Nationalized Women

In every revolution, one finds individuals who take advantage of the chaos for their benefit.  As the Bolsheviks came into power in Russia, some used the new creed of Marxism-Leninism for their own gain, before Moscow put a stop to it.  In Suizran, north of the Caspian Sea, it was proclaimed that all the women should be nationalized.

Whereas before, the bourgeoisie hoarded the most beautiful women for themselves, leaving the workers and peasants with second best, from then on, all women would be shared communally.

When Lenin and Moscow found out, their disapproval was quickly made known.  The order was rescinded, and even possessing a copy of it was made a crime.

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The Miracle of the House of Hohenzollern

By the end of 1761, Prussia was losing the Seven Years’ War.  Its coffers and manpower were spent.  During the war, Prussia had lost 120 generals, 1500 officers, and over 100,000 men.  All seemed lost.

Frederick himself said,

The Austrians are masters of Schweidnitz and the mountains, the Russians are behind the length of the Warthe from Kolberg to Posen…my every bale of hay, sack of money or batch of recruits only arriving by courtesy of the enemy or from his negligence. Austrians controlling the hills in Saxony, the Imperials the same in Thuringia, all our fortresses vulnerable in Silesia, in Pomerania, Stettin, Kustrin, even Berlin, at the mercy of the Russians.

In January 1762, though, a miracle occurred.  Elizabeth, Tsarina of Russia, died.  She had been one of Frederick’s most implacable foes, second only to Maria Theresa.

Not only that, but she was succeeded by her nephew, Peter III, a man of whom it may be fairly said that he worshipped Frederick.  Peter detested the Russians and lionized Prussians, even going so far as to wear the uniform of a Prussian soldier, even as tsar.  Peter III immediately made peace with Prussia and concluded an alliance with Frederick.  With the abandonment of Russia, the other nations against Frederick no longer had the motivation nor the ability to conclusively finish the war, and by 1763, the Seven Years’ War was over, with Prussia having miraculously survived.

The Rise of Catherine I of Russia

Peter the Great was Tzar of Russia, and ruler of an enormous and powerful empire.  After an unsuccessful first marriage, he had had his first wife forced into a convent in order to rid himself of her.  Even then, it was almost impossible to imagine royalty marrying a commoner, yet that is exactly what Peter did with his second wife.

It is said that he came across the future Catherine I, Marta Elena Skavronska, while visiting the household of Prince Alexander Menshikov, where she labored.  He fell in love with this peasant woman, and raised her to royalty.  They secretly married in 1707, and it was her children who continued the royal line of Russia.  In 1724, a year before Peter’s death, he even named her co-ruler of the Russian Empire, making her the first female ruler of Russia.

Yermak’s Prayers

In the late 1500s, the Stroganovs, a wealthy and powerful Russian family, began sponsoring forays into Siberia, hoping to profit from the mineral and natural wealth of the land.  One of these expeditions was led by the Cossack Vasily “Yermak” Timofeyovich, whose cognomen came from the word for millstone.  Yermak and his band received material support from the Stroganovs, who insisted that the assistance was not a gift, but a loan, and wished to specify the terms of its repayment.

The Stroganovs at first wished for the loan to be secured by indentures, but Yermak and the other Cossacks rejected this.  Instead, they promised to repay the Stroganovs through the spoils of war, if they were successful in their attack.  If they failed and died, however, Yermark sarcastically promised to instead repay the loan by praying on the Stroganovs’ behalf once the Cossacks reached heaven.

The Unfortunate Tsar, Ivan VI

Ivan VI, born in 1740, was the grandnephew of the Russian Tsarina Anne.  Shortly before her death, she declared him her heir.  He became tsar at the age of two months.  His mother, Anne, became regent.  As time passed, the relationship between her and Peter the Great’s last surviving child, Elizabeth, worsened.  Fearing she would be forced into a convent, Elizabeth, with the support of the soldiery, especially the Preobrazhensky Guards, went into Anne’s bedroom one night, woke her up, and, without any bloodshed, became tsarina with Anne’s surrender of power, she realizing that she situation was hopeless.  Elizabeth took power in 1741, and Ivan VI became a secret state prisoner after a reign of a little over a year.

In 1762, after becoming tsar, Peter III visited Ivan VI in his prison.  Peter, too, felt he had been mistreated by Elizabeth, and so felt a great deal of sympathy for Ivan, whom he had never met.  He wished to bestow upon Ivan a sinecure, perhaps even a military position.  Peter visited Schlüsselburg Fortress, where he had been confined for the past eighteen years, and realized the impossibility of this.  Ivan was thin and lanky, his unshaven hair reaching to his waist.  His clothes were ragged and dirty.  He was illiterate, unsure about his own identity, stammered out disconnected sentences, and showed other signs of mental instability.  Peter asked how he could help, and Ivan asked whether he could have more fresh air.  Peter ordered a house to be built in the courtyard so that Ivan might have more room and air, but could not take him out of the prison.

Elizabeth had issued secret standing orders that, if any attempt to free Ivan seemed successful, he was to be killed immediately by his jailers.  Vasily Mirovich was not only unaware of these orders, but, seeing the great wealth and power that accrued to those officers who had placed Catherine on the throne, decided to do the same for Ivan VI.  With a group of soldiers, he attacked and captured the fortress, and entered the tsar’s cell.  Ivan lay dead in a pool of his own blood.  When the first shots had been fired, his guards had pulled him out of his bed and stabbed him eight times with their swords.  His coup aborted, Mirovich surrendered, and thusly did Ivan finally die.