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Ekaterina Romanova Vorontsova, Princess Daschkowa

(b. March 28, 1743, Saint Petersburg, Russia – d. Jan. 15, 1810, Moscow, Russia )

Gender: F

Ekaterina Romanovna Vorontsova (1743-1810) was the daughter of Count Roman Vorontsov. At the age of fifteen she married Prince Mikhail Dashkov (1736-1764), and they had three children, two of whom survived infancy. At the age of nineteen, she played a role in the coup that resulted in the assassination of Czar Peter III and the elevation of Catherine II to the throne of Russia. In 1768, following the death of her husband, Dashkova set out with her two children on an extended tour of Europe, where her status gave her access to the courts and her literary and scientific reputation procured her an entrée into learned society. In Paris she joined the circles of Diderot and Voltaire, and visited London in 1771 and 1776; in Edinburgh, where she lived from 1777-1779, she entrusted the education of her son to William Robertson, Principal of Edinburgh University.On her return in 1782, the Empress appointed her Director of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg; the post had never been held by a woman, and Dashkova made it clear she did not intend it to be a merely titular appointment, playing an active role from 1783-1796. She was also founder and President of the Russian Academy, and arranged for the publication of the first dictionary of the Russian language. She wrote plays and articles, and was one of the first Russians to edit a journal. Benjamin Franklin nominated her for membership of the American Philosophical Society. Following Catherine’s death in 1796, the new Czar banished her from court and she retired to her estate near Moscow, where she passed the rest of her life writing her memoirs. These were translated and published by the Anglo-Irish sisters Martha and Catherine Wilmot, who were Dashkova’s constant companions in her later years.

Also known as:

  • Princess Daschkowa
  • Ekaterina Romanova Vorontsova

Please note that all dates and location information are provisional, initially taken from the library and archive catalogues. As our section editors continue to work through the material we will update our database and the changes will be reflected across the edition.