Catherine the Great (1729–1796)

Caterine the Great

1729 Catherine the Great was born at Stettin (Szczecin), Poland, on the 2nd of May. She was the encroaching and vivi empress, she ruled for 30 years and finished Russia’s transforming into a great power and a modern and flourishing state. She was the daughter of an important German prince.

1745 She married the great Duke Peter, inheritor of Russia’s throne and nephew of Peter the Great, after she had been baptized in Christian-Orthodox religion as Catherine. The marriage was not a successful one, but she was very ambitious and fell passionately in the whirl of her new life in Russia. She built with care and patience a group of supporters at St. Petersburg and ensured the loyalty of imperial guard being helped by that who was the first in a long series of lovers, charming Officer Grigory Orlov.

1762 Few months after she was crowned as Tsar Peter III, her alcoholic husband was driven away by a coup and later he was killed; so, the way towards the throne was opened for the former German princess.

1767 Her domestic policy focused on tsarist power strengthening, on noblemen influence increasing and on administration business streamline.

1773 Catherine filtered with liberal ideas: she corresponded quite closely to great French philosophers, Voltaire and Diderot, she even had the second as a guest to her Court.

1774 The most appreciated lover of her, Grigory Potemkin, was also her best adviser. A small aristocrat that remarked himself during the war against Turkish people, Potemkin, who had just one eye, became Catherine’s lover. Their relationship continued a long period after the passion had finished. Catherine was ruling Russia but it was said that Potemkin led Catherine.

1777 Catherine succeeded, by army’s help, an uprising led by Caucasus. She filled in the treasury confiscating churches’ fortunes.

1783 She owed her greatness to external policy and to conquers she did. Under Catherine, Russia had two wars against Ottomans and extended the territory until Constantinople, including Crimea and its harbours at the Black Sea. Closer to home, Catherine’s Russia shamelessly participated to Poland’s hackling.

Both Russian and foreign culture flourished during Catherine’s reign. She was a great leader, she turned St. Petersburg into a Granite Capital, established the core that is now Hermitage Museum and of one of the invaluable art collections in the world. Catherine promoted both art and science and founded the first school for girls in Russia.

1795 The final hackling of Poland took place.

The last years of her reign were dark because of the execution of another European Monarch, France’s King, Ludovic XVI and because of revolutionary armies march.

Empress Catherine solved Poland’s problem by a “dead hand” help; she crowned here one of her former lovers, Stanislaw Paniatowski, who blindly obeyed her.

The empress was not pretty and as she said, was “more masculine than feminine”. She continued to have young lovers until she died, when she was 67 years old.

1796 She died at St. Petersburg, on November, 17th. It was rumoured that she died because of a device failure, called “Catherine’s scripts” while she was trying to mate with a horse, gossip that is not very sustained by reality. [1]




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