“I was born at this place, I want to die here”: what Paul I predicted 

He went down in history as the “Russian Don Quixote ”, a fan of chivalry, Prussian orders and the policies of his father. Passion, which Paul I could not resist, led him step by step to the tragic end.
Parental love was unfamiliar to Paul I. Nevertheless, he idolized his father, who was completely indifferent to him. Only once did Peter express his fatherly feelings – he attended the lessons of Paul, during which he said loudly to the teachers: “I see that this rogue knows things better than you.” And he conferred on him the rank of guard corporal.
When a coup of 1762 ended in the country, which ended with the death of the emperor, Paul was amazed. His beloved father, whose recognition he so wanted to achieve, was destroyed by the lovers of his mother. In addition, the young man was told that in the event of Peter’s death, the throne passed to him legally. Now, however, Catherine II stood at the head of the country, and she was to become an adviser and regent for the young heir. So she stole the throne from him!
Paul was only seven years old. The murder of his father was a good example for him, which raised suspicion in him. His biographers note that from now on he felt only unaccountable fear for his power-hungry mother. He did not trust his son Alexander later. As it turned out, for good reason.
The life of young Pavel was without friends and parental love. Against the background of his loneliness, he developed a fantasy, he lived in her images. Historians note that in his childhood he was fond of novels about noble and brave knights, read to the holes of Cervantes. The fusion of constant fear for life and knighthood determined the character of Emperor Paul I. He went down in history as the “Russian Hamlet” or the “Russian Don Quixote”.
He had highly developed notions of honor, duty, dignity, and generosity, a sense of justice was exacerbated to the limit. Napoleon called Paul “the Russian Don Quixote”! The medieval knightly consciousness of Paul, which he, like Servantos hidalgo, formed on the chivalric novels, did not correspond to the time in which he lived. Herzen spoke more simply: “Paul I was a disgusting and ridiculous spectacle of crowned Don Quixote.”
Wilhemina Hessen-Darmstadt
In one of the conversations with his teacher, Semyon Poroshin, in a conversation about matrimony, young Paul said: “As I get married, I’ll become very fond of my wife and will be jealous. I really don’t want to have a horn. ”
Paul really adored his first wife, but he could not be avoided. The wife of Paul became Princess Vilgemina of Hesse-Darmstadt, after baptism – Natalia Alekseevna. Vilgemina and her relatives pulled out a lucky ticket – their family belonged to impoverished aristocrats, their daughters did not even have a dowry.
Pavel himself fell in love with Vilgemina at first sight. In his diary, he wrote: “My choice has almost stopped at Princess Wilhelmina, who I like the most, and all night I saw her in a dream.” Catherine was pleased with the decision of the son. If they knew how it would end.
Natalia Alekseevna was a beautiful and effective kind. The unsociable and secluded Paul came to life next to her. He married for love, which could not be said about Natalia, who simply had no choice. Pavel was ugly – his nose was a button, his features were wrong, his height was short. Pavel’s contemporary Alexander Turgenev wrote: “It is impossible to describe or depict Paul’s ugliness!”
In terms of her position, Natalya Alekseevna soon found herself a favorite – the ladies’ pleaser Count Andrei Razumovsky , who accompanied her from Darmstadt unmarried. Preserved their love correspondence. After the unexpected death of Natalia as a result of childbirth, Catherine II showed Paul evidence of his wife’s treason. After reading the letters, Pavel, who so sincerely loved his spouse, learned that Natalya preferred Razumovsky to him “until the last day of her life, she never ceased sending gentle notes and flowers to her friend.” At the funeral of his wife, Paul did not come.
Contemporaries noted that it was from this moment that Paul “came to that state of mental disorder that had accompanied him all his life.” From a gentle and sympathetic young man, he turned into a psychopath with an extremely unbalanced character.
Exercise Master
His favorite occupation of Paul, which he inherited from his father, was military affairs, especially emphasize his irrepressible passion for performing a master’s work — the minutiae of military service. Following the fate of Peter III, Paul determined his sad fate with his passion. In the war, the young cesarevitch loved the aesthetic side – beautiful slimness of form, impeccable performance of parades and military parades. He organized such “men’s shows” daily.
