Princess Charlotte of Württemberg

Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna
Elena Pavlovna of Württemberg by anonymous (Hillwood museum).jpg
Born(1807-01-09)9 January 1807
Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg
Died2 February 1873(1873-02-02) (aged 66)
Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg, Empire of Germany
SpouseGrand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia
(m. 1824–1849; his death)
IssueGrand Duchess Maria Mikhailovna
Elizabeth Mikhailovna, Duchess of Nassau
Catherine Mikhailovna, Duchess Georg August of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Grand Duchess Alexandra Mikhailovna
Grand Duchess Anna Mikhailovna
Full name
Friederike Charlotte Marie
FatherPrince Paul of Württemberg
MotherPrincess Charlotte of Saxe-Hildburghausen
ReligionRussian Orthodox
prev. Lutheran

Princess Charlotte of Württemberg (9 January 1807 – 2 February 1873) was later known as Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, the wife of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia. He was the youngest son of Emperor Paul I of Russia and Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg.

Early life[edit]

She was born in Stuttgart, as Princess Charlotte of Württemberg, eldest daughter of Prince Paul of Württemberg and of Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Hildburghausen. As a child, Charlotte lived in Paris with her father and her younger sister Pauline. Their home was quite modest by royal standards. In Paris Charlotte came under the tutelage of several intellectuals.


In 1822, she became engaged to Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich of Russia, her first cousin once removed (Mikhail's mother was her father's aunt). It was said that Charlotte was an exceptional girl, highly intelligent and mature for her age of 15.[1] The Grand Duke was obviously impressed by her beauty and her poise, and during a reception held in her honor, she charmed all the guests with her conversations.[1] On 17 December 1823, she was received into the Russian Orthodox Church and was given the name Elena Pavlovna.[2] On 20 February 1824, the couple married in Saint Petersburg and settled in the Mikhailovsky Palace. When the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna died in 1828, the palace of Pavlovsk passed on to Mikhail and he and Elena visited it often. Their marriage was not a happy one: Mikhail's only passion was for the army and he neglected Elena. Nevertheless, he and Elena had five daughters.


  1. Grand Duchess Maria Mikhailovna of Russia (9 March 1825 Moscow – 19 November 1846 Vienna); died unmarried
  2. Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mikhailovna of Russia (26 May 1826 Moscow – 28 January 1845 Wiesbaden); married Adolphe, Duke of Nassau and died in childbirth
  3. Grand Duchess Catherine Mikhailovna of Russia (28 August 1827 Saint Petersburg – 12 May 1894 Saint Petersburg), married Duke Georg August of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
  4. Grand Duchess Alexandra Mikhailovna of Russia (28 January 1831 Moscow – 27 March 1832 Moscow)
  5. Grand Duchess Anna Mikhailovna of Russia (27 October 1834 Moscow – 22 March 1836 Saint Petersburg)

Influence at the Russian court[edit]

Russian Sisters of Mercy in the Crimea, 1854-1855

Elena was a close friend of her brother-in-law, Alexander I of Russia and his wife the Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna. She was also quick to befriend the shy Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of the then Tsarevich Alexander. When Princess Charlotte's husband died, in 1849, she became a patron of several charitable organizations and the arts. She founded the Saint Petersburg Conservatoire as well as a group of nursing sisters which would eventually become the forerunners of the Red Cross in Russia. During her time in Russia, she became known as the "family intellectual", and was considered the most exceptional woman in the family since Catherine the Great. She founded the Russian Musical Society and the Conservatoire, and was also liberal on serfdom. She helped to push Alexander II to abolish serfdom while he stayed with her.[3]

As a patroness of the composer Anton Rubinstein, she commissioned his first three operas: Fomka the Fool (1853), The Siberian Hunters, and Vengeance.[4]

Elena died in Stuttgart, at the age of 66.

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 9 January 1807 – 20 February 1824: Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Württemberg
  • 20 February 1824 – 2 February 1874: Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia




  • Lincoln, W. Bruce. The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russians. 1983
  • Sebag Montefiore, Simon. The Romanovs: 1613-1918. 2016. Knopf Publishing Group.
  • Taylor, Philip S., Anton Rubinstein: A Life in Music, Indianapolis, 2007
  • Zeepvat, Charlotte. Romanov Autumn. 2001


  1. ^ a b Zeepvat, p.19.
  2. ^ Zeepvat, p.20.
  3. ^ Sebag Montefiore, p. 546
  4. ^ Taylor (2007), 39

External links[edit]