Tsar Paul I was a member of the House of Romanov. Paul was descended from the Romanovs through his mother's line rather than his father's. His official house was listed as Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.
In earlier times the succession in Russia had been a chaos:
Michael I (Russian: Михаи́л Фёдорович Рома́нов, Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov) (22 July [O.S. 12 July] 1596 – 23 July [O.S. 13 July] 1645) became the first Russian Tsar of the House of Romanov after the zemskiy sobor of 1613 elected him to rule the Tsardom of Russia. He was the son of Feodor Nikitich Romanov (later known as Patriarch Filaret) and of Xenia (later known as "the great nun" Martha). From his marriage to Eudoxia Streshneva, Michael fathered 10 children.
Alexei Mikhailovich (Russian: Алексе́й Миха́йлович, IPA: [ɐlʲɪkˈsʲej mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪtɕ]; 29 March [O.S. 19 March] 1629 – 8 February [O.S. 29 January] 1676) was the Tsar of Russia from 1645 until his death in 1676. Eldest (surviving) son of Michael I and Eudoxia. Alexei's first marriage to Miloslavskaya was harmonious and felicitous. She bore him thirteen children (five sons and eight daughters) in twenty-one years of marriage, and died only weeks after her thirteenth childbirth. Four sons survived her (Alexei, Fyodor, Semyon, and Ivan), but within six months of her death, two of these were dead, including Alexei, the 15-year-old heir to the throne. Alexei remarried on 1 February 1671 to Nataliya Kyrillovna Naryshkina (1 September 1651 – 4 February 1694). She was brought up in the house of Artamon Matveyev, whose wife was the Scottish-descended Mary Hamilton. They had 3 children.
Ivan V Alekseyevich (Russian: Иван V Алексеевич, 6 September [O.S. 27 August] 1666 – 8 February [O.S. 29 January] 1696) was a joint Tsar of Russia (with his younger half-brother Peter I) who co-reigned between 1682 and 1696. Ivan was the youngest son of Alexis I of Russia by his first wife, Maria Miloslavskaya, while Peter was the only son of Alexis by his second wife, Natalya Naryshkina. Ivan's reign was solely titular because he had serious physical and mental issues. In late 1683 or early 1684, Ivan married Praskovia Saltykova, daughter of Fyodor Petrovich Saltykov, a minor nobleman. She bore him 5 daughters.
Peter the Great (Russian: Пётр Вели́кий, tr. Pyotr Velikiy, IPA: [ˈpʲɵtr vʲɪˈlʲikʲɪj]), Peter I (Russian: Пётр Первый, tr. Pyotr Pyerviy, IPA: [ˈpʲɵtr ˈpʲɛrvɨj]) or Pyotr Alekseevich (Russian: Пётр Алексе́евич, IPA: [ˈpʲɵtr ɐlʲɪˈksʲejɪvʲɪtɕ]; 9 June [O.S. 30 May] 1672 – 8 February [O.S. 28 January] 1725) ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May [O.S. 27 April] 1682 until his death in 1725, jointly ruling before 1696 with his elder half-brother, Ivan V.Through a number of successful wars, he expanded the Tsardom into a much larger empire that became a major European power and also laid the groundwork for the Imperial Russian NavyHe led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political systems with ones that were modern, scientific, Westernised and based on the Enlightenment.Peter the Great had two wives, with whom he had fourteen children, three of whom survived to adulthood. Peter's mother selected his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina, with the advice of other nobles in 1689.This was consistent with previous Romanov tradition by choosing a daughter of a minor noble. This was done to prevent fighting between the stronger noble houses and to bring fresh blood into the family.Upon his return from his European tour in 1698, Peter sought to end his unhappy marriage. He divorced the Tsaritsa and forced her to join a convent. The Tsaritsa had borne Peter three children, although only one, Alexei Petrovich, Tsarevich of Russia, had survived past his childhood.His eldest child and heir, Alexei, was suspected of being involved in a plot to overthrow the Emperor. Alexei was tried and confessed under torture during questioning conducted by a secular court. He was convicted and sentenced to be executed. The sentence could be carried out only with Peter's signed authorization, and Alexei died in prison, as Peter hesitated before making the decision. Alexei's death most likely resulted from injuries suffered during his torture. Alexei's mother Eudoxia had also been punished; she was dragged from her home and tried on false charges of adultery. He took Martha Skavronskaya, a Polish-Lithuanian peasant, as a mistress some time between 1702 and 1704. Martha converted to the Russian Orthodox Church and took the name Catherine. Though no record exists, Catherine and Peter are described as having married secretly between 23 Oct and 1 December 1707 in St. Petersburg. Peter valued Catherine and married her again (this time officially) at Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg on 19 February 1712.In 1724, Peter had his second wife, Catherine, crowned as Empress, although he remained Russia's actual ruler. All of Peter's male children had died.
