|Peter II by Iogann Genrikh Vedekind, 1730|
Yesterday we were present at the death of an elderly king, weakened by infirmity and insanity until he finally passed away at the ripe old age of 81. Today our salon guest is another monarch in his final hours but this time, he is considerably younger. Emperor Peter II of Russia had ruled his country since the age of 12 yet his reign was to be a short one, and the young man was dead before he reached 15.
As 1729 drew to a freezing close, Peter was already in poor health and suffering from a severe ad debilitating cold. With his sense of duty outweighing all else he continued to honour his formal engagements and as the new year dawned, attended a traditional Epiphany Day feast on the River Moscow. On this bitterly cold January day the Emperor's condition deteriorated and as he slipped into a delirium, he was rushed back to Lefortovo Palace and the royal physicians were summoned.
After an examination the doctors gravely declared that the young ruler was infected with smallpox and that time was short, with no hope of recovery. Barely coherent, Peter's final words were “Harness my sledge! I want to go and see my sister!". That same sister had passed away just two years earlier at the age of 14.
Merely minutes later, Peter II died at the break of dawn on what should have been the day of his wedding to Ekaterina Dolgorukova. He was buried in the Archangel Cathedral,his death marking the end of the direct male line of the Romanov dynasty.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.