Yekaterina Troubetzkàya, the wife of Prince Sergey Trubetzkoy – one of the leaders of the Decembrist’ Revolt - was the first of the so-called Decembrist’ Wives, who followed their husbands to Siberian exile.
Yekaterina Troubetzkàya (nee Laval) was born into the family of the French emigrant and head of the 3rd expedition of special chancellery of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ivan Stepanovich Laval and Alexandra Grigoryevna Laval (nee Kozitskaya), a rich heiress and hostess of a famous Petersburg high life salon.
Yekaterina Ivanovna got married to Sergei Petrovich Troubetzkoy in 1820. At the end of 1825 her husband was selected as the leader of the upcoming Decembrist’ Revolt, but on December 26 he decided not to head the revolt.
After the defeat of the revolt the Supreme Court sentenced Troubetzkoy to death. By the tsar’s resolution the death penalty was substituted with penal servitude for life. Later the term was reduced to 20, then to 15 and finally to 13 years.
Yekaterina Troubetzkàya was the first of the Decembrists’ wives to secure the authorization to go to Siberia to accompany her husband. She arrived in Irkutsk on September 16, 1826. On October 8, 1826 a group of convicts including S. P. Troubetzkoy was sent to Nerchinsk mines. For some time Yekaterina Troubetzkàya did not know where her husband was – she spent 5 months in Irkutsk, the governor of which had got an instruction from Petersburg to convince her to go back. However, Yekaterina Ivanovna held her ground.
At that time Mariya Nikolayevna Volkonskaya also came to Irkutsk to be with her husband. Princesses Troubetzkàya and Volkonskaya had to sign terms and conditions under which they could follow their husbands: they had to relinquish the rights they had by title and fortune; they could receive or send letters or money only through administration and meet their husbands only with permission of authorities in the places specified by administration.
On February 10th of 1827 Yekaternia Troubetzkàya was finally allowed to see her husband. In 1839 after the servitude term was over Sergey Troubetzkoy was assigned to settle in Oyok Settlement of the Irkutsk Province. “She was an embodiment of kindness itself, surrounded by adoration not only of comrades in exile, but all Oyok dwellers, who always found help in word and deed from her”, N.A. Belogolovyi remembered.
In 1845 the Troubetzkoys family was allowed to settle down in Irkutsk.
“The two main centers for Irkutsk Decembrists were the families of Troubetzkoy and Volkonsky, since they had the assets to live broader, and both the hostesses – Troubetzkaya and Volkonskaya with their intelligence and education, and Troubetzkàya with her outstanding cordiality – seemed to have been created to unite all the comrades into one friendly colony…” – memoirs of N.A. Belogolovyi read.
In spite of all the hardships of Siberian exile Sergey Troubetzkoy and Yekaterina Troubetzkaya had eight children.
Yekaterina Ivanovna Troubetzkaya died of cancer in Irkutsk on 14 October 1854. She was laid to rest at Znamensky Monastery.
Poet Nikolay Nekrasov glorified the moral feat of Princess Troubetzkaya in the first part of his poem Russian Women.