29 May 1727

Peter II becomes the Tsar of Russia.

Peter II, Russian in full Pyotr Alekseyevich, emperor of Russia from 1727 to 1730. Grandson of Peter I the Great, Peter II was named heir to the Russian throne by Catherine I and was crowned at the age of 11. Because Catherine had named the Supreme Privy Council to act as regent for the youth, Aleksandr D. Menshikov, who had been a close adviser to both Peter I and Catherine I and had become the most prominent member of the council, dominated the first months of Peter’s reign. Menshikov installed the young emperor in his own household and arranged for his daughter and Peter to become betrothed. Peter, however, did not welcome the domineering kindness of his guardian and turned to the Dolgorukys, an old aristocratic family. In September 1727 the Dolgoruky family arrested Menshikov, exiled him to Siberia, and replaced him as the dominant political figures in Russia. They subsequently moved Peter’s capital from St. Petersburg to Moscow and prepared for Peter’s marriage to Princess Yekaterina Alekseyevna Dolgorukaya. On the day set for the wedding, however, Peter II died of smallpox.

This jostling and conniving began under the reign of Catherine I, who meant to marry him off to Maria, the daughter of Prince Menshikov, that comrade of Peter the Great who had become an all-powerful “advisor” during Catherine’s six-year reign. Shortly after Catherine’s death in 1727, the twelve-year-old Emperor was indeed betrothed to the sixteen-year-old Maria Menshikov. The influential Menshikov, for all practical purposes the ruler of the country and head of the Supreme Privy Council, did everything in his power to protect and promote the young Emperor. He even began building a palace for him not far from his own, which was the largest palace in the capital at that time. However, Menshikov fell seriously ill and was unable to attend court, so the Emperor rapidly fell under the influence of his teacher, the Vice Chancellor Osterman and the new favorite, Ivan Dolgorukov. In the blink of an eye, the Menshikov estates were confiscated, he himself was forced to resign and, together with his entire family, he was exiled to the city of Berezov in Siberia.