Een though she was born a princess, Anna Ivanovna did not have a fairytale life. Her father, Tsar Ivan V, was mentally and emotionally absent. Her mother was unhappy and stern, and Anna, not known for her looks, was once mocked for resembling a “Westphalian ham.”
But in 1710, it seemed that everything was about to change when Anna Ivanovna was married to the Duke of Latvia. Unfortunately, her new husband died shortly after their wedding, leaving her alone in a foreign land.
Through an unlikely series of events, however, Anna Ivanovna became the Empress of Russia. She came to the throne embittered, lonely, and vindictive. Her 10-year reign is considered a “dark era” in Russian history — and included an elaborate ice palace meant to humiliate, torture, and kill a nobleman she didn’t like.
This is the story of Anna Ivanovna, the unhappy Russian empress.