Grand Duke Alexei Petrovich of Russia (28 February 1690 – 7 July 1718) was a Russian Tsarevich. He was born in Moscow, the son of Tsar Peter I and his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina. Alexei despised his father and repeatedly thwarted Peter's plans to raise him as successor to the throne. His brief defection to Austria scandalized the Russian government, leading to harsh repressions against Alexei and his associates. Alexei died after interrogation under torture, and his son Peter Alexeyevich became the new heir apparent. Alexei married Princess Charlotte of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, whose family was connected by marriage to many of the great families of Europe (i.e., Charlotte's sister Elizabeth was married to Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, ruler of the Habsburg Monarchy). He had two children with Charlotte.
Catherine I (Russian: Екатери́на I Алексе́евна Миха́йлова, tr. Yekaterína I Alekséevna Mikháylova; born Polish: Marta Helena Skowrońska, Russian: Ма́рта Самуи́ловна Скавро́нская, tr. Márta Samuílovna Skavrónskaya; 15 April [O.S. 5 April] 1684 – 17 May [O.S. 6 May] 1727) was the second wife and Empress consort of Peter the Great, and Empress regnant of Russia from 1725 until her death in 1727. Catherine and Peter had twelve children, all of whom died in childhood except Anna and Elizabeth. In 1724 Catherine was officially crowned and named co-ruler and as Empress regnant.Peter died (28 January 1725 Old Style) without naming a successor. Catherine represented the interests of the "new men", commoners who had been brought to positions of great power by Peter based on competence. A change of government was likely to favor the entrenched aristocrats. For that reason during a meeting of a council to decide on a successor, a coup was arranged by Menshikov and others in which the guards regiments with whom Catherine was very popular proclaimed her the ruler of Russia, giving her the title of Empress. She died two years after Peter, at age 43, in St. Petersburg.
Peter II Alexeyevich (Russian: Пётр II Алексеевич, Pyotr II Alekseyevich) (23 October [O.S. 12 October] 1715 – 30 January [O.S. 19 January] 1730) reigned as Emperor of Russia from 1727 until his untimely death. He was the only son of Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich (son of Peter the Great by his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina) and of Charlotte Christine of Brunswick-Lüneburg.His father, the tsarevich Alexei, accused of treason by his own father, Peter the Great, died in prison in 1718. So three-year-old Peter and his four-year-old sister, Natalya, became orphans. Their grandfather showed no interest in their upbringing or education: the Tsar had disliked their father and even their grandmother, his own first wife, and young Peter in particular reminded him of his only son Alexei, whom the Tsar suspected of treachery. Therefore, from his childhood, the young orphaned Peter was kept in the strictest seclusion.Peter the Great died in 1725 and was succeeded by his second wife, Catherine I, a woman of low birth. During the reign (1725-1727) of Catherine I, young Peter was ignored; but by the time she died in 1727, it had become clear to those in power that the only male-line grandson of Peter the Great could not be kept from his inheritance much longer. Through the efforts of Menshikov, the court named Peter as Catherine's heir apparent, even though Catherine had two daughters of her own. The relevant documentation also specified the betrothal of Peter to Menshikov's daughter Maria.Though they never married their engagement was announced and a dowry discussed. Peter II was quick-witted, but apparently a stubborn and wayward boy, much like his grandfather. Despite these similarities, the emperor had no desire to learn to rule, unlike Peter the Great. Peter II returned to St. Petersburg from time to time, but continued an aimless life full of entertainment and distraction. He gradually fell under the ultimate influence of the Dolgorukovs – Peter II became smitten with the 18-year-old beauty Ekaterina Alekseyevna Dolgorukova. The family schemed to tie themselves to the imperial bloodline, and persuaded Peter to marry Ekaterina. However, it soon became clear that the young monarch had no interest in his bride, perhaps influenced by his aunt Elizabeth Petrovna, who did not like Ekaterina.In late December 1729, Peter II fell dangerously ill.Emperor Peter II died as dawn broke on 30 January 1730. With Peter's death, the direct male line of the Romanov dynasty ended. He was succeeded by Anna Ivanovna, daughter of Peter the Great's half-brother and co-ruler, Ivan V.
