|Anna of Russia by Louis Caravaque, 1730|
Thomas Carlyle compared her large cheeks to a “Westphalian ham” but, sadly, this painting doesn't appear to do them justice!
Today we find ourselves back in Russia to share the final days of another famed and, in this case, feared Empress. Just as we peeked in at the death of Catherine the Great, now we are afforded a glimpse into the death of Anna of Russia, an autocratic and strong-minded ruler.
After an iron-gripped decade as the Empress and Autocrat of all the Russias, it was becoming increasingly clear to Anna that her health was in somewhat speedy decline. With one eye on the future she appointed Regent from her circle of favourites and selected her infant grandnephew as a successor, determined that the descendants of Peter the Great would never again sit on the Russian throne.
For many years Anna had suffered from debilitating gout and as the years passed, so too did the symptoms of her ailment grow worse and worse until her mobility began to suffer. Not only this, but she was beset by initially unexplained pains in her torso that were later diagnosed as an ulcer on one kidney and this was the start of the kidney trouble that would eventually kill her.
As 1740 wore on, the pain grew more pronounced as Anna was beset with kidney stones and she was forced to retire to her bed. Here she remained in increasing pain until she died as a result of kidney failure at the age of 47, leaving her carefully-laid plans for the succession to fall into failure.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)