too far into the interior, where, not being prepared with a sufficient stock of provisions, they underwent severe privations, and sustained a loss of ten thousand men.

But this discomfiture did not divert the empress from her grand design; and in the year 1736 Count Munich, at the head of a sufficient force, was sent into the Ukraine, with a free commission to retaliate upon the Tatars. After a victorious course through that region, he passed into the peninsula of the

[1737 A.D.]

Crimea; the Tatars, unequal to contending with him in the open field, flying before him until they reached their lines, extending from the sea of Azov to the Euxine, behind the intrenchments of which they considered themselves secure. The lines were established with a view to protecting the Crimea from any attack on the land side; and, having been built with incredible toil, and being strongly fortified with cannon, the Tatars deemed them impregnable. They did not long, however, withstand the vigorous assault of the Russians, who speedily scaled them, and, driving the tumultuous hordes before them, soon possessed themselves of the greater part of the Crimea. But the same inconveniences were felt on this as on the former expedition. The Tatars on their flight laid the country in ashes, and it was impossible to provide sustenance for the troops without keeping up a constant communication with the Ukraine, where provisions at least were to be had, but which was attended with great difficulty. In this exigency, Count Munich was obliged to return to the Ukraine, to take up his winter quarters.

War with Turkey

While Munich was thus engaged against the Tatars, a much more important movement, in which the real object of the Russian government was directly exhibited, was taking place elsewhere. General Lacy had laid siege to Azov, and reduced it to submission on the 1st of July, in the same year. This bold and decisive step forced the reluctant Divan to take into consideration the means by which the progress of the Russians could be most effectually stayed. The sultan was unwilling to commit himself in a war with Russia, content with the possession of the advantages he had gained by the Treaty of the Pruth; and even now that Russia had regained one of the ceded forts, and was manifestly prepared to follow up the victory, he preferred to attempt the negotiation of peace through the mediation of Austria, for the sake of avoiding hostilities as long as he could. Russia, however, would not agree to any accommodation; and, instead of being moved from her purpose by the representations of Austria, she demanded of that power the fulfilment of the treaty subsisting between them, by which, in case of need, she was bound to furnish thirty thousand auxiliaries. This demand placed the subject in a new light before the German cabinet. The required assistance would obviously have the effect of enabling Russia to extend her conquests without producing any benefits whatever to Austria; whereas, if Austria united herself with Russia in the war, she might derive some advantages from an alliance against which it appeared highly improbable that the Turks could make a successful stand. She decided, therefore, upon throwing the whole weight of her power into the scale, greatly to the consternation of the Turks, who had, in the first instance, solicited her friendly interference. The sultan, however, felt that, doubtful as must be the issue of a contest against such formidable enemies, it would be wiser to risk it than, yielding to intimidation, to make such sacrifices as would be inconsistent with the security and honour of the country. He accordingly lost no time in preparing for the campaign. He recruited the garrisons and forts, raised new levies, put his army into proper condition, and equipped a fleet for the protection of the Euxine; on the other hand, the combined forces rapidly prepared to act in concert.

The operations of the year 1737 were not followed by any important results. The Russian army, strengthened by forty thousand recruits, was separated into two divisions; one of which, under the command of Count Munich, proceeded to Otchakov on the Euxine, while General Lacy, with the

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