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Catherine II of Russia

Catherine II of Russia

Overview
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great , Empress of Russia, was born in Stettin
Szczecin
Szczecin , is the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea. As of June 2009 the population was 406,427....

, Pomerania, Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 on as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg. She was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from after a coup d'état and the assassination of her husband, Peter III
Peter III of Russia
Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

 (just after the end of the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

) until her death on . Catherine's rule re-vitalized Russia, which grew larger and stronger than ever and became recognized as one of the great power
Great power
A great power is a nation or state that has the ability to exert its influence on a global scale. Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength and diplomatic and cultural influence which may cause small powers to consider the opinions of great powers before taking actions...

s of Europe.

In both her accession to power and in rule of her empire, Catherine often relied on her noble favourite
Favourite
A favourite , or favorite , was the intimate companion of a ruler or other important person. In medieval and Early Modern Europe, among other times and places, the term is used of individuals delegated significant political power by a ruler...

s, most notably Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin.
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Quotations

I like to praise and reward loudly, to blame quietly.

As quoted in The Historians' History of the World (1904) by Henry Smith Williams, p. 423

I will live to make myself not feared.

As quoted in The Historians' History of the World (1904) by Henry Smith Williams, p. 423

Assuredly men of merit are never lacking at any time, for those are the men who manage affairs, and it is affairs that produce the men. I have never searched, and I have always found under my hand the men who have served me, and for the most part I have been well served.

As quoted in Woman Through the Ages;; (1908) by Emil Reich, p. 155

Your wit makes others witty.

Letter to Voltaire, as quoted in Short Sayings of Great Men : With Historical and Explanatory Notes (1882) by Samuel Arthur Bent, and Hoyt's New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations (1922) revised and enlarged by Kate Loise Roberts

A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.

As quoted in Daughters of Eve (1930) by Gamaliel Bradford, p. 192

Power without a nation's confidence is nothing.

As quoted in And I Quote : The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker (1992) by Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans, and Andrew Frothingham, p. 278

It is better to be subject to the Laws under one Master, than to be subservient to many.

Encyclopedia
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great , Empress of Russia, was born in Stettin
Szczecin
Szczecin , is the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea. As of June 2009 the population was 406,427....

, Pomerania, Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 on as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg. She was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from after a coup d'état and the assassination of her husband, Peter III
Peter III of Russia
Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

 (just after the end of the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

) until her death on . Catherine's rule re-vitalized Russia, which grew larger and stronger than ever and became recognized as one of the great power
Great power
A great power is a nation or state that has the ability to exert its influence on a global scale. Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength and diplomatic and cultural influence which may cause small powers to consider the opinions of great powers before taking actions...

s of Europe.

In both her accession to power and in rule of her empire, Catherine often relied on her noble favourite
Favourite
A favourite , or favorite , was the intimate companion of a ruler or other important person. In medieval and Early Modern Europe, among other times and places, the term is used of individuals delegated significant political power by a ruler...

s, most notably Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. Assisted by highly successful generals such as Pyotr Rumyantsev
Pyotr Rumyantsev
Count Pyotr Alexandrovich Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky was one of the foremost Russian generals of the 18th century. He governed Little Russia in the name of Empress Catherine the Great from the abolition of the Cossack Hetmanate in 1764 until Catherine's death 32 years later...

 and Alexander Suvorov
Alexander Suvorov
Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov , Count Suvorov of Rymnik, Prince in Italy, Count of the Holy Roman Empire , was the fourth and last generalissimo of the Russian Empire.One of the few great generals in history who never lost a battle along with the likes of Alexander...

, and admirals such as Fyodor Ushakov, she governed at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding rapidly by conquest and diplomacy. In the south, the Crimean Khanate
Crimean Khanate
Crimean Khanate, or Khanate of Crimea , was a state ruled by Crimean Tatars from 1441 to 1783. Its native name was . Its khans were the patrilineal descendants of Toqa Temür, the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan...

 was crushed following victories over the Ottomon Empire in the Russo-Turkish wars, and Russia colonised the vast territories of Novorossiya
Novorossiya
Novorossiya is a historic area of lands which established itself solidly after the annexation of the Crimean Khanate by the Russian Empire, but was introduced with the establishment of Novorossiysk Governorate with the capital in Kremenchuk in the mid 18th century. Until that time in both Polish...

 along the coasts of the Black
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and Azov Seas. In the west, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, ruled by Catherine's former lover, king Stanisław August Poniatowski was eventually partitioned
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

, with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east, Russia started to colonise
Russian colonization of the Americas
The Russian colonization of the Americas covers the period, from 1732 to 1867, when the Tsarist Imperial Russian Empire laid claim to northern Pacific Coast territories in the Americas...

 Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, establishing Russian America.

Catherine reformed the administration of Russian guberniya
Guberniya
A guberniya was a major administrative subdivision of the Russian Empire usually translated as government, governorate, or province. Such administrative division was preserved for sometime upon the collapse of the empire in 1917. A guberniya was ruled by a governor , a word borrowed from Latin ,...

s, and many new cities and towns were founded on her orders. An admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernize Russia along Western European lines. However, military conscription and economy continued to depend on serfdom, and the increasing demands of the state and private landowners led to increased levels of exploitation of serfs. This was one of the chief reasons behind several rebellions, including the large-scale Pugachev's Rebellion
Pugachev's Rebellion
Pugachev's Rebellion of 1774-75 was the principal revolt in a series of popular rebellions that took place in Russia after Catherine II seized power in 1762...

 of cossacks and peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

s.

The period of Catherine the Great's rule, the Catherinian Era, is often considered the Golden Age
Golden Age
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and then the present, a period of decline...

 of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and the Russian nobility
Russian nobility
The Russian nobility arose in the 14th century and essentially governed Russia until the October Revolution of 1917.The Russian word for nobility, Dvoryanstvo , derives from the Russian word dvor , meaning the Court of a prince or duke and later, of the tsar. A nobleman is called dvoryanin...

. The Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility, issued during the short reign of Peter III and confirmed by Catherine, freed Russian nobles from compulsory military or state service. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical
Classicism
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

 style endorsed by the Empress, changed the face of the country. A notable example of enlightened despot
Enlightened absolutism
Enlightened absolutism is a form of absolute monarchy or despotism in which rulers were influenced by the Enlightenment. Enlightened monarchs embraced the principles of the Enlightenment, especially its emphasis upon rationality, and applied them to their territories...

, a correspondent of Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 and an amateur opera librettist
Catherine II and opera
Catherine II the Great , Empress of Russia was not only an opera fan, a patroness of the arts, music and theatre, but also an opera librettist...

, Catherine presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment
Russian Enlightenment
The Russian Age of Enlightenment was a period in the eighteenth century in which the government began to actively encourage the proliferation of arts and sciences. This time gave birth to the first Russian university, library, theatre, public museum, and relatively independent press...

, when the Smolny Institute, the first state-financed higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 institution for women
Female education
Female education is a catch-all term for a complex of issues and debates surrounding education for females. It includes areas of gender equality and access to education, and its connection to the alleviation of poverty...

 in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, was established.

Early life



Catherine's father Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst was a German prince of the House of Ascania. He was a ruler of the Principality of Anhalt-Dornburg, then, from 1742, a ruler of the entire Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst...

 belonged to the ruling family
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

 of Anhalt
Anhalt
Anhalt was a sovereign county in Germany, located between the Harz Mountains and the river Elbe in Middle Germany. It now forms part of the state of Saxony-Anhalt.- Dukes of Anhalt :...

