Empress Catherine the Great, and an Autocrat of all the Russias

Empress Catherine the Great, and an Autocrat of all the Russias
02 May 2014

Empress Catherine was born as Sophie Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst (Principality of Holy Roman Empire) on 2 May 1729 in a family of high nobility but not belonging to a royal family.

From an early age, she got herself noted for her charisma and intelligence. Her mother, paying attention to what was going on with the Russian throne , maneuvering so that her daughter married the future Tsar Peter III, who was supposed to succeed his mother Elisabeth 1.

Aged 14 years and still a novice about all the games of power and politics, she quickly understood the challenges of such a marriage. She easily won the heart of Elizabeth 1 by converting herself to Orthodoxy in June 28, 1744 (and took the name Catherine Alexeivna). She also learned Russian and spoke without accent !  She also studied Russian culture and showed some interest in her future people that will win their affection to her.

Her marriage took place in St. Petersburg in August 21, 1745. She did not like her husband, and  after the death of Elizabeth 1, she did not hesitate to dethrone him in 1762 with the support of the army and the Russian nobility. Then, she took the title of Empress and Autocrat of all the Russias.

Her reign was one of the most brilliant in Russia! She annexed nearly 520,000 km2 of territories to Russia and was recognised in her capacity as mediator in various conflicts. Fed by the writings of the Enlightenments, she wanted to modernise the country, even more than in her time the country became the first world producer of iron, cast iron and copper. Despite this, she faced a situation of economic, political and cultural underdevelopment of Imperial Russia.

An amusing anecdote about the Empress  : she had a huge sexual appetite and counted a number of lovers to whom she offered property, serfs, gifts, but never gave them enough power that could reduce hers !

She died November 5, 1796 of a heart attack. She leaves behind a mark in the history of Russia. It is an example that a woman, after all,  knows as well how to govern as a man!

This post was brought to you by Anne Sophie, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz

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