The RUSSIAN PRINCESS
and her ALIBAMO Friends
She came to the French colony in 1721. She was Charlotte, Princess of Russia, daughter -in-law of the Emperor, Peter the Great. Born into a German principality, she was chosen by Peter to be the wife of his son Alexis Petrovich.
Alexis treated her cruelly and she plotted with friends to escape him. Her death was faked. Servants managed to smuggle her aboard a ship headed for the French colony Mobile. She brought with her jewels and sumptuous clothing.
The little colony was struggling for a foothold in the Wilderness. Life was hard. Imagine how the colonists were bedazzled by the Princess! Imagine what a diversion she was from their difficult world! Naturally they welcomed her into their company.
Soon Charlotte heard that her husband in Russia had died, a victim of his own failed coup to overthrow his powerful father. The Princess settled into her new life in the colony. Soon she met the handsome and dashing Chevalier D'Aubant; he began to pay many visits to her home. They fell in love. He asked the lovely Princess to be his wife and she said yes! So they were married and lived happily on in Mobile. Sometime later Charlotte gave birth to a little daughter.
In 1725, the Chevalier was made commandant of Fort Toulouse (established in 1717) upriver river from Mobile. The Chevalier went ahead to the Fort. He had a little cabin built for his dear wife and child and summoned them to join him. There was a festive celbration to celebrate the arrival of the Russian Princess. When she arrived by longboat, she was dressed in her finest robes and jewels. Imagine the sight! The Marines stationed at the Fort were overwhelmed with her beauty. To view a larger version of the picture of the Russain Princess and her Alibamo Friends, click here; please use your browser's BACK button to return to this page
Charlotte settled into her cozy home overlooking the beautiful riverbend. She often entertained the Alibamo women who came to Fort Toulouse; they visited on the fort grounds in the shadow of an ancient mound. Charlotte found a happiness and peace in the New World. The Alibamos who befriended the Princess were part of the mighty Creek Confederacy; it is from their tribe name that the state name Alabama evolved.
After awhile the Chevalier was called back to France. Charlotte and the child went with him to Paris but the Princess never forgot her beloved river home. For many years after the Alibamos spoke of the kindness of the lovely Princess.
Notes4U: You may visit Fort Toulouse today; managed by the Alabama Historical Commission, it is near Wetumpka, AL and part of Fort Toulouse-Jackson Park,where you may picnic and walk the grounds where the beauteous Russian Princess and her dear ones surely lived. The mound still stands and a log re-creation of the fort has been built. Periodically historical reenactments of French fort life are held. Additionally, near the fort is the William Bartram Arboretum, a series of paths and wildflower areas that honor the 18th-century naturalist who visited the area. William Bartram chronicled the wildlife observed in his travels in the frontier wilderness. and his delightful journal "The Travels of William Bartram" is still in print. Find in the picture native things: Silky Camellia (the Alabama state flower is the camellia), sunny-bright Coreopsis, Rose Pinks and fronds of Ferns that have been here forever.
Illustrations and stories by Carol Middleton 1998, 1999,
Look as much as you like but please respect the copyright and do not take them.
Your comments are welcome. Please send them to me Carol Middleton
back to Heritage of the South