, but held the rank of a Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n general in his capacity as Governor of the city of Stettin ( Szczecin
Szczecin
Szczecin , is the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea. As of June 2009 the population was 406,427....

, Poland). Born as Sophia Augusta Fredericka in Stettin, Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

, two of her first cousins became Kings of Sweden: Gustav III
Gustav III of Sweden
Gustav III was King of Sweden from 1771 until his death. He was the eldest son of King Adolph Frederick and Queen Louise Ulrica of Sweden, she a sister of Frederick the Great of Prussia....

 and Charles XIII
Charles XIII of Sweden
Charles XIII & II also Carl, , was King of Sweden from 1809 and King of Norway from 1814 until his death...

. In accordance with the custom then prevailing in the ruling dynasties of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, she received her education chiefly from a French governess and from tutors. Catherine's childhood was quite uneventful. She herself once wrote to her correspondent Baron Grimm: "I see nothing of interest in it." although Catherine was born a princess, her family had very little money. This could account for her pronounced humdrum childhood. Catherine was to come to power based on her mother's relations to wealthy members of royalty.

The choice of Sophia as wife of her second cousin, the prospective tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Peter of Holstein-Gottorp
Peter III of Russia
Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

, resulted from some amount of diplomatic management in which Count Lestocq
Jean Armand de Lestocq
Count Jean Armand de L'Estocq was a French adventurer who wielded immense influence on the foreign policy of Russia during the early reign of Empress Elizabeth.Coming from a noble family of Champagne, as a youth he was committed to prison for a petty offense...

, Peter's aunt (the ruling Russian Empress Elizabeth), and Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

 took part. Lestocq and Frederick wanted to strengthen the friendship between Prussia and Russia in order to weaken Austria
Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

's influence and ruin the Russian chancellor Bestuzhev, on whom Empress Elizabeth relied, and who acted as a known partisan of Russo-Austrian co-operation. Catherine first met Peter III at the tender age of ten. Based on her writings, she found Peter detestable upon meeting him. She disliked his pale complexion and his fondness of alcohol at such a young age

The diplomatic intrigue failed, largely due to the intervention of Sophia's mother, Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp
Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst
Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst was a German prince of the House of Ascania. He was a ruler of the Principality of Anhalt-Dornburg, then, from 1742, a ruler of the entire Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst...

. Historical accounts portray her as a cold, abusive woman who loved gossip and court intrigues. Johanna's hunger for fame centered on her daughter's prospects of becoming empress of Russia, but she infuriated Empress Elizabeth, who eventually banned her from the country for spying for King Frederick of Prussia
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

. The empress knew the family well: she herself had intended to marry Princess Johanna's brother Charles Augustus (Karl August von Holstein), who had died of smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 in 1727 before the wedding could take place. Nonetheless, Elizabeth took a strong liking to the daughter, who on arrival in Russia spared no effort to ingratiate herself not only with the Empress Elizabeth, but with her husband and with the Russian people
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

. She applied herself to learning the Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 with such zeal that she rose at night and walked about her bedroom barefoot repeating her lessons (though she mastered the language, she retained an accent). This led to a severe attack of pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 in March 1744. When she wrote her memoir
Memoir
A memoir , is a literary genre, forming a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir set out below...

s, she said she made up her mind when she came to Russia to do whatever was necessary, and to profess to believe whatever was required of her, to become qualified to wear the crown.


Princess Sophia's father, a devout German Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, opposed his daughter's conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy. Despite his objection, on 28 June 1744 the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 received Princess Sophia as a member with the new name Catherine (Yekaterina or Ekaterina) and the (artificial) patronymic
Patronymic
A patronym, or patronymic, is a component of a personal name based on the name of one's father, grandfather or an even earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage.In many areas patronyms...

 Алексеевна (Alekseyevna, daughter of Aleksey). On the following day the formal betrothal took place. The long-planned dynastic marriage finally occurred on 21 August 1745 at Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

. Sophia had turned 16; her father did not travel to Russia for the wedding. The bridegroom, known then as Peter von Holstein-Gottorp, had become Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (located in the north-west of Germany near the border with Denmark) in 1739.

As she recalls herself in her memoirs, as soon as she arrived in Russia she fell ill with a pleuritis which almost killed her. She says she owes her survival to frequent bloodletting
Bloodletting
Bloodletting is the withdrawal of often little quantities of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors" the proper balance of which maintained health...

; in one single day she had four phlebotomies. Her mother, being opposed to this practice, fell into the Empress' disfavour. When her situation looked desperate, her mother wanted her confessed by a Lutheran priest; she however, awaking from her delirium
Delirium
Delirium or acute confusional state is a common and severe neuropsychiatric syndrome with core features of acute onset and fluctuating course, attentional deficits and generalized severe disorganization of behavior...

, said: "I don't want any Lutheran; I want my orthodox father." This raised her in the empress' estimation.

The newlyweds settled in the palace of Oranienbaum
Oranienbaum, Russia
Oranienbaum is a Russian royal residence, located on the Gulf of Finland west of St. Petersburg. The Palace ensemble and the city centre are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-History:...

, which remained the residence of the "young court" for many years to come.

Count Andrei Shuvalov, chamberlain to Catherine, knew the diarist James Boswell
James Boswell
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland; he is best known for the biography he wrote of one of his contemporaries, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson....

 well, and Boswell reports that Shuvalov shared private information regarding the monarch's intimate affairs. Some of these rumours included that Peter took a mistress (Elizabeth Vorontsova
Elizaveta Vorontsova
Elizaveta Romanovna Vorontsova was a mistress of Emperor Peter III of Russia. During their affair, Peter was rumored to have intentions of divorcing his wife Catherine to marry Vorontsova....

), while Catherine carried on liaisons with Sergei Saltykov
Serge Saltykov
Count Sergei Vasilievich Saltykov was a Russian officer who became the first lover of Empress Catherine the Great after her arrival to Russia....

, Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov
Orlov
Orlov is the name of a Russian noble family which produced several distinguished statesmen, diplomatists and soldiers. The family first gained distinction in the person of four Orlov brothers, of whom the senior was Catherine the Great's paramour, and the two junior were notable military...

 (1734–1783), Stanisław August Poniatowski, Alexander Vasilchikov
Alexander Vasilchikov
Alexander Vasilchikov was a Russian favourite and the lover of Catherine the Great from 1772 to 1774.Vasilchikov was an ensign in the Kavalergradskij regiment when he was noted by Catherine and was appointed her valet 1 August 1772...

, and others. She became friends with Princess Ekaterina Vorontsova-Dashkova
Yekaterina Romanovna Vorontsova-Dashkova
Princess Yekaterina Romanovna Vorontsova-Dashkova was the closest female friend of Empress Catherine the Great and a major figure of the Russian Enlightenment...

, the sister of her husband's mistress, who introduced her to several powerful political groups that opposed her husband. Peter III's temperament became quite unbearable for those who resided in the palace. He would announce trying drills in the morning to male servants who would later join Catherine in her room to sing and dance until late hours. Catherine became pregnant with her second child, Anna,who would only live to be four months old, in 1759. Due to various rumors of Catherine's promiscuity, Peter was led to believe that he was not the child's biological father and is known to have proclaimed, "Go to the devil!" when Catherine angrily dismissed his accusation. She thus spent much of this time alone in her own private boudoir to hide away from Peter's abrasive persona and his disapproved war tactics.


