The fictional treatment for the story of Paul I of Russia takes history and bends it to its will for the drama of his conflict with Catherine and his final defeat at the hands of conspirators. Never admitting that Paul was mad, this concentrates on Catherine's determination to exterminate her son after he produced an heir, underlines Paul's passion for this first wife, Natalie, who convinced him of her innocence against the Empress' charge of adultery, and whose death in childbirth permitted Paul the chance for life. His second marriage to Sophia (Marie) and the birth of their son found him ready to die fighting but by then Potemkin was again the Empress' favorite and offered the couple exile in exchange for Alexander. Exile brought him Katya; Catherine's sudden death and a turn of opinion gave Paul his chance at the crown and young Anna's devotion to her sovereign. But the enmity of Pahlen, Alexander's acquiescence to treachery and Marie's devotion to her son signed Paul's death warrant in his new palace. This explains away the verdicts of ""half-insane"", ""cruel"", ""mad conduct"" with its sympathetic picture of a man trapped by his mother and his country, by himself, his sickness and his insecurity. Interesting -- if debatable.