Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (1786–1859)

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Maria Pavlovna of Russia
Maria Pavlovna of Russia by V.Borovikovskiy (1804, Gatchina).jpg
Portrait by Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1800s
Grand Duchess consort of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Tenure14 June 1828 – 8 July 1853
BornMaria Pavlovna Romanova
(1786-02-16)16 February 1786
Saint Petersburg, Empire of Russia
Died23 June 1859(1859-06-23) (aged 73)
Belvedere Palace, Weimar, Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Imperial Confederate of Germany
IssuePrince Charles
Marie, Princess Charles of Prussia
Augusta, German Empress and Queen of Prussia
Charles Alexander, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
FatherPaul I of Russia
MotherSophie Dorothea of Württemberg
ReligionRussian Orthodoxy

Maria Pavlovna (Russian: Мария Павловна; 16 February 1786 [OS 5 February] – 23 June 1859) was born a grand duchess of Russia as the daughter of Paul I, Emperor of all the Russias and later became the Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach by her marriage to Charles Frederick of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1783–1853).

Early life[edit]

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna Romanova of Russia was born on 16 February 1786 in Saint Petersburg as the fifth child and third daughter of Tsesarevich Paul Petrovich of Russia and his second wife, Tsesarevna Maria Feodorovna (1754–1801), born Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg (1759–1828). She was named after her mother.

Maria Pavlovna spent her childhood in the Pavlovsk Palace and the Great Gatchina Palace. As a child, she was not considered pretty as her face had been disfigured as a result of being variolated. She was a talented pianist, for which her paternal grandmother, Catherine the Great (1729–1796) admired her, even though she thought that Maria Pavlovna would have been better off had she been born a boy. Her music instructor was Giuseppe Sarti, an Italian composer and the kapellmeister of the Russian court. From 1798, she was taught music by Ludwig-Wilhelm Tepper de Ferguson.

Life in Weimar[edit]

On 3 August 1804, Maria Pavlovna married Charles Frederick, Hereditary Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1783–1853). The couple stayed in Saint Petersburg for nine months before departing for Weimar. There, Maria Pavlovna was greeted with festivities as described by Christoph Martin Wieland: "The most festive part of all the magnificence of balls, fireworks, promenades, comedies, illuminations was the widespread and genuine joy at the arrival of our new princess".

As grand duchess, she took care of the poor of the country. She last visited Russia at the occasion of the coronation of her nephew, Alexander II of Russia in 1855.

Patronage of arts and sciences[edit]

Maria Pavlovna on a medal by Angela Facius from 1854, made for the golden jubilee of her arrival in Weimar.

Maria Pavlovna was interested in both art and science. She maintained a lifelong correspondence with Vasily Zhukovsky, and Friedrich Schiller dedicated one of his last poems to her. Schiller praised her "talents in music and painting and genuine love of reading", while Johann Wolfgang von Goethe hailed her as one of the worthiest women of his time.

Most famously, she held "literary evenings" ("Literarische Abende") where scholars both from and outside of the neighbouring University of Jena were invited to give lectures on various topics. The grand duchess herself attended ten courses at the university, some delivered by Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859). Several collections of the institution benefitted of her patronage, among them the Grandducal Oriental Coin Cabinet founded in 1840 by the orientalist Johann Gustav Stickel (1805–1896). She also played an instrumental role in establishing the Falk Institute in Weimar.

In her later years, Maria Pavlovna invited Franz Liszt to her court and appointed him "Kapellmeister extraordinaire" in 1842. In 1850, Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin premiered in Weimar, but her growing deafness prevented the grand duchess from enjoying it.


Maria Pavlovna had four children by her husband, Charles Frederick of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1783–1853), three of whom survived to adulthood:


Maria Pavlovna's letters to her maternal grandfather, Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg written between 1795 and 1797 are preserved in the State Archive of Stuttgart.[1] Her letters from between 1800 and 1859 are preserved in the "Maria Paulowna letters" collection of the Hoover Institution Library and Archives of Stanford University.[2]



  1. ^ "Herzog Friedrich Eugen (1732-1797) - Briefwechsel des Herzogs mit dem kaiserlichen Hause von Russland, 1795-1797 - 3. Schreiben der jungen Großfürsten Alexander und Konstantin und Großfürstinnen Alexandrina, Anna, Katharina, Elisabeth, Helene, Maria". Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Maria Paulowna letters". Hoover Institution Library & Archives. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  • Jena, Detlef, Maria Pawlowna. Großherzogin an Weimars Musenhof, Regensburg 1999.
  • Ihre Kaiserliche Hoheit. Maria Pawlowna. Zarentochter am Weimarer Hof, ed. Stiftung Weimarer Klassik und Kunstsammlungen, Weimar, Weimar 2004.
  • Jeanne Huc-Mazelet, Je suis moi, ils sont eux. Lettres et journal d'une gouvernante à la cour de Russie, 1790-1804, fr:Ethno-Doc, 2018, 256 p. (ISBN 978-2-8290-0584-8). (Jeanne Huc-Mazelet was at Maria Pavlovna's service).

External links[edit]

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (1786–1859)
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 16 February 1786 Died: 23 June 1859
German royalty
Preceded by Grand Duchess consort of Saxe-Weimar
14 June 1828 – 8 July 1853
Succeeded by