Of the period before her accession to the Russian throne, Catherine said: "Happiness and unhappiness are in the heart and spirit of each one of us: if you feel unhappy, then place yourself above that and act so that your happiness does not get to be dependent on anything.'"

The reign of Peter III and the coup d'état of July 1762


After the death of the Empress Elizabeth on 5 January 1762 (OS: 25 December 1761), Peter, the Grand Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, succeeded to the throne as Peter III of Russia
Peter III of Russia
Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

, and Catherine became Empress Consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 of Russia. The imperial couple moved into the new Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

 in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

.

The new tsar's eccentricities and policies, including a great admiration for the Prussian king, Frederick II
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

, alienated the same groups that Catherine had cultivated. Besides, Peter intervened in a dispute between his Duchy of Holstein
Holstein
Holstein is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider. It is part of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany....

 and Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 over the province of Schleswig (see Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff
Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff
Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff , Danish statesman, who came of a very ancient Mecklenburg family, was the son of Joachim Engelke von Bernstorff, Chamberlain to the elector of Hanover.-Early political career:...

).

Russia and Prussia fought each other during the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 (1756–1763) until Peter's accession. Peter's insistence on supporting Frederick II of Prussia, who had seen Berlin occupied by Russian troops in 1760 but now suggested partitioning Polish territories
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

 with Russia, eroded much of his support among the nobility.

In July 1762, barely six months after becoming the Tsar, Peter committed the political error of retiring with his Holstein-born courtiers and relatives to Oranienbaum
Oranienbaum, Russia
Oranienbaum is a Russian royal residence, located on the Gulf of Finland west of St. Petersburg. The Palace ensemble and the city centre are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-History:...

, leaving his wife in Saint Petersburg. On 8 and 9 July the Leib Guard revolted, deposed Peter from power, and proclaimed Catherine the Empress of Russia. The bloodless coup
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 succeeded.

On 17 July 1762—eight days after the coup and just six months after his accession to the throne—Peter III died at Ropsha
Ropsha
Ropsha is a settlement in Leningrad Oblast, Russia, situated about 20 km south of Peterhof and 49 km south-west of central Saint Petersburg, at an elevation of 80 metres to 130 metres above sea level.-History:...

, at the hands of Alexei Orlov
Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov
Count Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov was a Russian soldier and statesman, who rose to prominence during the reign of Catherine the Great.Orlov served in the Imperial Russian Army, and through his connections with his brother, became one of the key conspirators in the plot to overthrow Tsar Peter III...

 (younger brother to Gregory Orlov
Orlov
Orlov is the name of a Russian noble family which produced several distinguished statesmen, diplomatists and soldiers. The family first gained distinction in the person of four Orlov brothers, of whom the senior was Catherine the Great's paramour, and the two junior were notable military...

, then a court favorite and a participant in the coup). Historians find no evidence for Catherine's complicity in the supposed assassination. Other potential rival claimants to the throne existed: Ivan VI
Ivan VI of Russia
Ivan VI Antonovich of Russia , was proclaimed Emperor of Russia in 1740, as an infant, although he never actually reigned. Within less than a year, he was overthrown by the Empress Elizabeth of Russia, Peter the Great's daughter...

 (1740–1764), in closed confinement at Schlüsselburg
Shlisselburg
Shlisselburg is a town in Leningrad Oblast, Russia, situated at the head of the Neva River on Lake Ladoga, east of St. Petersburg. From 1944 to 1992, it was known as Petrokrepost...

, in Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga is a freshwater lake located in the Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast in northwestern Russia, not far from Saint Petersburg. It is the largest lake in Europe, and the 14th largest lake by area in the world.-Geography:...

, from the age of 6 months; and Princess Tarakanova
Yelizaveta Alekseyevna Tarakanova
Yelizaveta Alekseyevna , in later centuries known as Tarakanova or Tarakanoff, was a pretender to the Russian throne. She styled herself, among other names, Knyaginya Vladimirskaya , princess Elisabeth Alexeievna, Fräulein Frank, and Madame Trémouille...

 (1753–1775).

Catherine, although not descended from any previous Russian emperor, succeeded her husband as Empress Regnant
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

. She followed the precedent established when Catherine I
Catherine I of Russia
Catherine I , the second wife of Peter the Great, reigned as Empress of Russia from 1725 until her death.-Life as a peasant woman:The life of Catherine I was said by Voltaire to be nearly as extraordinary as that of Peter the Great himself. There are no documents that confirm her origins. Born on...

 (born in the lower classes
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 in the Swedish East Baltic territories) succeeded her husband Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 in 1725.

Legitimists debate Catherine's technical status, seeing her as a Regent or as an usurper
Usurper
Usurper is a derogatory term used to describe either an illegitimate or controversial claimant to the power; often, but not always in a monarchy, or a person who succeeds in establishing himself as a monarch without inheriting the throne, or any other person exercising authority unconstitutionally...

, tolerable only during the minority of her son, Grand Duke Paul
Paul I of Russia
Paul I was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta .-Childhood:...

. In the 1770s a group of nobles connected with Paul (Nikita Panin
Nikita Ivanovich Panin
Count Nikita Ivanovich Panin was an influential Russian statesman and political mentor to Catherine the Great for the first eighteen years of her reign. In that role he advocated the Northern Alliance, closer ties with Frederick the Great of Prussia and the establishment of an advisory privy...

 and others) considered a new coup to depose Catherine and transfer the crown to Paul, whose power they envisaged restricting in a kind of constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

. However, nothing came of this, and Catherine reigned until her death.

Reign (1762–1796)



Foreign affairs


During her reign Catherine extended the borders of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 southward and westward to absorb New Russia
Novorossiya
Novorossiya is a historic area of lands which established itself solidly after the annexation of the Crimean Khanate by the Russian Empire, but was introduced with the establishment of Novorossiysk Governorate with the capital in Kremenchuk in the mid 18th century. Until that time in both Polish...

, Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

, Northern Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, Right-Bank Ukraine
Right-bank Ukraine
Right-bank Ukraine , a historical name of a part of Ukraine on the right bank of the Dnieper River, corresponding with modern-day oblasts of Volyn, Rivne, Vinnitsa, Zhytomyr, Kirovohrad and Kiev, as well as part of Cherkasy and Ternopil...

, Belarus, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, and Courland
Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

 at the expense, mainly, of two powers – the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. All told, she added some 200000 square miles (517,997.6 km²) to Russian territory.

Catherine's foreign minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

, Nikita Panin
Nikita Ivanovich Panin
Count Nikita Ivanovich Panin was an influential Russian statesman and political mentor to Catherine the Great for the first eighteen years of her reign. In that role he advocated the Northern Alliance, closer ties with Frederick the Great of Prussia and the establishment of an advisory privy...

 (in office 1763–81), exercised considerable influence from the beginning of her reign. A shrewd statesman, Panin dedicated much effort and millions of rubles
Russian ruble
The ruble or rouble is the currency of the Russian Federation and the two partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Formerly, the ruble was also the currency of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union prior to their breakups. Belarus and Transnistria also use currencies with...

 to setting up a "Northern Accord" between Russia, Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

, Poland, and Sweden, to counter the power of the Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

–Habsburg League. When it became apparent that his plan could not succeed, Panin fell out of favor and Catherine had him replaced with Ivan Osterman
Ivan Osterman
Count Ivan Andreyevich Osterman was a Russian statesman, son of Andrei Osterman.After Osterman's father had fallen into disgrace, he was transferred from the Imperial Guards to the regular army and then sent abroad, where he would continue his education. In 1757, Osterman was in the Russian...

 (in office 1781–97).