The officers were severely charged with, if their soldiers, while passing before the sovereign, were poorly kept in line, they were marched “out of step”. Training in military science turned into training for the sake of ceremonial. Following his mania, Pavel completely changed the uniform of the soldiers, in many ways copied from the Prussian costume: short pantaloons, stockings and shoes, braids, powder.
Suvorov, who preferred to live in the village, rather than climb into the Prussian uniform, wrote: “There is no lousy Prussians: you will not pass in a siltgaz and near a box without any contagion, and wearing their head dress with your stench will give you a swoon. We were clean from filth, and she is the first dokuk now a soldier. Shtiblety – pus legs.
Prussian order
Prussian orders exactly answered Paul’s punctuality. One of the researchers of the time wrote: “In Prussia, everything went as if by magic: with mathematical precision, the king from his Sans Souci commanded the state and the army, and all secondary performers were nothing more than facial representatives.” Like Peter III, Paul became an ardent admirer of Frederick II, and considered the Russian order abnormal, and all “because of the woman on the throne”: “we conducted our affairs in a peculiar way, not only not following the general flow of imitation of the Prussians, but even with disdain looked at the monkeyhood of all of Europe. ”
The main internal political failure of Paul was the desire for complete centralization in the management of troops, which violated the long tradition of the Russian army and negatively showed itself during the hostilities. The system of centralized subordination in the Gatchina troops did not work for the whole country. Destruction of duty, which was the headquarters of the senior bosses, offices, all these innovations were dictated by the desire of the suspicious Paul not to give anyone any rights. They violated the connection of commanders of all levels with the troops, interfered with the work of the headquarters and in the end result led to a complete disruption of command and control even in normal peacetime.
The Gatchina Palace, which Paul presented to his mother, in his attempts to alienate the legitimate thirty-year-old heir from the court, became the real delight of Paul I. Ironically, or according to Catherine, the former palace of Count Orlov, which is ordered to kill Peter III and even fatherhood heir.
The cesarevitch created his own state there, based on his fantasies about chivalry, mixed with a love of Prussian orders. Today, according to Gatchina, its architecture, decoration, you can reconstruct the character of Paul I – it was completely his brainchild, his Versailles, which he prepared as his future imperial residence.
Here he created the Gatchina troops as a silent protest against the military system during the reign of Catherine. Pavel’s “funny units” consisted mainly of Prussians, the Russians went there reluctantly — low salaries, an uncomfortable uniform, lengthy and weary exercises, and heavy guard service contributed to the fact that in Gatchina only the impoverished nobility served.
Gatchina was a special closed world, a counterweight to Petersburg, where the heir was despised and considered a holy fool. When Pavlovsky court was closed, new state transformations of the Russian empire were born, which were begun by Paul I, and continued by his son Alexander.
Mikhailovsky Castle
In November 1796, Paul’s dream finally came true, after the death of his mother, he received the crown, despite all attempts by Catherine to remove her son from the throne.
Pavel decided to bring his old plan to life – to build his own residence in St. Petersburg, on the spot where he had once been born, in the Summer Palace of Elizaveta Petrovna, which was subsequently destroyed. In a conversation with the camera-maid of honor, Protasova, Paul said: “I was born here, I want to die here.”
In Mikhailovsky Castle reflected all Paul’s fascination with medieval knighthood. The name itself – the castle, not the palace, and the dedication of the new residence to the archangel Michael, the leader of the heavenly host – all this was a reference to the knightly culture.
Modern architects see the symbolism of the Maltese order in the castle – it is not surprising, because in 1798 Paul became a Great Grandmaster, and many of his officers were Maltese cavaliers. Mikhailovsky Castle is similar to the famous Neusschwanstein Ludwig of Bavaria , who was so fascinated by the medieval fairy tale that he built himself a real palace of legends in the Alps, in which he, like Paul in Mikhailovsky, became a victim of a political upheaval.

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