As the long reign of Catherine the Great wound down, she made moves to ensure the succession of her grandson, Alexander, but those were still incomplete by the time she died. Instead, it was her estranged son Paul who became emperor, and while his reign was not long, it was spiteful and much reviled by both the public and the elites. In just four and a half years, Paul I passed nearly 8,000 laws engineered to roll back the achievements and advances made by his mother, who he blamed for his father’s death, and plunge Russia backward.
It was only four and a half years before a conspiracy of nobles attempted to depose Paul by forcing him to sign papers of abdication. When he resisted, they beat him to death, leaving the throne to his son Alexander, who had known of the plot for a bloodless coup, and never forgave himself for not interceding in a plot that, in fact, led to his father’s murder. We’ll be back next week with the mystery of Emperor Alexander I.