Catherine agreed to a commercial treaty
Commercial treaty
A Commercial treaty is a formal agreement between states for the purpose of establishing mutual rights and regulating conditions of trade.For example, the Methuen Treaty was a commercial treaty between Portugal and England....

 with Great Britain in 1766, but stopped short of a full military alliance. Although she could see the benefits of Britain's friendship, she was wary of Britain's increased power following its victory in the Seven Years War
Great Britain in the Seven Years War
The Kingdom of Great Britain was one of the major participants in the Seven Years' War which lasted between 1756 and 1763. Britain emerged from the war as the world's leading colonial power having gained a number of new territories at the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and established itself as the...

, which threatened the European balance of power
European balance of power
The Balance of Power in Europe is an international relations concept that applies historically and currently to the nations of Europe...

.

Russo-Turkish Wars



While Peter the Great had succeeded only in gaining a toehold in the south on the edge of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 in the Azov campaigns
Azov campaigns
Azov campaigns of 1695–96 , two Russian military campaigns during the Russo-Turkish War of 1686–1700, led by Peter the Great and aimed at capturing the Turkish fortress of Azov , which had been blocking Russia's access to the Azov Sea and the Black Sea...

, Catherine completed the conquest of the south. Catherine made Russia the dominant power in south-eastern Europe
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 after her first Russo-Turkish War against the Ottoman Empire (1768–74), which saw some of the heaviest defeats in Turkish history, including the Battle of Chesma
Battle of Chesma
The naval Battle of Chesma took place on 5 -7 July 1770 near and in Çeşme Bay, in the area between the western tip of Anatolia and the island of Chios, which was the site of a number of past naval battles between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice...

 (5–7 July 1770) and the Battle of Kagul
Battle of Kagul
The Battle of Cahul was the most important land battle of the Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774 and one of the largest battles of the 18th century...

 (21 July 1770).

The Russian victories allowed Catherine's government to obtain access to the Black Sea and to incorporate present-day southern Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, where the Russians founded the new cities of Odessa
Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

, Nikolayev
Mykolaiv
Mykolaiv , also known as Nikolayev , is a city in southern Ukraine, administrative center of the Mykolaiv Oblast. Mykolaiv is the main ship building center of the Black Sea, and, arguably, the whole Eastern Europe.-Name of city:...

, Yekaterinoslav (literally: "the Glory of Catherine"; the future Dnepropetrovsk
Dnipropetrovsk
Dnipropetrovsk or Dnepropetrovsk formerly Yekaterinoslav is Ukraine's third largest city with one million inhabitants. It is located southeast of Ukraine's capital Kiev on the Dnieper River, in the south-central region of the country...

), and Kherson
Kherson
Kherson is a city in southern Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Kherson Oblast , and is designated as its own separate raion within the oblast. Kherson is an important port on the Black Sea and Dnieper River, and the home of a major ship-building industry...

. The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca
Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca
The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca was signed on 21 July 1774, in Küçük Kaynarca , Dobruja between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire after the Ottoman Empire was defeated in the...

, signed 10 July 1774, gave the Russians territories at Azov
Azov
-External links:** *...

, Kerch
Kerch
Kerch is a city on the Kerch Peninsula of eastern Crimea, an important industrial, transport and tourist centre of Ukraine. Kerch, founded 2600 years ago, is considered as one of the most ancient cities in Ukraine.-Ancient times:...

, Yenikale, Kinburn, and the small strip of Black Sea coast between the rivers Dnieper
Dnieper River
The Dnieper River is one of the major rivers of Europe that flows from Russia, through Belarus and Ukraine, to the Black Sea.The total length is and has a drainage basin of .The river is noted for its dams and hydroelectric stations...

 and Bug
Southern Bug
The Southern Bug, also called Southern Buh), is a river located in Ukraine. The source of the river is in the west of Ukraine, in the Volyn-Podillia Upland, about 145 km from the Polish border, and flows southeasterly into the Bug Estuary through the southern steppes...

. The treaty also removed restrictions on Russian naval or commercial traffic in the Azov Sea, granted to Russia the position of protector of Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire, and made the Crimea a protectorate of Russia.

Catherine annexed
Annexation
Annexation is the de jure incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity . Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size...

 the Crimea in 1783, nine years after the Crimean Khanate
Crimean Khanate
Crimean Khanate, or Khanate of Crimea , was a state ruled by Crimean Tatars from 1441 to 1783. Its native name was . Its khans were the patrilineal descendants of Toqa Temür, the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan...

 had gained nominal independence—which had been guaranteed by Russia—from the Ottoman Empire as a result of her first war against the Turks. The palace of the Crimean khans passed into the hands of the Russians. In 1786 Catherine conducted a triumphal procession in the Crimea, which helped provoke the next Russo–Turkish War.

The Ottomans re-started hostilities in the second Russo-Turkish War (1787–92). This war, catastrophic for the Ottomans, ended with the Treaty of Jassy
Treaty of Jassy
The Treaty of Jassy, signed at Jassy in Moldavia , was a pact between the Russian and Ottoman Empires ending the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–92 and confirming Russia's increasing dominance in the Black Sea....

 (1792), which legitimized the Russian claim to the Crimea and granted the Yedisan
Yedisan
Yedisan is a historical region in modern southwestern Ukraine and southeastern Moldova . The region lies to the north of the Black Sea between the Dniester and Dnieper rivers...

 region to Russia.

Relations with Western Europe



Catherine longed for recognition as an enlightened sovereign. She pioneered for Russia the role that Britain later played through most of the nineteenth and early twentieth century as an international mediator in disputes that could, or did, lead to war. She acted as mediator in the War of the Bavarian Succession (1778–79) between the German states of Prussia and Austria. In 1780 she established a League of Armed Neutrality
First League of Armed Neutrality
The first League of Armed Neutrality was an alliance of European naval powers between 1780 and 1783 which was intended to protect neutral shipping against the British Royal Navy's wartime policy of unlimited search of neutral shipping for French contraband...

, designed to defend neutral shipping from the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 during the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

.

From 1788 to 1790 Russia fought in the Russo-Swedish War against Sweden, a conflict instigated by Catherine's cousin, King Gustav III of Sweden
Gustav III of Sweden
Gustav III was King of Sweden from 1771 until his death. He was the eldest son of King Adolph Frederick and Queen Louise Ulrica of Sweden, she a sister of Frederick the Great of Prussia....

, who expected to simply overtake the Russian armies still engaged in war against the Ottoman Turks and hoped to strike Saint Petersburg directly. But Russia's Baltic Fleet
Baltic Fleet
The Twice Red Banner Baltic Fleet - is the Russian Navy's presence in the Baltic Sea. In previous historical periods, it has been part of the navy of Imperial Russia and later the Soviet Union. The Fleet gained the 'Twice Red Banner' appellation during the Soviet period, indicating two awards of...

 checked the Royal Swedish navy in a tied battle off Hogland
Battle of Hogland
The naval Battle of Hogland took place on 17 July 1788 during the Russo-Swedish War .-Origins:On the outbreak of war with Russia in 1788, Sweden planned to attack the Russian capital St. Petersburg...

 (July 1788), and the Swedish army failed to advance. Denmark declared war on Sweden in 1788 (the Theater War
Theater War
The Theater War , alias Cowberry War , was a brief war between Denmark–Norway and Sweden, starting on 24 September 1788, formally lasting until 9 July 1789...

