Alexander Lanskoi

Born: 1758, Smolensk Province
Died: 1784, Tsarskoe Selo

Alexander Lanskoi was the son of an impoverished landowner from Smolensk. After serving in the Izmailovsky Regiment, he was transferred to the cavalry guards and promoted to the rank of army lieutenant. In summer 1779, he was spotted by Catherine the Great, who moved him into the royal palace. The empress fell desperately in love with him and showered him with all sorts of favours. The passion of the fifty-three year-old woman for the twenty-two year-old man was so insatiable that Lanskoi had to resort to artificial stimulants, which led to his death at the age of twenty-five in 1784. Catherine was inconsolable and buried her favourite in the park at Tsarskoe Selo, not far from the palace, where she often went to grieve. Lanskoi’s enemies later dug up his grave and left the corpse in front of the palace. The empress ordered him to be reburied and built a chapel over his new grave, named after the icon of Our Lady of Kazan.

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