Portrait of Elizabeth Petrovna (1709-1761), Empress and Autocrat of All the Russias (1741-1761), Tsesarevna (1721-1741), 1732
Elizabeth Petrovna (Russian: Елизавета Петровна) (18 December 1709 – 25 December 1761), also known as Elizaveta, was the Empress of Russia from 1741 until her death. She led the country during the two major European conflicts of her time: the War of Austrian Succession (1740–48) and the Seven Years' War (1756–63). Her domestic policies allowed the nobles to gain dominance in local government while shortening their terms of service to the state. She encouraged Mikhail Lomonosov's establishment of the University of Moscow and Ivan Shuvalov's foundation of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. She also spent exorbitant sums of money on the grandiose baroque projects of her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, particularly in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. The Winter Palace and the Smolny Cathedral in Saint Petersburg are among the chief monuments of her reign. She remains one of the most popular Russian monarchs due to her strong opposition to Prussian policies and her decision not to execute a single person during her reign. Elizabeth was born at Kolomenskoye, near Moscow, on 18 December 1709, the daughter of Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, by his second wife, Catherine I. Peter valued Catherine and married her again (this time officially) at Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg on 9 February 1712. On this day, the two children previously born to them (Anna and Elizabeth) were legitimized by their father. The circumstances of Elizabeth's birth would later be used by her political opponents to challenge her right to the throne on grounds of illegitimate birth. Of the twelve children born to Peter and Catherine (five sons and seven daughters), only two daughters, Anna (b. 1708) and Elizabeth (b. 1709,) survived to adulthood. Both of them were given the title of Tsarevna (“princess”) on 6 March 1711 and of Tsesarevna (“crown princess”) on 23 December 1721.
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