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Overlooked No More: The Soviet Icon Who Was Hanged for Killing a Czar

But ultimately, Perovskaya and her band of assassins took Russia further down the path toward the 1917 revolution, said Andrei B. Zubov, a historian and editor of the three-volume “History of Russia: The 20th Century” (2009).

“In some way — not immediately, but in some decades — her deeds and thoughts resulted in social revolution,” he said.

Perovskaya soon came to be revered for her self-sacrifice.

Overlooked No More: The Soviet Icon Who Was Hanged for Killing a Czar
Overlooked No More: The Soviet Icon Who Was Hanged for Killing a Czar

“In the 19th century, she was regarded a martyr to the struggle for social justice and constitutional reform among the liberal and radical intelligentsia,” said Barbara Evans Clements, emeritus professor at the University of Akron and author of “A History of Women in Russia: From Earliest Times to the Present” (2012).

In the 1920s, the Bolsheviks made Perovskaya an icon. Soviet biographies, novels and films — one with a popular score by the composer Dmitri Shostakovich — further burnished her legacy. Monuments, squares, streets and even a minor planet discovered in 1968 were named after her.

Sophia Perovskaya was born on Sept. 13, 1853. Her father, Lev Nikolaevich Perovsky, was a general who once served as governor-general of St. Petersburg and a descendant of the czarist line. He looked down on her pious mother, Varvara Stepanovna Perovskaya, for being a merely a provincial aristocrat.

Early on, Perovskaya clashed early with her despotic father.Tension only increased after Varvara encouraged her daughters to pursue higher education, which was still unconventional for young women at the time. Perovskaya attended the Alarchin Courses, a woman’s college, and organized a study circle.

Inspired by radical literature and repulsed by the brutal social injustices in Russian society — not to mention her father — Perovskaya left home while still a teenager.

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