). After the decisive defeat of the Russian fleet at the Battle of Svensksund
Battle of Svensksund
The Battle of Svensksund was a naval battle fought in the Gulf of Finland outside the present day city of Kotka on 9 July 1790. The Swedish naval forces dealt the Russian fleet a devastating defeat that resulted in an end to the Russo-Swedish War of 1788–90...

 in 1790, the parties signed the Treaty of Värälä
Treaty of Värälä
The Treaty of Värälä was a treaty signed in Värälä, Elimäki Municipality, Finland, between Russia and Sweden . It was signed on August 14, 1790 and concluded the Russo-Swedish War...

 (14 August 1790), returning all conquered territories to their respective owners and confirming the Treaty of Åbo
Treaty of Åbo
The Treaty of Åbo or the Treaty of Turku was a peace treaty signed between the Russian Empire and Sweden in Turku on 7. Augustjul./ 18. Augustgreg...

. Peace ensued for 20 years, aided by the assassination of Gustav III in 1792.

The partitions of Poland


In 1764 Catherine placed Stanisław Poniatowski, her former lover, on the Polish throne. Although the idea of partitioning Poland came from the King Frederick II of Prussia, Catherine took a leading role in carrying it out in the 1790s. In 1768 she formally became protector of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which provoked an anti-Russian uprising in Poland, the Confederation of Bar
Bar Confederation
The Bar Confederation was an association of Polish nobles formed at the fortress of Bar in Podolia in 1768 to defend the internal and external independence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against Russian influence and against King Stanisław August Poniatowski and Polish reformers who were...

 (1768–72). After smashing the uprising she established in the Rzeczpospolita a system of government fully controlled by the Russian Empire through a Permanent Council
Permanent Council
The Permanent Council was the highest administrative authority in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between 1775 and 1789 and the first modern government in Europe...

 under the supervision of her ambassadors and envoys
Ambassadors and envoys from Russia to Poland (1763–1794)
Ambassadors and envoys from Russia to Poland-Lithuania in the years 1763-1794 were among the most important characters in the politics of Poland. Their powers went far beyond the those of most diplomats and can be compared to those of viceroys in the colonies of Spanish Empire, or Roman Republic's...

.

After the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 of 1789, Catherine rejected many principles of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 that she had once viewed favorably. Afraid that the May Constitution of Poland (1791) might lead to a resurgence in the power of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and that the growing democratic movements inside the Commonwealth might become a threat to the European monarchies, Catherine decided to intervene in Poland. She provided support to a Polish anti-reform group known as the Targowica Confederation
Targowica Confederation
The Targowica Confederation was a confederation established by Polish and Lithuanian magnates on 27 April 1792, in Saint Petersburg, with the backing of the Russian Empress Catherine II. The confederation opposed the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791, which had been adopted by the Great Sejm,...

. After defeating Polish loyalist forces in the Polish–Russian War of 1792 and in the Kościuszko Uprising
Kosciuszko Uprising
The Kościuszko Uprising was an uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia led by Tadeusz Kościuszko in Poland, Belarus and Lithuania in 1794...

 (1794), Russia completed the partitioning of Poland, dividing all of the remaining Commonwealth territory with Prussia and Austria (1795).

Relations with Japan


In the Far East, Russians became active in fur trapping in Kamchatka
Kamchatka Peninsula
The Kamchatka Peninsula is a peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of . It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west...

 and in the Kuril Islands
Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands , in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast region, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately northeast from Hokkaidō, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many more minor rocks. It consists of Greater...

. This spurred Russian interest in opening trade with Japan to the south for supplies and food. In 1783 storms drove a Japanese sea captain, Daikokuya Kōdayū
Daikokuya Kōdayū
was a Japanese castaway who spent eleven years in Russia.His ship landed at Amchitka, Aleutian Islands. They managed to escape to the Russian mainland and had Catherine the Great allow them to go back to Japan by Kirill Laxman's effort with Alexander Bezborodko and Alexander Vorontsov...

, ashore in the Aleutian Islands, at that time Russian territory. Russian local authorities helped his party, and the Russian government decided to use him as a trade envoy. On 28 June 1791, Catherine granted Kōdayū an audience at Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family and visiting nobility, located south from the center of St. Petersburg. It is now part of the town of Pushkin and of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.-History:In...

. Subsequently, in 1792, the Russian government dispatched a trade mission to Japan, led by Adam Laxman. The Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 received the mission, but negotiations failed.

Banking and finance


In 1768 the Assignation Bank was tasked with issuing the first government paper money. It opened in St. Petersburg and in Moscow in 1769. Several bank branches were afterwards established in other towns, called government towns. Paper notes were issued upon payment of similar sums in copper money, which were also refunded upon the presentation of those notes.

The emergence of these Assignation rubles was necessary due to large government spending on military needs, which led to a shortage of silver in the treasury (transactions, especially in foreign trade, were conducted almost exclusively in silver and gold coins). Assignation rubles circulated on equal footing with the silver ruble; there was an ongoing market exchange rate for these two currencies. The use of these notes continued until 1849.

Arts and culture



Catherine had a reputation as a patron of the arts, literature, and education. The Hermitage Museum
Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display,...

, which occupies the whole Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

, began as Catherine's personal collection. At the instigation of her factotum, Ivan Betskoy
Ivan Betskoy
Ivan Ivanovich Betskoi or Betskoy was a Russian school reformer who served as Catherine II's advisor on education and President of the Imperial Academy of Arts for thirty years...

, she wrote a manual for the education of young children, drawing from the ideas of John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, and founded (1764) the famous Smolny Institute, which admitted young girls of the nobility.

She wrote comedies, fiction, and memoirs, while cultivating Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

, and d'Alembert
Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie...

—all French encyclopedists who later cemented her reputation in their writings. The leading economists of her day, such as Arthur Young and Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker was a French statesman of Swiss birth and finance minister of Louis XVI, a post he held in the lead-up to the French Revolution in 1789.-Early life:...

, became foreign members of the Free Economic Society
Free Economic Society
Free Economic Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture and Husbandry was Russia's first learned society which formally did not depend on the government and as such came to be regarded as a bulwark of Russian liberalism.-18th century:...

, established on her suggestion in Saint Petersburg in 1765. She lured the scientists Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion...

 and Peter Simon Pallas
Peter Simon Pallas
Peter Simon Pallas was a German zoologist and botanist who worked in Russia.- Life and work :Pallas was born in Berlin, the son of Professor of Surgery Simon Pallas. He studied with private tutors and took an interest in natural history, later attending the University of Halle and the University...

 from Berlin and Anders Johan Lexell
Anders Johan Lexell
Anders Johan Lexell was a Swedish-born Russian astronomer, mathematician, and physicist who spent most of his life in Russia where he is known as Andrei Ivanovich Leksel .Lexell made important discoveries in polygonometry and celestial mechanics; the latter led to a comet named in...

 from Sweden to the Russian capital.

Catherine enlisted Voltaire to her cause, and corresponded with him for 15 years, from her accession to his death in 1778. He lauded her accomplishments, calling her "The Star of the North" and the "Semiramis
Semiramis
The real and historical Shammuramat , was the Assyrian queen of Shamshi-Adad V , King of Assyria and ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and its regent for four years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age....

 of Russia" (in reference to the legendary Queen of Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, a subject on which he published a tragedy in 1768). Though she never met him face to face, she mourned him bitterly when he died. She acquired his collection of books from his heirs, and placed them in the National Library of Russia.

Within a few months of her accession in 1762, having heard that the French government threatened to stop the publication of the famous French Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert...

on account of its irreligious spirit, Catherine proposed to Diderot that he should complete his great work in Russia under her protection.

