‘Such an Evil Road I Have Never Seen’: Tsarina Ekaterina Alekseevna’s Trip Through Germany at the End of 1716

Alexey Morokhin

Abstract


This article considers the trip of Peter I’s spouse Tsarina Ekaterina Alekseevna around Germany at the end of 1716. The tsarina’s journey and its consequences had a considerable impact on the foreign policy undertaken by Peter I in the final stage of the Great Northern War and played a significant role in the deterioration of relations between Russia and its allies in the anti-Swedish coalition. However, the trip has not been studied by historians, except for A. G. Brückner. The sources of this work include published materials, such as documentary evidence of foreign contemporaries, Peter I’s letters to Ekaterina Alekseevna, and unpublished documents kept in the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts. These materials help reconstruct the events connected with the trip of Ekaterina Alekseevna to the domain of the Elector of Hanover George I, who had been king of Great Britain since 1714. Peter I’s trip to Holland through the territory in question preceded the tsarina’s trip through Hanover in December 1716. During the trip there arose serious disagreements between Peter I and the Hanoverian Elector. Despite the disagreements between the allies, the authorities of Hanover welcomed Peter the Great. Unlike the tsar’s trip, the one taken by his pregnant spouse was evidently lacking in preparation and was accompanied by many troubles. Having reached the Prussian town of Wesel on 2 January 1717, the tsarina gave birth to a son, Pavel, who died on the same day. Peter I blamed the tsarevich’s death on the subjects of the Elector of Hanover, who did not consider themselves guilty but still investigated the situation. At the official level, the diplomats of George I rejected the tsar’s claims. The author concludes that the consequences of Ekaterina Alekseevna’s trip had important foreign policy consequences and contributed to the deterioration of relations between Russia and its allies at the end of the war against Sweden.


Keywords


18th-century Russian history; Peter I; Catherine I; George I; diplomatic relations.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.2.228

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