KRUEDENER, kroi'de-ner", BARBARA JULIANA VON: Russian mystic; b. at Riga Nov. 11, 1764; d. at Karasubazar (70 m. n.e. of Sebastopol) Dec. 25, 1824. She was the daughter of


Otto Hermann von Vietinghoff, a Russian imperial privy councilor and a man of rationalistic views and a leading freemason, and of his wife Anna Ulrica, a strict Lutheran. After a fashionable education, she was married to Baron von Krüdener Sept. 23, 1782, who was then first Russian minister at the court of Courland. The marriage proved unhappy, since the husband was conscientious and retiring, while the wife was restless, given to coquetry and to the enjoyment of fashionable society in various capitals. At Paris she formed a liaison with a young officer which she refused to terminate at her husband's demand, and would not return to her home even during her husband's last illness, his death occurring June 14, 1802. Meanwhile she published a graceful novel, Valérie, ou lettres de Gustave de Linar à Ernest de G. (issued anonymously, 2 vols., Paris, 1804; a reissue, ib. 1878).

During a sojourn at Riga in the summer of 1804, Juliana experienced conversion, an experience which nothing in her past life seemed to make probable. From this time forth, as her utterances attested, an unwholesome, nervous "religiosity" came to be the dominant element in her character, and, through its extravagance, reflects a cloudy mysticism like that of the enthusiasms of the Chiliasts of Baden, Alsace, and Württemberg, with whom she cultivated relations of intimacy. Borne along by the charm of a seductive, and yet, amid all its aberrations, always distinguished personality, Baroness Krüdener contrived to bring singular effects to pass. But even the sympathetic side of her nature, which impelled her to numberless benefactions to the poor and sick, came gradually to lose its purity in the atmosphere surrounding her. What especially contributed to lead her astray and to impair her esteem was her association with the Württemberg "prophetess" Marie Gottliebin Kummer (familiarly styled Die Kummerin). From the close of 1808, the baroness and her new companions traveled about in the Württemberg districts, holding conventicles; but in the summer of 1809, she was expelled, while Kummer was put in ward.

Meanwhile, the apocalyptic elation of the enthusiasts had become powerfully enhanced by the political and military events of that era. In Napoleon they beheld Apollyon (Abaddon, Rev. ix. 11); Alexander of Russia seemed to them the deliverer. And as the baroness learned that Pietistic influences were felt by the czar, her plan was laid. At Heilbronn, accordingly, in June 1815, she so thoroughly succeeded, in an audience lasting several hours, in beguiling this mobile potentate with her personal views that he became a constant "guest" at her Bible classes in Heidelberg and Paris. She fostered in him the thoughts the material sequel of which was the treaty later known as the Holy Alliance, concluded between the czar of Russia, the emperor of Austria, and the king of Prussia, Sept. 26, 1815. Before long, however, Alexander turned away from his new friend, whose persisting association with Kummer and other unsalutary elements rendered him distrustful; to this was added his displeasure on account of her indiscreet utterances regarding the Holy Alliance.

That episode marks the climax in the life of Baroness Krüdener. In the years 1816-18, attended usually by an ample retinue, she traversed northerly Switzerland and southern Baden, winning souls, in her manner, for the kingdom of heaven, and lavishly dispensing among the poor and suffering the money constantly supplied by her infatuated adorers. She fell under a particularly demoralizing influence in the person of the Post-Secretary Keller from Brunswick, who hailed her as Deborah, Esther, Judith, and even as that woman of the Apocalypse (xii. 1) who should bear the Messiah; or as Mary's "vicaress," who should engender the New Church. Indeed, miraculous powers were claimed by the baroness herself. She was finally expelled from Switzerland and the South German States, and (in 1818) returned to her home. That she and her companions remained unmolested there was owing to the grace of the Czar Alexander. She conducted classes for Biblical study at Mitau, Riga, and on her estate Kosse, near Werro. But when once again she played the political prophetess, and acclaimed Alexander as future liberator of the Greeks, the Czar wrote to her in his own hand, enjoining her to silence under pain of his disfavor. By invitation of Princess Alexander Galitzin she journeyed to the Crimea in 1824, both to improve her health and to labor among the Pietists of that region, and there fell ill and died.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The earlier literature (cf. for it Hauck-Herzog, RE, xi. 146-147) is entirely superseded by E. Muhlenbeck, Étude sur les origines de la Sainte-Alliance. Avec un portrait du Mme. de Krudener, Paris, 1888.


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