Four years later, in 1766, she endeavored to embody in legislation the principles of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 she learned from studying the French philosophers. She called together at Moscow a Grand Commission—almost a consultative parliament—composed of 652 members of all classes (officials, nobles, burghers
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 and peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

s) and of various nationalities. The Commission had to consider the needs of the Russian Empire and the means of satisfying them. The Empress herself prepared the "Instructions for the Guidance of the Assembly"
Nakaz
Nakaz, or Instruction, of Catherine the Great was a statement of legal principles authored by Catherine II of Russia, and permeated with the ideas of the French Enlightenment. It was compiled as a guide for the All-Russian Legislative Commission convened in 1767 for the purpose of replacing the...

, pillaging (as she frankly admitted) the philosophers of Western Europe, especially Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

 and Cesare Beccaria
Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria
Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria-Bonesana was an Italian jurist, philosopher and politician best known for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments , which condemned torture and the death penalty, and was a founding work in the field of penology.-Birth and education:Beccaria was born in Milan on March...

.

As many of the democratic principles frightened her more moderate and experienced advisers, she refrained from immediately putting them into execution. After holding more than 200 sittings the so-called Commission dissolved without getting beyond the realm of theory.


In spite of this, Catherine began issuing codes to address some of the modernization trends suggested in her Nakaz. In 1775 the Empress decreed a Statute for the Administration of the Provinces of the Russian Empire. The Statute sought to efficiently govern Russia by increasing population and dividing the country into provinces and districts. By the end of her reign, there were fifty provinces, nearly 500 districts, more than double the government officials, and they were spending six times as much as previously on local government. In 1785 Catherine conferred on the nobility the Charter to the Nobility, increasing further the power of the landed oligarchs. Nobles in each district elected a Marshal of the Nobility who spoke on their behalf to the monarch on issues of concern to them, mainly economic ones. In the same year, Catherine issued the Charter of the Towns, which distributed all people into six groups as a way to limit the power of nobles and create a middle estate. Catherine also issued the Code of Commercial Navigation and Salt Trade Code of 1781, the Police Ordnance of 1782, and the Statue of National Education of 1786. In 1777, the Empress described to Voltaire her legal innovations within a backward Russia as progressing "little by little".

During Catherine's reign, Russians imported and studied the classical and European influences that inspired the Russian Enlightenment
Russian Enlightenment
The Russian Age of Enlightenment was a period in the eighteenth century in which the government began to actively encourage the proliferation of arts and sciences. This time gave birth to the first Russian university, library, theatre, public museum, and relatively independent press...

. Gavrila Derzhavin, Denis Fonvizin
Denis Fonvizin
Denis Ivanovich Fonvizin was a playwright of the Russian Enlightenment, whose plays are still staged today. His main works are two satirical comedies which mock contemporary Russian gentry.-Life:...

, and Ippolit Bogdanovich
Ippolit Bogdanovich
Ippolit Fyodorovich Bogdanovich was a Russian classicist author of light poetry, best known for his long poem Dushenka .- Biography :...

 laid the groundwork for the great writers of the nineteenth century, especially for Alexander Pushkin. Catherine became a great patron of Russian opera
Russian opera
Russian opera is the art of opera in Russia. Operas by composers of Russian origin, written or staged outside of Russia, also belong to this category, as well as the operas of foreign composers written or intended for the Russian scene. These are not only Russian-language operas...

 (see Catherine II and opera
Catherine II and opera
Catherine II the Great , Empress of Russia was not only an opera fan, a patroness of the arts, music and theatre, but also an opera librettist...

 for details).

When Alexander Radishchev
Alexander Radishchev
Alexander Nikolayevich Radishchev was a Russian author and social critic who was arrested and exiled under Catherine the Great. He brought the tradition of radicalism in Russian literature to prominence with the publication in 1790 of his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow...

 published his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow
Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow
The Journey From St. Petersburg to Moscow , published in 1790, was the most famous work by the Russian writer Aleksandr Nikolayevich Radishchev....

in 1790 (one year after the start of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

) and warned of uprisings because of the deplorable social conditions of the peasants held as serfs
Serfdom
Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

, Catherine exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

d him to Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

.

Education



Catherine held western European philosophies and culture close to her heart and she wanted to surround herself with like-minded people within Russia. She believed a 'new kind of person' could be created by inoculating Russian children with European education. Catherine believed education could change the hearts and minds of the Russian people and turn them away from backwardness. This meant developing individuals both intellectually and morally, providing them knowledge and skills, and fostering a sense of civic responsibility.

Catherine appointed Ivan Betskoy as her adviser on educational matters. Through him, she collected information from Russia and other countries about educational institutions. She also established a commission composed of T.N. Teplov, T. con Klingstedt, F.G. Dilthey, and the historian G. Muller. She consulted British education pioneers, particularly Rev. Daniel Dumaresq and Dr. John Brown. In 1764 Catherine sent for Dumaresq to come to Russia and then appointed him to the educational Commission. The Commission studied the reform projects previously installed by I.I. Shuvalov under Elizabeth and under Peter III. They submitted recommendations for the establishment of a general system of education for all Russian orthodox subjects from the age of 5 to 18, excluding serfs. However, no action was taken on any recommendations put forth by the Commission due to the calling of the Legislative Commission. In July 1765 Dumaresq wrote to Dr. John Brown about the commission’s problems and received a long reply containing very general and sweeping suggestions for education and social reforms in Russia. Dr. Brown argued that in a democratic country, education ought to be under the state’s control and based on an education code. He also placed great emphasis on the "proper and effectual education of the female sex"; two years prior, Catherine had commissioned Ivan Betskoy to draw up the General Program for the Education of Young People of Both Sexes. This work emphasized the fostering of the creation of a 'new kind of people' raised in isolation from the damaging influence of a backward Russian environment. The Establishment of the Moscow Foundling Home (Moscow Orphanage) was the first attempt at achieving that goal. It was charged with admitting destitute and extramarital children in order to educate them in any way the state deemed fit. Since the Moscow Foundling Home was not established as a state funded institution, the Home represented an opportunity to experiment with new educational theories. However, the Moscow Foundling Home was unsuccessful, mainly due to extremely high mortality rates, which prevented many of the children from living long enough to develop into the enlightened subjects the state desired.

Not long after the Moscow Foundling Home, Catherine established the Smolny Institute for Noble Girls to educate females. The Smolny Institute was the first of its kind in Russia. At first the Institute only admitted young girls of the noble elite, but eventually it began to admit girls of the petit-bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 as well. The girls that attended the Smolny Institute, Smolyanki, were often accused of being ignorant of anything that went on in the world outside the walls of the Smolny buildings. Within the walls of the Institute they were taught impeccable French, musicianship, dancing, and complete awe of the Monarch. At the Institute, enforcement of strict discipline was central to its philosophy. Running and games were forbidden and the building was kept particularly cold because it was believed that too much warmth was harmful to the developing body, as was excess play.

During the years 1768–1774, there was no progress made in setting up a national school system. Catherine continued to investigate educational theory and practice of other countries. She made many educational reforms despite the lack of a national school system. The remodeling of the Cadet Corps 1766 initiated many educational reforms. It then began to take children from a very young age and educate them until the age of 21. The curriculum was broadened from the professional military curriculum to include the sciences, philosophy, ethics, history, and international law. This policy in the Cadet Corps influenced the teaching in the Naval Cadet Corps and in the Engineering and Artillery Schools. After the war and the defeat of Pugachov, Catherine laid the obligation to establish schools at the guberniya—a provincial subdivision of the Russian empire ruled by a governor—on the Boards of Social Welfare set up with the participation of elected representatives from the three free estates.