The 4th daughter (the 2nd one surviving into adulthood) of Ivan V & Praskovia: Anna Ioannovna (Russian: Анна Иоанновна; 7 February [O.S. 28 January] 1693 – 28 October [O.S. 17 October] 1740), also spelled Anna Ivanovna and sometimes anglicized as Anne, was regent of the duchy of Courland from 1711 until 1730 and then ruled as Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740. Much of her administration was defined or heavily influenced by actions set in motion by her uncle, Peter the Great. In 1730, Tsar Peter II (grandson of Anna's uncle Peter the Great) died childless at a young age. His death rendered extinct the male line of the Romanov dynasty, which had ruled Russia for over a century, since 1613. There were five possible candidates for the throne: the three surviving daughters of Ivan V, namely Catherine (born 1691), Anna herself (born 1693) and Praskovya (born 1694), and the two surviving daughters of Peter the Great, namely Anna (born 1708) and Elizabeth (born 1709). Finally, the Russian Supreme Privy Council led by Prince Dmitri Golitzyn selected Anna, the second daughter of Ivan V, to be the new Empress of Russia. She was selected in preference to her elder sister Catherine. At the time Anna was a childress widow. Strong-willed and eccentric, Anna was known for her cruelty and vulgar sense of humor. As her health declined Anna declared her grandnephew, Ivan VI, as her successor and appointed Biron as regent. This was an attempt to secure the line of her father, Ivan V, and exclude the descendants of Peter the Great from inheriting the throne. Anna died on October 17, 1740 at the age of 47 from a terrible kidney stone that made for a slow and painful death. Ivan VI was only a two-month-old baby at the time, and his mother, Anna Leopoldovna, was detested for her German counsellors and relations. As a consequence, shortly after Anna's death, Elizabeth Petrovna, legitimized daughter of Peter the Great, managed to gain the favor of the populace, locked Ivan VI in a dungeon, and exiled his mother. Anna was buried three months later on January 15, 1741, leaving behind uncertainty for the future of Russia
Ivan VI Antonovich (Iván VI; Ioánn Antónovich; Russian: Ива́н VI; Иоа́нн Анто́нович; 23 August [O.S. 12 August] 1740 – 16 July [O.S. 5 July] 1764) was Emperor of Russia in 1740–41. Ivan was the eldest child of Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick-Lüneburg by his wife, Duchess Anna Leopoldovna of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the only niece of the childless Empress Anna of Russia, and the only granddaughter of Tsar Ivan V. He was only two months old when he was proclaimed emperor and his mother named regent. Scarcely a year later, Elizabeth, his first cousin twice removed, seized the throne in a coup. Ivan and his parents were imprisoned far from the capital, and spent the rest of their lives in captivity. After more than twenty years as a prisoner, Ivan was killed by his guards when some army officers (unknown to Ivan) attempted to free him. His surviving siblings, who had been born in prison, were then released into the custody of their aunt, the Danish queen dowager Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.
