The entrance to Kronstadt Harbor was closed by a boom. Seeing the blockade, Peter believed it wise to sail towards the fortress. Leaving the comforts of his barge, he seated himself inside a small vessel and was rowed towards the boom. As he approached the fort, he could see several officers on the ramparts.
“I command you to remove this boom!” called Peter once he was close enough to be heard.
A young officer peeked over the ramparts. His eyes narrowed, to see who commanded him with an arrogance and a haughtier that could make an enemy of a saint.
“Stay away or there will be no choice but to open fire!” warned the officer.
Peter wrinkled his nose. As he stood up, the small boat shifted a little. He tossed back his cloak to reveal a uniform and a ribbon showing he belonged to the Order of St. Andrew.
“Do you not know who I am? I am your emperor!” yelled Peter.
The expression on the officer’s face changed from one of annoyance to downright loathing. “We have no emperor! Only an empress! We now have orders from her to allow no one within these walls!”
“But I am Peter III! Your emperor!” shouted Peter, as if repeating this declaration would melt away all his problems.
“Back away or we will open fire!” repeated the officer.
Peter scrambled back into his seat. With wide-eyed terror, he shrieked, “Row, you buffoons! Row back to the barge!”
The young officer watched the tiny vessel row into the distance, until it was but a tiny speck amongst a sea of water.
“Coward,” muttered the officer before aiming his spit at the spot where Peter’s boat once was.
After sifting through any other possible options, Peter thought it best to hide from his estranged wife. He sailed to Oranienbaum, which he falsely believed to be the safest place in the world.
All hope evaporated once he landed at Oranienbaum. News reached him that Catherine was at the head of a large army. Peter’s quaking inner child returned. Tears streamed down his face. He paced about his room in a fit of hysterics.
The news forced Peter to confront the fact that he had lost the throne. Giving up all hope, he sent away all of the women in the carriages still in his possession. The only woman who stayed behind was his loyal mistress, perhaps his true love.
Distraught, Peter lay on the couch. He was curled up in a ball, sobs shaking his form. Kneeling by his side was his mistress.
“I will not abandon you!” proclaimed Elizabeth.
“You must. I could not bare seeing you die at the hands of my evil wife,” said Peter, tears rolling down his pale cheeks.
“No. I will never leave your side. I will be with you until the last.”
Sniffling, Peter said, “You are the only woman I have ever loved.”
“You must write your wife. Try to make concessions. That might save us,” suggested Elizabeth.
Sitting up from his position on a couch, he ordered for a servant to fetch him pen and paper. In his letter, he apologized for his behavior and offered to share the throne. The letter was sent straight away.
He waited for a reply to his letter. None came. A second letter was composed, one in which he begged for life. He swore to abdicate the throne as long as he could retire in Holstein with Elizabeth. The letter received a reply.
The messenger found Peter with his head in his hands. Footsteps alerted the deposed emperor of another in the room. His head snapped up. Realizing who he saw, he began to visibly shake. The messenger pitied him.
“What does my wife say?” asked Peter.
“She accepts your offer,” informed the messenger.
Peter could have collapsed from relief. “Praise the Lord!”
“Under one condition.”
Peter tensed. “What must I do?”
“You must put in writing your abdication of the throne.”
Peter scrambled from his seat and called for pen and paper. Once this was given to him, he rushed to a writing desk.
He pressed pen to paper and read what he wrote aloud. “I, Peter, swear that of my own choice to abdicate the throne. I swear before the entirety of Russian and the world that I will never attempt to reclaim the loss, for I renounce all of my rights before God and men.”
The messenger strode over to the now former emperor to look over his shoulder. Reading the hurried handwriting, he saw that every word Peter had uttered aloud was committed to paper.
With a nod, the messenger said, “This shall do. I will deliver this to the empress right away.”
Unceremoniously, the messenger took the sheet of paper from Peter’s shaking grasp. He left the room without so much a departing word.