In 1790 he conducted the military operations on the Dniester and held his court at Jassy with more than Asiatic pomp. In 1791 he returned to St Petersburg where, along with his friend Bezborodko (q.v.), he made vain efforts to overthrow the new favourite, Zubov, and in four months spent 850,000 roubles in banquets and entertainments, a sum subsequently reimbursed to him from the treasury.
The money they cost her was a small sum in comparison to the f 12,000,000 she lavished on her long series of lovers, who began with Soltykov and Stanislaus Poniatowski before she came to the throne, and ended with the youthful Platon Zubov, who was tenant of the post at her death.
She disgraced herself by living with her last lover, Zubov, when she was a woman of sixty-seven, trusting him with power and lavishing public money on him.
It is plain that her intellect had begun to fail just before her death, for she allowed the reigning favourite, Platon Zubov, to persuade her to despatch his brother Valerian, with the rank of field marshal and an army of 20,000 men, on a crack-brained scheme to invade India by way of Persia and Tibet.
Subsequently Catharine reconciled him with Zubov, and he resumed the conduct of foreign affairs.
He was succeeded by his son, the emperor Alexander I., who was actually in the palace, and to whom Nicholas Zubov, one of the assassins, announced his accession.
And he saw before him a plump, rather sallow- faced, short, stout woman, the Empress Mother, with her smile and her words at her first gracious reception of him, and then that same face on the catafalque, and the encounter he had with Zubov over her coffin about his right to kiss her hand.
When they had all been brought for the night to a large house on the Zubov Rampart that was being used as a guardhouse, Pierre was placed apart under strict guard.