|A monument to Emperor Paul in front of
The only son of Peter III and Catherine II, he was born in 1754. As
his relations with mother were strained, he preferred to spend his time
the Gatchina castle (where you may see another monument to him). Having
inherited the throne in 1796, he reigned for less than 5 years.
As the story goes, Paul started his reign by changing everything that
reminded of his mother. Fiercely opposed to the French Revolution, he
banned from the court French books and fashions. The use of some foreign
words was forbidden as well.
His true idol was Friedrich the Great. Paul strove to reshape Russian
army in the Prussian fashion, introducing strict discipline and
ridiculous wigs for soldiers. These reforms fed discontent among
aristocratic officers and ordinary soldiers alike.
Paul stripped nobles of some privileges, and cancelled sunday corvee
works for peasants. Some of these decrees were impossible to enforce.
The general discontent for Paul's policies led to his assassination
on 11 March 1801 in the Castle of St Michael, St Petersburg. The
conspiracy was headed by military governor Count von der Pahlen, though
it seems like Tsesarevich Alexander was involved as well.