Sons of Catherine 2. The illegitimate son of Catherine 2

Catherine II, probably, is one of the most extraordinary personalities in the entire history of the Russian state. About her favorites, lovers and personal life, legends still go. In this article we will try to understand who is the official son of Catherine 2, and who is an illegitimate child.

Moreover, after the death of the Empress, they maintained contact. Who are these people? Read on, and you'll find out.

Personal life of the Empress

In view of the fact that the Empress of All-Russia was attractive enough and a loving woman, we can assume that she had enough "skeletons" in the closet.

It is believed that the only official son of Catherine 2 - Paul. Who is the father of a child born out of wedlock, we will talk later when we talk about Alexei Bobrinsky.

So, Sofia Anhalt-Zerbskaya, later taking the Orthodox name of Catherine, was the fate of fate in Russia. The mother of the future Emperor Peter III, Elizaveta Petrovna, chose the bride for her son and as a result settled on the candidacy of this Prussian princess.

Upon her arrival in the new country, the girl seriously began to study a new culture for herself. She perfectly mastered the Russian language, passes into the Orthodox faith. Everything would be fine, but the future emperor did not have the slightest sympathy for Catherine. He perceived it simply as a forced appendage, constantly fostering mistresses.

Because of this "family happiness," the princess began to be fond of hunting, masquerading, correspondence with European philosophers and encyclopaedists. Over time, she also has personal favorites.

Of special interest is the official son of Catherine 2. For several years the Empress could not conceive from her husband. And suddenly a boy is born. More details about this situation, we'll talk further.

Because of unsuccessful marriage, and after a successful palace coup, the Empress was able to fully realize her commitment to "free love." Judging by the data given by one of her best biographers, Bartenev, Catherine II had twenty-three lover during her lifetime.

Among them are statesmen like Potemkin and Orlov, Saltykov and Vasilchikov, Lanskoy and Zorich. It is noteworthy that only Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin became almost unofficial her husband. Although it was not publicized, but they had a secret wedding, and until the end of her life, Catherine called in correspondence and diaries his spouse, and himself his wife. They had a daughter, Elizaveta Grigorievna Temkina.

Thus, the Empress had a very stormy and rich personal life. The most powerful in the state significance were only two of her lover - Orlov and Potemkin. All the subsequent, as a rule, before becoming the favorites of Catherine, remained in the post of adjutants from Grigory Alexandrovich.

The Empress had several children, but she gave birth to only two sons. It is about them that will be discussed later.

Official son

On the throne the Empress was replaced by the only official son of Catherine II and Peter III. His name was Pavel I Petrovich.

He was a very welcome grandson for his grandmother, Elizabeth Petrovna. The complexity of the situation at the court was that after the marriage of the heir to the throne had passed ten years. Rumors began to circulate that Peter III was not able to conceive a descendant, and the dynasty could break.

Elizabeth solved the problem by her interference. To the court was called the best surgeon of Petersburg, who performed an operation to eliminate phimosis. As a result, in the tenth year of official marriage, Catherine II gave birth to a son. But for a long time there were rumors that the father of the heir to the throne was not the emperor, but the favorite of the princess was Sergei Saltykov.

However, biographers of the royal dynasty insist that it was Peter III who was the actual parent of Pavel Petrovich. This version in our time decided to confirm the researchers. One of the proofs was his appearance. After all, the son of Catherine 2, Paul (photo of whose portrait is given in the article) was an exact copy of Emperor Peter III.

The second evidence was the Y-haploid genotype, characteristic of all descendants of Nicholas I. This is the specific arrangement of the forms of one gene (alleles) in a specific place (locus) of the cytological map of the chromosome.

Thus, today the direct belonging of the future emperor to the genus of the Romanovs is proved. However, what happened in the following years with Pavel Petrovich?

Childhood. Education

Immediately after birth, the son of Catherine II and Peter 3 was excommunicated. His grandmother, Elizaveta Petrovna, in the light of the ongoing political confrontation, was seriously concerned about the fate of the heir to the throne.

Mother first saw her son only after forty days. Despite the fact that the birth of a direct heir to the dynasty guarded the country from subsequent political cataclysms, they nevertheless occurred. But while Paul the First was small, the grandmother took care of his upbringing.

Neither Catherine nor Peter in the life of the future emperor played any significant role. Immediately after birth, the baby was surrounded by a specially selected suite, which included nannies, tutors, tutors and the best teachers. Elizabeth Petrovna personally dealt with the servants' allegations.

The main person responsible for the education of the boy was the prominent diplomat Bekhteev. This man was obsessed with questions of drill and clearly established norms of conduct. One of the features of the educational process was the publication of a newspaper in which it was told about all the pranks of the future emperor.

Subsequently Bekhteev was replaced by Panin. The new teacher took very seriously for the training program. Being close to prominent European masons, Nikita Ivanovich had extensive acquaintances. Therefore among the educators of Paul the First were Metropolitan Platon, Poroshin, Grange and Milliko.

