Excerpt from Paul the First of Russia, the Son of Catherine the Great
The tragic figure Of the son of Catherine the Great is one Of the most enigmatic in history, and also one Of the most discussed. Mad monarchs have been common enough, and in the second half Of the eighteenth century such an afﬂiction hardly called for remark. George III in England and Christian VII in Denmark were the contemporaries of the Czar Paul, whose case however presents some special features.
In the first place was Catherine's son really mad Till lately it seemed to be admitted that he was so, at any rate in the last years Of his life. The events of his reign Of nearly four years were unanimously regarded as the grotesque and disastrous result of the uncontrolled caprice Of a demented tyrant. All this is now contested, and in the last few years there has been a complete reversal of the received Opinions both Of Paul's character and intellect and Of the value Of his work.
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