Fatal love triangles, or How Peter I dealt with rivals
Fatal love triangles, or How Peter I dealt with rivals
P. Delaroche. Portrait of Peter I, 1838. Fragment

The tough disposition of Peter I was legendary. He did not spare his enemies, and dealt with personal rivals with particular cruelty. Both his wives were convicted of infidelity, and those who turned the king into a cuckold paid for it with their lives. And in the choice of methods of execution, Peter I showed incredible ingenuity …

G. Kneller. Portrait of Peter I, 1697. Fragment

The family idyll of Peter with his first wife Evdokia Lopukhina did not last long: the tsar lost interest in his wife a year later, and soon exiled her to the Suzdal Intercession Monastery. For more than 10 years, Evdokia lived there all alone, but one day Major Glebov arrived from Moscow to Suzdal to conduct a recruitment. Having met the former queen, he lost his head. His feelings turned out to be mutual, and love correspondence grew into a relationship that lasted several years.

P. Gunst. Peter I. Engraving from the work of G. Kneller

Peter himself imprisoned his wife in a monastery and himself achieved a divorce from her, but upon learning of her infidelity, he was enraged. During a search of Glebov's house, they found the tsarina's love letters. Blinded by jealousy and anger, Peter I subjected Stepan Glebov to terrible torture. First, he received 34 blows with a whip on a rack, then open wounds were sprinkled with burning coals, and after that he was tied to a board studded with nails. At the same time, the major held courageously, confessing his guilt, but denying the guilt of the queen - although their love affair at that time was a proven fact.

The first wife of Peter Evdokia Lopukhin

Stepan Glebov was sentenced to death, however, for "high treason." The execution was sophisticated and painful: when the criminals were impaled, the instrument of execution passed through the human body, and death came quickly enough. But for Glebov, a stake was prepared with a crossbar, which did not allow the point to pass through the whole body and prolonged the torment and agony. The stake was erected on Red Square, for everyone to see and intimidate. Glebov died only on the second day, without making a sound. He was not even allowed to receive communion before his death - the priests were afraid of the royal wrath. The body of the executed was thrown into the ditch. But Peter did not stop there, and after 3 years he ordered the Holy Synod to anathematize him.

The first wife of Peter Evdokia Lopukhin

The second wife of Peter I, Catherine, cheated on him with the chamber-cadet Willim Mons, the brother of one of his former favorites. At that time, he was a rather influential person at the tsarina's court - he was in charge of finances and the palace economy, supervised purchases, was involved in organizing holidays and festivities, accompanied the tsarina on trips across Russia and abroad. Catherine's reputation was not impeccable - they said that she was always prone to drunkenness and debauchery, so it is not surprising that Mons soon became her lover.

Unknown artist. Portrait of Peter I and Catherine I

Despite all the caution and prudence of Catherine and Willim Mons, Peter eventually learned of the betrayal. In addition, it was discovered that, taking advantage of his official position, Mons repeatedly took bribes for intercession before the royal couple and delivering petitions to them. During interrogation, he confessed to everything and admitted his guilt. By decree of October 25, 1723, bribery in the public service was punishable by death and confiscation of property, so Mons was sentenced to death.

Peter's second wife Catherine I

On the night before his execution, Mons wrote poetry in German in which he confessed his love for the queen. In November 1724 the sentence was carried out. Catherine was brought to the place of execution and forced to watch Monsu's head cut off. Then Peter ordered to put the severed head in a jar of alcohol and put it in his wife's bedroom.

P. Zharkov. Peter I, 1796. Fragment

Catherine miraculously managed to avoid the fate of Peter's first wife and her lover.If the tsarina were convicted of adultery and executed, the question of the true paternity of her daughters would arise, and then none of the European princes would marry Russian princesses. Therefore, Peter pardoned his wife and was even able to forgive her. And after the death of the tsar in 1725, she became the autocratic empress and returned freedom to all those convicted in the Mons case.

Peter's second wife Catherine I

Peter I was not the only ruler in history who got married several times: 10 divorces of heads of state that are significant for world history

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