It is noteworthy that any acquaintance and games with peers were limited. The emphasis was exclusively on education in the spirit of enlightenment. Tsesarevich received the best education of his time, but separation from parents and peers led to irreversible consequences.

The son of Catherine II Pavel Petrovich grew up psychologically traumatized. Subsequently, this will result in his eccentricities and obscene antics. One of which will lead to a conspiracy against the emperor and his murder during the palace coup.

Relationship with mother

Never the official son of Catherine 2 Pavel Petrovich was not loved by his mother. The Empress from the first days of his thought a child from an unloved person, which was for her Peter III.

It was rumored that after the birth of her son, she wrote a will that after she reached adulthood, she would give him the government of the country. But no one has ever seen this document. The inconceivability of this fact is confirmed by the subsequent actions of the empress.

Every year, the son of Catherine 2 Paul increasingly distanced himself from the mother of state affairs. He was selected by the best teachers, indulged in interest in various sciences. The first military council, to which the Empress invited him, took place in 1783, that is, when Pavel Petrovich was twenty-nine years old.

At this meeting, the final gap between them was indicated.

Prior to this, Empress Catherine II pandered to the spread rumors of his birth from Saltykov. She also supported opinions about the unbalance and cruelty of the Crown Prince.

Today it is difficult to judge, but ordinary people, dissatisfied with the policy of the Empress, were on the side of Pavel Petrovich. So, Emelyan Pugachev promised after the coup d'etat to give him power. The name of the prince sounded during a plague riot in Moscow. The rebellious exiles led by Benevsky also swore allegiance to the young emperor.

In the last years of her life, Catherine II waited for the official wedding of Pavel's eldest son. In this case, she could transfer power to her grandson bypassing an unloved child. But after her death, Bezborodko's secretary destroyed the manifesto, than saved the cesarevitch from arrest and promoted his ascension to the throne. For this he subsequently received the highest state rank of the Chancellor.

Life in Gatchina

The official son of Catherine 2 Pavel Petrovich, after several years of traveling through Western Europe, settled in the estate of the late Count Grigory Orlov. Before that, the Tsarevich had twice married.

His first wife was Wilhelmina Hesse-Darmstadt (then the Emperor Paul was nineteen years old). But two and a half years later she died during childbirth and he was picked up by a new bride.

She turned out to be Sophia Dorothea of Württemberg, the daughter of the Duke of Württemberg. The candidature for the emperor was chosen personally by the King of Prussia, Friedrich II. It is noteworthy that she comes from the same estate as Catherine II, the mother of Pavel Petrovich.

Thus, after one and a half years of traveling, a couple of newlyweds settled in Gatchina, the former estate of Count Orlov. It is interesting that, judging by the information from the state papers and economic documents of the estate, the czarevich and his wife were constantly robbed by servants and relatives. With the huge salary for those two hundred and fifty thousand rubles per annum, the son of Catherine II Paul 1 constantly needed loans.

It is in Gatchina that the future emperor starts a "toy" army. It was a military formation, similar to the Funeral shelves of Peter the Great. Although contemporaries expressed themselves strongly negative against such a fascination of the prince, but the researchers of our time have exactly the opposite opinion.

Based on the data on the exercises, the regiments did not just march and held parades. It was a small but perfectly trained army for that time. For example, they were taught to reflect the sea assault, they knew how to fight day and night. These and many other tactics were constantly practiced with them by the son of Catherine.

Extramarital son

However, there was also the illegitimate son of Catherine 2. His name was Alexei Grigorievich. Subsequently, the boy was given the name Bobrinsky, in honor of the Bobriki estate (now the city of Bogoroditsk in the Tula region).

The son of Catherine II and Orlov, according to the testimony of contemporaries, was a very timid and quiet boy. There were rumors about "the proximity of his mind" at court, since at the age of thirteen his knowledge was limited to French and German, as well as to the beginnings of arithmetic and geography.

An interesting case is connected with the birth of Alexei Bobrinsky. In December 1761, the Empress Elizabeth died, and her son Peter III ascended the throne. The event leads to the final rupture between Catherine and her husband. The girl is sent to live in the opposite wing of the Winter Palace.

It is noteworthy, but her similar incident was not at all upsetting. At this time she had a favorite, Grigory Orlov. Four months later, in April 1762, the time had come to give birth to a son from this lover. It was absolutely impossible to attribute paternity to Peter III.

Therefore, an original turn of events was undertaken. Valet's empress, Vasily Shkurin, sets fire to his house. Since the emperor adored admiring fires, he, along with his retinue, left the palace to enjoy the spectacle. At this time, Catherine II gave birth to a son from Grigory Orlov.

Before the coup, it was stupid and dangerous to declare its existence, so the boy was immediately given up for education to a loyal valet, who was built a more attractive mansion on the place of the burnt.


