Louise of Baden (1779-1826) was, as Elizabeth Alexeievna, Empress of Russia during her marriage with Emperor Alexander I. Born Princess Louise of Baden, she was a daughter of Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden, and his wife, Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. She grew up in a close, warm family environment in Karlsruhe during the long reign of her grandfather Charles Frederick, Margrave of Baden, and came to Russia in 1792, when she was chosen by Empress Catherine II as the bride for her eldest grandson, the future Tsar Alexander I. Louise converted to the Orthodox Church, took the title of Grand Duchess of Russia, and traded the name Louise Maria for Elizabeth Alexeievna. She married Alexander in 1793, when he was 15 and she was 14. Initially the marriage was happy. Elizabeth was beautiful, but shy and withdrawn. She had 2 daughters, but both died in early childhood. During the reign of her father-in-law, Tsar Paul I, she supported her husband’s policies and was with him on the night of Paul’s assassination. As empress consort, she took part in Court life and the duties of representation, but the role of first lady in the Empire was reserved for her mother-in-law, Maria Feodorovna. For almost 2 decades, Alexander I and Elizabeth lived in harmony, but led separate lives, with both having affairs. She was neither popular in Russia nor much loved by her Romanov relations. She did not play any major political role, but during the Napoleonic Wars, she was a reliable supporter of her husband’s policies. She joined him at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. After many years living apart, they reconciled in the early 1820s. By 1824, they were once again the happy couple of their youth. As Elizabeth’s health was fragile, they moved to Taganrog, where Emperor Alexander died in 1825. Empress Elizabeth died on her return journey to the capital, 5 months after later.
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