We take a trip to Russia today to meet a courtier who became embroiled in a plot to assassinate an emperor.
The noble-born Pahlen came from a long and celebrated lineage and began his military career with action in the Russo-Turkish Wars, where he was decorated for distinguished service. Respected by his men and commanders, Pahlen was on the road to success from an early age.
With his reputation at a high, Pahlen moved into politics and in 1795 was appointed Governor General of Courland Guberniya. The year after his appointment Pahlen was appointed to command the Cuirassier Regiment of Riga, but found himself at odds with Emperor Paul, who questioned his involvement with the now disgraced Prince Platon Zubov. Although Pahlen hung onto office until 1797, Paul finally succeeded in having him discharged from the position as well as his place in the military.
Pahlen's fall from grace was short-lived, however, and he was soon back in the military as Commander of the Household Troops of Horse Regiment, winning back the favour of Paul and rising to the position of military governor of Saint Petersburg, on top of numerous other decorations. However, Paul's favours were fleeting and the capricious monarch and Pahlen enjoyed a fractious relationship. Fearing for the security of his position after a number of sackings and reinstatements, Pahlen joined a conspiracy against the monarch and eventually became one of the ringleaders.
Pahlen was present on the evening of Paul's assassination and incurred the lifelong wrath of his widow, Empress Maria Feodorovna. Although Pahlen's friendship with the new Tsar meant that he survived the ensuing court martial, he had no choice but to go into exile to his country estate, where he remained until his death.