In this way German influence was enormously increased, and was represented by men of considerable capacity holding the highest official positions, such as Biren, Miinnich and Ostermann.
Her reign (1730-40) was a regime of methodical German despotism on the lines laid down by her uncle, Peter the Great, and as she was naturally indolent and much addicted to frivolous amusements, the administration was directed by her favourite Biren (q.v.) and other men of German origin.
For this unfriendly act he was deposed and replaced by Biren, who had previously been duke of Courland (1737-40) and had since been an exile in Siberia and Yarosla y.
Under Biren (1763-69) and his son and successor (1769-95), as nominees of Catherine, Courland was completely under Russian influence until 1795, when it was formally incorporated with the empire.
BIREN (or BtHREN), Ernst Johann (1690-1772), duke of Courland, was the grandson of a groom in the service of Duke Standard Wing Bird of Paradise (Semioptera wallacei).
Of Courland, who bestowed upon him a small estate, which Biren's father inherited and where Biren himself was born.
During his patron's absence, Biren, a handsome, insinuating fellow, succeeded in supplanting him in the favour of Anne, and procuring the disgrace and banishment of Bestuzhev and his family.
On the elevation of Anne to the Russian throne in 1740, Biren, who had in the meantime married a Fraulein von Treiden, came to Moscow, and honours and riches were heaped upon him.
During the latter years of Anne's reign, Biren increased enormously in power and riches.
He also won the favour of Biren, and on the tragic fall of Artemy Voluinsky in 1739 was summoned home to take his place in the council.
He assisted Biren to obtain the regency in the last days of the empress Anne, but when his patron fell three weeks later, his own position became extremely precarious.
On the death of Anne (October 17th) he was proclaimed emperor, and on the following day Ernest Johann Biren, duke of Courland, was appointed regent.
On the fall of Biren (November 8th), the regency passed to the baby tsar's mother, though the government was in the hands of the capable vice-chancellor, Andrei Osterman.
In 1738 he was introduced into the Russian cabinet by Biren as a counterpoise against Andrei Osterman.
Voluinsky, however, now thought himself strong enough to attempt to supersede Biren himself, and openly opposed the favourite in the Council of State in the debates as to the indemnity due to Poland for the violations of her territory during the war of the Polish Succession, Biren advising that a liberal indemnity should be given, whereas Voluinsky objected to any indemnity at all.
Biren thereupon forced Anne to order an inquiry into Voluinsky's past career, with the result that he was tried before a tribunal of Biren's creatures and condemned to be broken on the wheel and then beheaded.
A few days after this proclamation the empress died, leaving directions regarding the succession, and appointing her favourite Ernest Biren, duke of Courland, as regent.
Biren, however, had made himself an object of detestation to the Russian people, and Anna had little difficulty in overthrowing his power.
The last Kettler, William, titular duke of Courland, died in 1737, and the empress Anne now bestowed the dignity on her favourite Biren, who held it from 1737 to 1740 and again from 1763 till his death in 1772.