Juliane De Vietinghoff Krudener, baroness, a Russian novelist and mystic, born in Riga, Nov. 21, 1764, died in Karasu-Bazar, Crimea, Dec. 25, 1824. She was carefully educated in the house of her father, Baron Vietinghoff, one of the wealthiest proprietors in Livonia, and was early remarkable for intelligence and for a tendency to revery and melancholy. In 1777 she visited Paris with her parents, and on her return at the age of 18 was married to a Russian diplomatist, Baron Krudener, whom in 1784 she accompanied to Venice and other cities of Italy, and afterward to Copenhagen and Paris; and in 1791 she made a journey through the south of France. Of a singularly naive and romantic character, she was guilty of numerous indiscretions, which led to a separation from her husband in 1791. After an adventurous life, with a reputation for beauty and wit, in various cities of Europe, she went to Paris in 1803 with literary schemes. Her romance Valerie appeared in that year, marked by a vague melancholy and light and graceful style, which, with the support of her friends, secured it a brilliant success. Returning to Riga, and remaining for a time in retirement, she resolved to change her manner of life, and to devote herself solely to the conversion of sinners and the consolation of the wretched.
In this pious design she was confirmed by travelling in Germany, by correspondence with the Moravian Brethren, and by an acquaintance with the theosophist Jung-Stilling. Her correspondence for several years abounds in mystical effusions, more elegant' though less profound than those of Mme. Guyon, and reveals her double tendency to illuminism and to worldly frivolity. At Paris in 1814 she held religious assemblies in her house, which were frequented by the most important personages. Her spiritual exaltation assumed the character of prevision, and in a letter she foretold in vague terms the escape of Napoleon from Elba, his triumphant return to Paris, and the second exile of the Bourbons. This letter was communicated to the emperor Alexander of Russia, in whom it awakened great interest toward her, and whom she met at Heilbronn in May, 1815, and accompanied to Heidelberg, the headquarters of the allies, and after the battle of Waterloo to Paris. She was present at the grand review of the Russian army in the plain of Chalons, which she described under the title of the Camp des vertus (1815). The articles of the holy alliance are said to have been submitted to her revision.
Her doctrines, agreeing with the forms of no Christian communion, caused several of the German states to forbid her residence in them. She passed the latter part of her life among the poor and the sick, manifesting an unwearied ardor, and joyously sacrificing herself for the solace of the wretched. In 1818 she returned to Russia, where the emperor continued his interest in her romantic views, but forbade her to preach publicly. She lost his favor, and was ordered to leave St. Petersburg, when, in her enthusiasm for the cause of the Greeks, she divulged some of his communications on the policy of the czars in the East. Her health was suffering from ascetic rigors, when early in 1824 she joined the princess Gallitzin in the scheme of founding a colony in the Crimea, which was to consist of her disciples. She arrived at Karasu-Bazar, the site selected, in September of that year, and was busy in preaching in French and German to the astonished inhabitants, till after a few months the malady which had afflicted her before her arrival caused her death.
The sincerity of Mme. de Krudener in her mysticism and her apostolic labors has not been questioned. - See Eynard, Vie de Mme. de Krudener (Paris, 1849), and Frau von Kru-dener, ein Zeitgemalde (Bern, 1868).