Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia

Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia

Infobox Person
name =Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia

image_size =250px
caption =Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, painting by Josef Grassie, 1802. Pavlovsk Palace
birth_date =24 December 1784
birth_place =St. Petersburg, Russia
death_date =24 September 1803
death_place =
spouse =Hereditary Prince Friedrich Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
children =
parents =Tsar Paul I of Russia (father)
Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg (mother)

Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia ( _ru. Великая Княжна Елена Павловна; 24 December 1784 – 24 September 1803) was a daughter of Grand Duke, later Tsar Paul I of Russia and his second wife Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. After marrying the son and heir of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin she became spouse to the heir and thus dropped her Russian title.

Early years

Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna was born in Saint Petersburg, capital city of the Russian Empire. The arrival of a second daughter was happy news to her father, Tsarevich Paul Petrovich, who had lost his first wife Wilhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt in childbirth, eight years before. She was also said to be very beautiful so her grandmother, the Empress Catherine, named her after Helen of Troy.

Elena was a younger sister of Alexander I of Russia, Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich of Russia and Alexandra Pavlovna of Russia. She was also an older sister of Maria Pavlovna of Russia, Ekaterina Pavlovna of Russia, Olga Pavlovna of Russia, Anna Pavlovna of Russia, Nicholas I of Russia and Mikhail Pavlovich of Russia.As a girl, Elena was educated privately at home, her first years' education being supervised by her paternal grandmother, the formidable Catherine II of Russia. As any other royal of her time, the Grand Duchess' education was focused mainly on art, literature and music. Her real purpose in life, eventually, would be to marry well and provide her husband-to-be with children. Out of all her siblings, Elena Pavlovna was closest to her older sister Alexandra, whose life was shaped practically the same as was Elena's.

Engagement and marriage

If royal males have gone down in history for their political and military decisions, women have played decisive roles in uniting through blood and marriage all European royal families. Elena's mother, Sophie Marie Dorothea of Württemberg (by now known as Maria Fyodorovna following her baptism in the Orthodox faith), turned out to be an excellent matchmaker. Although one of her daughters died as an infant, the rest married members of Europe's most important and prestigious royal houses.

In the late 1790s Elena was betrothed to Hereditary Prince Friedrich Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1778–1819). He was the eldest son of Friedrich Franz I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Luise, Duchess of Saxe-Gotha. At the same time her sister Alexandra, who was very like her in many ways, was engaged to Palatine Joseph of Hungary (1776–1847).

It was customary for European princesses to travel to their husband's homelands to wed; Russian Grand Duchesses were always the exception, as they were all married at home following tradition. On 23 October 1799 Elena Pavlovna and Friedrich Ludwig were married at the palace of Gatchina. (Her sister Alexandra followed her example and married her fiancé in the same place one week later).

Life in Schwerin and death

Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna (now Princess Elena) moved to Schwerin with her husband. There she was introduced to a whole new court, quite different from the oppulence of the splendours of Saint Petersburg. She was quite content with her married life and soon after the wedding she was with child. In September 1800 she gave birth to a son, Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin from 1837 till 1842, who was named so after his grandfathers, the Tsar of Russia and the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The year 1801 had been especially hard for Elena, for she lost two close members of her family in just a few days. On 16 March her sister Alexandra died in Buda after giving birth to a daughter Alexandrine, who died too a few days before. Just eight days later her father, the tsar, was assassinated following a coup probably led by his own son and heir, Alexander I of Russia. The following year Elena became pregnant again and in March 1803 produced a daughter whom they named Maria after her maternal grandmother the Dowager Tsarina.

In September 1803, Elena Pavlovna fell gravely ill and died suddenly on 24 September. She was buried with great sorrow in the Helena Paulovna Mausoleum in Ludwigslust which was named in her memory. Several members of the Mecklenburg-Schwerin dynasty, including her husband's second wife, are buried there.


Elena and Friedrich Ludwig had two children

* Paul Friedrich, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (15 September 1800 - 7 March 1842)
* Marie Luise (31 March 1803 - 26 October 1862); married Georg, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg


However, Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna's role in genealogical history is not to be slighted. Her great-granddaughter, Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg, married Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich of Russia in 1884; another great-granddaughter, Princess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (known as Miechen) married Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia; her brother Franz Friedrich married Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna, daughter of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaievich of Russia. His daughter, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was Crown Princess of Germany through marriage, and her younger sister Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin became Queen consort of Christian X of Denmark.

Elena's widower, Friedrich Ludwig, remarried in 1810 and again became a widower in 1816. In 1818 he married a Princess of Hesse but he died the following year. He never became Grand Duke because his father outlived him, and he was succeeded by Elena Pavlovna's son, Paul Friedrich, in 1837.


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1= 1. Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia
2= 2. Paul I of Russia
3= 3. Sophie Dorothea of Württemburg
4= 4. Peter III of Russia
5= 5. Catherine II of Russia
6= 6. Friedrich II Eugen, Duke of Württemberg
7= 7. Friederike Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt
8= 8. Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
9= 9. Anna Petrovna of Russia
10= 10. Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
11= 11. Johanna Elisabeth, Princess of Holstein-Gottorp
12= 12. Karl Alexander, Duke of Württemberg
13= 13. Maria Augusta Anna of Thurn and Taxis
14= 14. Friedrich Wilhelm, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt
15= 15. Sophie Dorothea Marie, Princess of Prussia
16= 16. Frederick IV, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
17= 17. Hedwig Sophia of Sweden
18= 18. Peter I of Russia
19= 19. Catherine I of Russia
20= 20. Johann Ludwig of Anhalt-Zerbst
21= 21. Christine Eleonore von Zeustch
22= 22. Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin
23= 23. Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach
24= 24. Frederick Charles of Württemberg-Winnental
25= 25. Eleonore Juliane von Brandenburg-Ansbach
26= 26. Anselm Franz of Thurn and Taxis
27= 27. Princess Maria Ludovika von Lobkowicz
28= 28. Philipp, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt
29= 29. Johanna Charlotte of Anhalt-Dessau
30= 30. Frederick William I of Prussia
31= 31. Sophia Dorothea of Hanover

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