HISTORIANS OF RUSSIA have been kind to neither the reign nor the personality of Peter III. The descriptions of Peter as a man are usually based on the portrait sketched by his wife, Catherine II, who had good reason to make him appear as ridiculous and unappealing as possible. The reign, which lasted only from Christmas Day 1761 to June 28, 1762, is usually dismissed in a few sentences, with notice taken only of the end of compulsory service for the nobility and of Peter's fawning admiration of Frederick II and all things Prussian, a mania that robbed Russia of the fruits of her spectacular victories in the Seven Years' War. If we add the dissatisfaction of the Guards regiments with their new Prussian-style uniforms and the threat of their transfer from the capital to fight for the emperor's interests in his native Holstein, we have exhausted the common explanation for his dethronement and violent death at the hands of Catherine's favorites. 1