By 1782 Catherine arranged another advisory commission to study the information gathered about the educational systems of many different countries. A system produced by a mathematician, F Aepinus, stood out in particular. He was strongly in favor of the adoption of the Austrian three-tier model of trivial, real, and normal schools at village, town, and provincial capital level. In addition to the advisory commission, Catherine established a Commission of National Schools under P.I. Zavadovsky. This commission was charged with organizing a national school network, training the teachers, and providing the textbooks. On 5 August 1786, the Russian Statute of National Education was promulgated. The Statute established a two-tier network of high schools and primary schools in guberniya capitals that were free of charge, open to all of the free classes (non-serfs), and co-educational. It also regulated, in detail, the subjects to be taught at every age and the method of teaching. In addition to the textbooks translated by the Commission, teachers were provided with the Guide to Teachers. This work, divided into four parts, dealt with teaching methods, the subjects taught, the behavior of the teacher, and the running of a school.

Judgment of the 19th century was generally critical, claiming that Catherine failed to supply enough money to support her educational program. Two years after the implementation of Catherine’s program, a member of the National Commission inspected the institutions established. Throughout Russia, the inspectors encountered a patchy response. While the nobility put up appreciable amounts of money for these institutions, they preferred to send their children to private, more prestigious institutions. Also, the townspeople tended to turn against the junior schools and their pedagogical methods. It is estimated that about 62,000 pupils were being educated in some 549 state institutions near the end of Catherine’s reign. This was only a minuscule number of people compared to the size of the Russian population.

Religious affairs



Catherine's apparent whole-hearted adoption of all things Russian (including Orthodoxy
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

) may have prompted her personal indifference to religion. She did not allow dissenters to build chapels, and she suppressed religious dissent after the onset of the French Revolution.
Politically, Catherine exploited Christianity in her anti-Ottoman policy, promoting the protection and fostering of Christians under Turkish rule. She placed strictures on Roman Catholics (ukaz
Ukase
A ukase , in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader that had the force of law...

of 23 February 1769), mainly Polish, and attempted to assert and extend state control over them in the wake of the partitions of Poland. Nevertheless, Catherine's Russia provided an asylum and a base for re-grouping to the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 following the suppression of the Jesuits in most of Europe in 1773.

Islam


Catherine took many different approaches to Islam during her reign. Between 1762 and 1773, Muslims were actively prohibited from owning any Orthodox serfs. They were also pressured into Orthodoxy through monetary incentives. Catherine promised more serfs of all religions, as well as amnesty for convicts, if Muslims chose to convert to Orthodoxy. However, the Legislative Commission of 1767 offered several seats to people professing the Islamic faith. This Commission promised to protect their religious rights, but did not do so. Many Orthodox peasants felt threatened by the sudden change, and burned mosques as a sign of their displeasure. Catherine chose to assimilate Islam into the state rather than eliminate it when public outcry against equality got too disruptive. After the "Toleration of All Faiths" Edict of 1773, Muslims were permitted to build mosques and practice all of their traditions, the most obvious of these being the pilgrimage to Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, which had been denied previously. Catherine created the Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly
Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly
The Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly was an state-controlled religious administration in Imperial Russia that had jurisdiction over certain aspects of Islamic activity in Siberia, the Volga-Ural region, and parts of Central Asia, including the Kazakh steppe...

 to help regulate Muslim-populated regions, as well as regulate the instruction and ideals of Mullahs. The positions on the Assembly were appointed and paid for by Catherine and her government, as a way of regulating the religious affairs of her nation.

In 1785 Catherine approved the subsidization of new mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s and new town settlements for Muslims. This was another attempt to organize and passively control the outer fringes of her country. By building new settlements with mosques placed in them, Catherine attempted to ground many of the nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic people that wandered through southern Russia. In 1786 Catherine assimilated the Islamic schools into the Russian public school system, to be regulated by the government. The plan was another attempt to force nomadic people to settle. This allowed the Russian government to control more people, especially those who previously had not fallen under the jurisdiction of Russian law.

Judaism



Russia often treated Judaism as a separate entity, where Jews were maintained with a separate legal and bureaucratic system. Although the government knew that Judaism existed, Catherine and her advisers had no real definition of "Jew", since the term meant many things during her reign. Judaism was a small, if not nonexistent, religion in Russia until 1772. When Catherine agreed to the First Partition of Poland
First Partition of Poland
The First Partition of Poland or First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in 1772 as the first of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. Growth in the Russian Empire's power, threatening the Kingdom of Prussia and the...

, Jews were treated as a separate people, defined by their religion. In keeping with their treatment in Poland, Catherine allowed the Jews to separate themselves from Orthodox society, with certain restrictions. She levied taxes only on the followers of Judaism; if a family converted to the Russian faith, that tax was lifted. Jewish members of society were required to pay double the tax of their Orthodox neighbors. Converted Jews could gain permission to enter the merchant class and farm as free peasants under Russian rule.

In an attempt to assimilate the Jews into Russia’s economy, Catherine included them under the rights and laws of the Charter of the Towns of 1782. While this presented some benefits for Jews—they received recognition as equals to any Orthodox citizen—many people attempted to take advantage of this equality. Orthodox Russians disliked the inclusion of Judaism, mainly for economic reasons; many Jews were bankers and merchants. Catherine tried to keep the Jews away from certain economic spheres, even with a ruse of equality; in 1790, she banned Jewish citizens from Moscow’s middle class.

In 1785 Catherine declared that Jews were officially foreigners, with foreigners’ rights. This reestablished the separate identity that Judaism maintained in Russia throughout the Jewish period of failed assimilation. Catherine’s decree also denied Jews the rights of an Orthodox or naturalized citizen of Russia. Taxes doubled again for those of Jewish descent in 1794, and Catherine officially declared that Jews bore no relation to Russians.

Russian Orthodoxy



In many ways, the Orthodox Church fared no better than its foreign counterparts during the reign of Catherine. Under her leadership, she completed what Peter III
Peter III of Russia
Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

 had started; the church’s lands were appropriated, and the budget of both monasteries and bishoprics were controlled by the College of Economy. Endowments from the government replaced income from privately held lands. The endowments were often much less than the original intended amount. She closed 569 out of 954 monasteries and only 161 got government money. Only 400,000 rubles of church wealth was paid back. While other religions (such as Islam) received invitations to the Legislative Commission, the Orthodox clergy did not receive a single seat. Their place in government was restricted severely during the years of Catherine's reign.

In 1762, to help mend the rift between the Orthodox church and a sect that called themselves the Old Believers
Old Believers
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

, Catherine passed an act that allowed Old Believers to openly practice their faith without interference. While claiming religious tolerance, she intended to recall the believers into the official church. They refused to comply, and in 1764 Catherine deported over 20,000 Old Believers to Siberia on the grounds of their faith. In later years, Catherine amended her thoughts. Old Believers were allowed to hold elected municipal positions after the Urban Charter of 1785, and she promised religious freedom to those who wished to settle in Russia.

Religious education was also strictly reviewed. At first, she simply attempted to revise clerical studies, proposing a reform of religious schools. This reform never progressed beyond the planning stages. By 1786 Catherine excluded all religion and clerical studies programs from lay education. By separating the public interests from those of the church, Catherine began a secularization of the day-to-day workings of Russia. She transformed the clergy from a group that wielded great power over the Russian government and its people to a segregated community forced to depend on the state for compensation.

