Anna of Russia or Anna Ivanovna (Russian: Анна Ивановна) (7 February [O.S. 28 January] 1693, Moscow – 28 October [O.S. 17 October] 1740) reigned as Duchess of Courland from 1711 to 1730 and as Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740.
As one of her first acts to consolidate this power she restored the security police,which she used to intimidate and terrorize those who opposed her and her policies. Although she did not move the capital back to Moscow, she spent most of her time at that city in the company of her foolish and ignorant maids. Anna loved cruel jokes. She had fire bells rung throughout St Petersburg just to see the panic. She had Prince Nikita Volkonski feed her dog with cream; his wife fed lettuce to her rabbit with her teeth. Volkonski would be forced to ‘marry’ Prince Galitzine; they had to dress as birds, sit in a straw basket outside Anna’s bedroom, and squawk. Finding delight in humiliating old nobility, she arranged the marriage of old Prince Galitzine, who had incurred her displeasure by marrying an Italian Catholic, with one of her maids (after the death of his first wife), an elderly Kalmyk called Avdotaya Ivanovna. The couple were presented with a fleet of carriages, each carrying a member of one of the empires races, each pulled by a different farm animal. The couple had to ride an elephant. Anna dressed them as clowns, and had them spend their wedding night naked in a specially constructed ice palace during the exceptionally harsh winter of 1739–40. This palace was 80 feet long, 30 feet high and 23 feet deep. It even had a stove. It cost 30,000 roubles and came with a bed, clock, Cupid, elephant, dolphins, cannon trees and plants: all were made of ice. The dolphins squirted naptha and the elephant squirted water. Somehow the couple survived their wedding night.
Anna was famed for her big cheek, “which, as shown in her portraits”, Carlyle says, “was comparable to a Westphalian ham”