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Elizabeth

Elizabeth, 1709–62, czarina of Russia (1741–62), daughter of Peter I and Catherine I. She gained the throne by overthrowing the young czar, Ivan VI, and the regency of his mother, Anna Leopoldovna. Her coup was made possible by her popularity with the imperial guards, who hated the German favorites of Anna Leopoldovna. Elizabeth herself, armed, led the bloodless revolution. Guided in her foreign policy by her chancellor, A. P. Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Elizabeth sought to rid Russia of German influence. She victoriously sided against Frederick II of Prussia in the Seven Years War, but her death and the accession of her nephew, Peter III, took Russia out of the war and made Frederick's ultimate victory possible. During her reign the nobles acquired more power over their serfs and gained a dominant position in local government, while the terms of service they owed the state were shortened. The Moscow Univ. (now Moscow State Univ.) and the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg were founded during her reign.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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