Dorothea Lieven

A Russian Princess in London and Paris, 1785–1857

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About the Book

Dorothea de Benckendorff was born December 28, 1785. Bright, vivacious and personable, she was destined to become an influential player in international diplomacy. Spending three of her most formative years in exile with her mother, Dorothea was not only the recipient of an excellent education, she was also the beneficiary of years of her mother’s careful social training. She was adopted by an intimate friend of her mother, Empress Maria of Russia, after her mother’s death. Dorothea’s close connections to the Russian imperial family positioned her for the life role she wished to play. Marriage to Count Christopher Lieven at the age of 14 (a custom typical of the place and time) furthered Dorothea’s desire to play a part in the fascinating world of politics. Beginning with her husband’s appointment by Tsar Alexander I as ambassador to Great Britain, Dorothea used her intellect, charisma and social skills to become a political force in European diplomacy during the first half of the nineteenth century.
This biography provides a detailed look at the life and times of Dorothea Lieven, a woman who achieved the status of an independent stateswoman in her own right in the diplomatic communities of Russia, France and England. It examines the way in which Dorothea, entrusted with a secret diplomatic overture to England by Tsar Alexander I, participated in events which culminated in the birth of modern Greece. Using Princess Lieven’s memoirs and other unpublished correspondence, the work provides a perspective on four Romanov rulers—Empress Catherine, Tsar Paul I, Tsar Alexander I and Tsar Nicholas I. The extent of Dorothea’s political and diplomatic influence, through her friendships with King George IV, the Duke of Wellington and Talleyrand as well as her liaisons with Clement Metternich and Francois Guizot, is also discussed. An appendix contains medical testimonial regarding the Princess’ declining health as well as some of Princess Lieven’s letters. A reference list of key events in her life is provided.

About the Author(s)

Historian Judith Lissauer Cromwell lives in New York.

Bibliographic Details

Judith Lissauer Cromwell

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 300
Bibliographic Info: 19 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2651-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Key Events in Dorothea Lieven’s Life      xi

Part I: Russia, 1785–1812
Prologue      3
1. From Riga to St. Petersburg      5
2. The Romanov Court      18
3. Peace and War      26

Part II: England, 1812–1834
4. Heady Surroundings      37
5. Exalted Company      46
6. Love in a Diplomatic Climate      55
7. Four Envelopes      64
8. Partners in Politics      72
9. The Cottage Coterie      80
10. “The Living Dispatch”      90
11. “Realpolitik”      100
12. Checkmate      108
13. “I Was Very Strongly Involved … in the Origin of Greece”      119
14. “To Know Everything and to Meddle in Nothing”      126
15. “I Only Display One Color … I Am Grey”      137
16. The Princess, the Prime Minister, and Poland      145
17. An Impossible Mission      153

Part III: France, 1835–1857
18. “What a Country Is Mine”      163
19. The Path to Paris      172
20. The Struggle to Stay in Paris      180
21. “You Are Not Alone”      192
22. “Make Her Obey”      200
23. “A Perfect Union”      211
24. The Entente Cordiale      219
25. “You … Are a Model of Order”      228
26. The Last Act of the Drama      237

Epilogue      251
Appendix      253
Notes      255
Select Bibliography      275
Index      281

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “In the ranks of women diplomats, Dorothea Lieven was a true pioneer…Cromwell’s study is thorough…the best so far on her later years and in providing details…should prove indispensable”—Slavic Review