Thus, the son of Catherine II and Grigory Orlov was brought up with the children of wardrobe-master Vasily Shkurin, later he would be awarded the rank of valet. Until the age of twelve Alexey lived and studied with his sons. In 1770 they travel together for four years to Leipzig. There specifically for these boys a boarding school was created.

In 1772, Alexei Bobrinsky was placed under the supervision of Marshal of the Neapolitan army Joseph de Ribas for two years. Subsequently, the time spent with the illegitimate son of the empress, will be reckoned by the Spaniard, and he will be promoted to prominent posts in Russia. For example, it was Deribas (so in the Russian manner he began to write his name) played a major role in the creation of the port of Odessa. And in honor of it the most famous street in this city is named.

At the age of thirteen, Alexei Bobrinsky returned to the Russian Empire and was placed at the disposal of Betsky. At the same time, the boy complains about the property in Bobriki for material support.

According to the trustee and teacher, the son of Catherine 2 Alexey did not shine with knowledge and the pursuit of science. He just wanted to please his mother. The boy was quiet, calm and complaisant.

Ivan Ivanovich Betskoi, being a prominent figure in the sphere of education in St. Petersburg, influenced not only the training of Alexei Bobrinsky, but also the promotion of Joseph de Ribas.

At the age of twenty, the young man completes his studies in the corps. As a reward, he receives a gold medal and is promoted to the rank of lieutenant.


After such a course of study, the son of Catherine II and Grigory Orlov was dismissed and sent on a tour of Western Europe. It must be said that here we see a sample of how the Empress loved this young man and cared about him.

Alexei Grigorievich Bobrinsky with the best graduates of the corps goes on a journey under the supervision of a scientist and a military man. In Russia they were accompanied by naturalist Nikolai Ozeretskovsky, encyclopedist, member of the Russian and Petersburg Academy of Sciences. The children visited Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, Yaroslavl, Simbirsk, Ufa, Astrakhan, Taganrog, Kherson and Kiev.

Further, in Warsaw, Colonel Alexei Bushuyev was assigned to them, who continued his voyage along Western Europe with the graduates. Here were visited Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The program is over halfway, in Paris.

The reason was that the son of Catherine II and Count Orlov was carried away by gambling and girls. There is nothing supernatural in this for his age, but the quarrel was due to the fact that all his fellow travelers lived on the money sent to him from the Empress (three thousand rubles). And the finance was not enough for one Alexei Bobrinsky.

In view of this situation, graduates were sent from France to their homes, and the Empress's son was allowed to live in Europe. Here he was mired in debt and was carried away by his wild life.

As a result, Catherine the Great ordered to deliver him to Russia. Count Vorontsov with little difficulty still managed to complete the assignment, and Alexei Bobrinsky was resettled in Reval. This place became for him the likeness of "house arrest". During his travels through Europe he was promoted to the rank of second captain (modern senior lieutenant).

Relations with Catherine II

Immediately after the birth of Catherine's son, 2 Bobrinsky enjoyed the location of his mother. He received a fairly good education. As far as possible, the Empress supported and helped in everything. But due to the lack of a young man's grasp and desire for service, he was looked after, like a porcelain figurine.

The turning point was the breakdown of Alexei Bobrinsky during his trip to Western Europe. He was expelled regularly interest in the form of three thousand rubles (from the fund, which for him founded the empress). Also, after reporting to Russia about card debts, another seventy-five thousand were transferred.

But it did not help. The young man again descended to the bottom. At the request of Catherine the Great for him for a while, Friedrich Grimm, a French publicist and diplomat, was looking after. After he refused this work because of disobeying the young man, the son of Catherine II and Count Orlov was sent to Russia.

The Empress took this step, since the behavior of the boy strongly spoiled her reputation.

Apparently, finding himself in Revel with the ban to leave the city, Alexei Bobrinsky understood the depth of his misconduct. This is evident from the constant requests for pardon and permission to move to the capital. The result was only his dismissal from the military in the rank of foreman.

At thirty-two, the Empress allowed her son to buy a castle in Livonia, where two years later he married Baroness Urgen-Sternberg. Because of the wedding, Alexei Bobrinsky was allowed to arrive in the capital for a few days, so that Catherine II would look at the bride.

After that, he went to his castle Ober-Palen, where he lived until the death of his mother.

Relations with Paul I

Strangely enough, but Alexei Bobrinsky, the son of Catherine II, received full support and concern from Emperor Paul I. His stepbrother freed him from house arrest, and eventually raised to the rank of Major-General. He also awarded his brother the Order of St. Anne and gave the command.

However, suddenly the illegitimate son of Catherine II falls into disgrace. At thirty-six, he is secondarily dismissed from service, deprived of rank and settled in the estate of Bobriki.

Alexei Grigorievich is allowed to visit the capital and the castle in Livland, but any state or military affairs are prohibited.

Until his death, Alexei Bobrinsky, son of Catherine II, was engaged in astronomy, mineralogy and agriculture. He was buried in the crypt of the estate in the Tula province.

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