Elizabeth Petrovna (Russian: Елизаве́та (Елисаве́та) Петро́вна) (29 December [O.S. 18 December] 1709 – 5 January 1762 [O.S. 25 December 1761]), also known as Yelisaveta or Elizaveta, was the Empress of Russia from 1741 until her death in 1762. Her parents were Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia and Catherine I. As a child, Elizabeth was the favorite of her father, whom she resembled both physically and temperamentally. Even though he adored his daughter, Peter did not devote time or attention to her education; having both a son and grandson from his first marriage to a noblewoman, he did not anticipate that a daughter born to his former maid might one day inherit the Russian throne, which had until that point never been occupied by a woman; as such, it was left to Catherine to raise the girls, a task met with considerable difficulty due to her own lack of education. In 1724, Peter betrothed his daughters to two young princes, first cousins to each other, who hailed from the tiny north German principality of Holstein-Gottorp and whose family was undergoing a period of political and economic stress. Anna Petrovna (aged 16) was to marry Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, who was then living in exile in Russia as Peter's guest after having failed in his attempt to succeed his maternal uncle as King of Sweden and whose patrimony was at that time under Danish occupation.n the same year, Elizabeth was betrothed to marry Charles Frederick's first cousin, Charles Augustus of Holstein-Gottorp, the eldest son of Christian Augustus, Prince of Eutin. Her sister's wedding was held in 1725 as planned, even though their father died a few weeks before the nuptials. In her case, however, her fiancé died on 31 May 1727, before the wedding could be celebrated. On the night of 25 November 1741 (O.S.), Elizabeth seized power with the help of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. Elizabeth crowned herself Empress in the Dormition Cathedral on 25 April 1742 (O.S.) As an unmarried and childless empress, it was imperative for Elizabeth to find a legitimate heir to secure the Romanov dynasty. She chose her nephew, Peter of Holstein-Gottorp. The young Peter had lost his mother at three months old and his father at the age of eleven. Elizabeth invited her young nephew to Saint Petersburg, where he was received into the Orthodox Church and proclaimed the heir to the throne on 7 November 1742. Keen to see the dynasty secured, Elizabeth immediately gave Peter the best Russian tutors and settled on Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst as a bride for her heir. On her conversion to the Russian Orthodox Church, Sophie was given the name Catherine in memory of Elizabeth's mother. The marriage took place on 21 August 1745. Nine years later a son, the future Paul I, was born on 20 September 1754. There is considerable speculation as to the actual paternity of Paul I. It is suggested that he was not Peter's son at all but that his mother had engaged in an affair, to which Elizabeth had consented, with a young officer, Sergei Vasilievich Saltykov, who would have been Paul's biological father. Peter never gave any indication that he believed Paul to have been fathered by anyone but himself but took no interest in parenthood. Elizabeth most certainly took an active interest and acted as if she were his mother, instead of Catherine.
Peter III (21 February [O.S. 10 February] 1728 – 17 July [O.S. 6 July] 1762) (Russian: Пётр III Фёдорович, Pyotr III Fyodorovich) was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was born in Kiel as Charles Peter Ulrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp (German: Karl Peter Ulrich von Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf), the only child of Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (the son of Hedvig Sophia of Sweden, sister of Charles XII), and Anna Petrovna (the elder surviving daughter of Peter the Great). The German-born Peter could hardly speak Russian and pursued a strongly pro-Prussian policy, which made him an unpopular leader. He was deposed by troops loyal to his wife, Catherine, the former Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, who despite her own German origins was a Russian nationalist. The emperor was arrested and forced to abdicate on 9 July [O.S. 28 June] 1762. Shortly thereafter, he was transported to Ropsha, where he later died. There is much mystery surrounding his death. The official cause, after an autopsy, was a severe attack of hemorrhoidal colic and an apoplectic stroke, while others say he was assassinated. He was buried 3 August 1762 [O.S. 23 July]