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Death of Peter III of Russia

This research examines documentary evidence dealing with the death of Peter III of Russia. The research will set forth a variety of documents that give an account of Peter's death and then discuss the credibility of conflicting accounts with a view toward identifying the most plausible scenario for explaining how and at whose hand(s) Peter met his end.

Documents available for reviewing the facts of the Peter III murder mystery include a fragment of the memoirs of Princess Dashkov, who appears to have been a confidante of Catherine and whose sister was the mistress of Catherine's husband Peter III; first-person accounts of Peter's death provided by both partisans and opponents of Peter and Catherine, as well as Catherine's own account in a letter of events surrounding her accession to the throne and the death of Peter; an account of the events by the French charge d'affaires at the time of the power transition; an excerpt from Catherine's memoirs regarding the death, a well as transcripts of Catherine's letters to a Polish count written around the time of the coup d'├ętat that displaced Peter and installed Catherine; and letters from Peter to Catherine at the time of the coup.

What must be understood about all of the documents available for this research is that they all reflect to some degree the self-interest of the person giving information about the Russian succession crisis of 1762. If any single assumption about the death of Peter III can be made, it is that self-interest forms the subtext, or motivation, for presenting divergent accounts of events surrounding that death. In the case of Dashkov, the narrator of events surrounding the coup places herself at the center and hub. In that regard, Catherine comments that Dashkov, "though she would like to attribute to herself all the honour [of the affair {of the conspiracy}], being acquainted with some of the chiefs, was looked upon askance . . . and being but 19 had no authority...

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Death of Peter III of Russia. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:32, March 31, 2020, from