Paul I of Russia was the son of Catherine the Great and became emperor when she died in 1796. His 4.5 year reign was characterized by alienating Russian nobility and dismissing over 300 generals while reforming the army. He was also tentative in foreign affairs and paranoid about retribution. To solidify his defense, he commissioned a fortress. The island compound became known as St. Michael’s Castle after a reported apparition of Archangel Michael during the building’s construction. The Russian emperor’s plan was foiled and his feared realized when he was assassinated inside the castle in 1801 about a month after its completion. Mikhailovsky Castle now houses a portrait gallery operated by the State Russian Museum.