Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alexander and Elizabeth

The marriage of the future Tsar Alexander I of Russia and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexeievna in September 1793 was one of the highlights of Catherine the Great's life and reign. Dubbed by contemporaries as the marriage of "Cupid and Psyche", the couple won universal acclaim throughout Europe because of their angelic appearance and their charming nature. It was an arranged marriage, but Alexander and Elizabeth started their married life genuinely fond of and happy with each other. Sadly, marriage bliss for the couple was short-lived. The unfathomable Alexander drifted away from Elizabeth, got a mistress, and fathered several illegitimate children, while Elizabeth - with her placid nature and retiring ways - became a solitary and melancholy figure, neglected by her husband and treated with indifference by his family. It was only towards the end of their lives that the couple had a reconciliation - they were finally reunited and promised to devote themselves to each other. But this new-found happiness was cut short by Alexander's sudden death at the age of 47. Elizabeth, now a tired and broken woman, followed Alexander to the grave 5 months later.

The relationship between Alexander and Elizabeth was best summed up by the Countess of Choisseul-Gouffier in her memoirs:

"What a difference would it have made in the happiness of both, if they had been able to understand each other! They seemed to have been made the one for the other; the same goodness, the same gentleness and intellectual power. Yet there seemed to have been one point on which their hearts could not meet. Why is it that death alone has reunited such perfect souls?"


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hannah said...

What an intriguing couple! After what happened to them it is a consolation that they finally 'found' each other before they died, but it is all the more tragic since their happiness is short-lived.

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