Personal life



Catherine, throughout her long reign, took many lovers, often elevating them to high positions for as long as they held her interest, and then pensioning them off with gifts of serfs and large estates. The percentage of state money spent on the court increased from 10.4% in 1767 to 11.4% in 1781 to 13.5% in 1795. Catherine gave away 66,000 serfs 1762–72, 202,000 1773–93 and 100,000 in one day: 18 August 1795. Just as the church supported her hoping to get their land back, Catherine bought the support of the bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 by making promotion up the 14 ranks automatic after a certain time period, regardless of position or merit. Thus, the bureaucracy was populated with time servers.

After her affair with her lover and adviser Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin ended in 1776, he allegedly selected a candidate-lover for her who had the physical beauty and mental faculties to hold her interest (such as Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov
Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov
Count Alexander Matveyevich Dmitriev-Mamonov was a lover of Catherine II of Russia from 1786 to 1789....

). Some of these men loved her in return, and she always showed generosity towards them, even after the affair ended. One of her lovers, Pyotr Zavadovsky
Pyotr Zavadovsky
Pyotr Zavadovsky, was a Russian favourite and the lover of Catherine the Great from 1776 to 1777.Count Zavadovsky was made secretary of Catherine in 1775 and official lover 2 January 1776. He is described as serious and cultivated and he is regarded to have been genuinely in love with Catherine...

, received 50,000 rubles, a pension of 5,000 rubles, and 4,000 peasants in the Ukraine after she dismissed him in 1777. The last of her lovers, Prince Zubov
Platon Zubov
Prince Platon Alexandrovich Zubov was the last of Catherine the Great's favourites and the most powerful man in Russian Empire during the last years of her reign....

, was 40 years her junior. Her sexual independence led to many of the legends about her.

In her memoirs, Catherine indicated that her first lover, Serge Saltykov
Serge Saltykov
Count Sergei Vasilievich Saltykov was a Russian officer who became the first lover of Empress Catherine the Great after her arrival to Russia....

, had fathered Paul, but Paul physically resembled her husband, Peter. Catherine kept near Tula
Tula, Russia
Tula is an industrial city and the administrative center of Tula Oblast, Russia. It is located south of Moscow, on the Upa River. Population: -History:...

, away from her court, her illegitimate son by Grigori Orlov
Orlov
Orlov is the name of a Russian noble family which produced several distinguished statesmen, diplomatists and soldiers. The family first gained distinction in the person of four Orlov brothers, of whom the senior was Catherine the Great's paramour, and the two junior were notable military...

, Alexis Bobrinskoy
Bobrinsky
Counts Bobrinsky or Bobrinskoy are a Russian noble family descending from Catherine the Great's natural son by Count Grigory Orlov - Aleksey Grigorievich Bobrinsky .-The first count:...

 (later created Count Bobrinskoy by Paul). Catherine and Orlov had another child, a daughter, called Elizabeth Alexandrovna Alexeeva (born in Saint Petersburg, 1761 – died 1844), born one year before Alexis. She married (1787) Friedrich Maximilian Klinger
Friedrich Maximilian Klinger
Friedrich Maximilian von Klinger was a German dramatist and novelist.-Biography:Klinger was born of humble parentage in Frankfurt. His father died when he was a child, and his early years were a hard struggle. He was enabled, however, in 1774 to enter the university of Gießen, where he studied law...

 and from this marriage she had one son, Alexander, who apparently died young in 1812.

Poniatowski



Sir Charles Hanbury Williams
Charles Hanbury Williams
Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, KB , diplomat, writer and satirist, son of John Hanbury, a Welsh ironmaster, assumed the name of Williams on succeeding to the estate of his godfather Charles Williams, in 1720....

, the British ambassador to Russia, offered Stanisław Poniatowski a place in the embassy, in return for gaining Catherine as an ally. Poniatowski, through his mother's side, came from the Czartoryski family, prominent members of the pro-Russian faction in Poland. Catherine, 26 years old and already married to the then-Grand Duke Peter for some 10 years, met the 22-year-old Poniatowski in 1755, therefore well before encountering the Orlov brothers. In 1757 Poniatowski served in the British forces during the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

, thus severing close relationships with Catherine. She bore him a daughter named Anna Petrovna in December 1757 (not to be confused with Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia, the daughter of Peter I's second marriage).

King Augustus III of Poland
Augustus III of Poland
Augustus III, known as the Saxon ; ; also Prince-elector Friedrich August II was the Elector of Saxony in 1733-1763, as Frederick Augustus II , King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1734-1763.-Biography:Augustus was the only legitimate son of Augustus II the Strong, Imperial Prince-Elector...

 died in 1763, and therefore Poland needed to elect a new ruler. Catherine supported Poniatowski as a candidate to become the next king.

Catherine sent the Russian army
Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are the military services of Russia, established after the break-up of the Soviet Union. On 7 May 1992 Boris Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the Russian Ministry of Defence and placing all Soviet Armed Forces troops on the territory of the RSFSR...

 into Poland to avoid possible disputes. Russia invaded Poland on 26 August 1764, threatening to fight, and forcing Poniatowski to become king. Poniatowski accepted the throne, and thereby put himself under Catherine's control. News of Catherine's plan spread and Frederick II (others say the Ottoman sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

) warned her that if she tried to conquer Poland by marrying Poniatowski, all of Europe would oppose her strongly.

She had no intention of marrying him, having already given birth to Orlov's child and to the Grand Duke Paul by then. She told Poniatowski to marry someone else to remove all suspicion. Poniatowski refused; he never married.

Prussia (through the agency of Prince Henry), Russia (under Catherine), and Austria (under Maria Theresa
Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma...

) began preparing the ground for the partitions of Poland. In the first partition, 1772, the three powers split 20000 square miles (51,799.8 km²) between them. Russia got territories east of the line connecting, more or less, Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

–Polotsk–Mogilev
Mogilev
Mogilev is a city in eastern Belarus, about 76 km from the border with Russia's Smolensk Oblast and 105 km from the border with Russia's Bryansk Oblast. It has more than 367,788 inhabitants...

.

In the second partition, in 1793, Russia received the most land, from west of Minsk
Minsk
- Ecological situation :The ecological situation is monitored by Republican Center of Radioactive and Environmental Control .During 2003–2008 the overall weight of contaminants increased from 186,000 to 247,400 tons. The change of gas as industrial fuel to mazut for financial reasons has worsened...

 almost to Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 and down the river Dnieper
Dnieper River
The Dnieper River is one of the major rivers of Europe that flows from Russia, through Belarus and Ukraine, to the Black Sea.The total length is and has a drainage basin of .The river is noted for its dams and hydroelectric stations...

, leaving some spaces of steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 down south in front of Ochakov
Ochakiv
Ochakiv is a city in the Mykolaiv Oblast of southern Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Ochakivsky Raion , the city itself is also designated as a separate raion within the oblast, and is located on a peninsula in the Black Sea, at the entrance to the Dnieper Rivers's estuary,...

, on the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

.

After this, uprisings in Poland led to the third partition, 1795, one year before Catherine's death.

Orlov


Grigory Orlov
Orlov
Orlov is the name of a Russian noble family which produced several distinguished statesmen, diplomatists and soldiers. The family first gained distinction in the person of four Orlov brothers, of whom the senior was Catherine the Great's paramour, and the two junior were notable military...

, the grandson of a rebel in the Streltsy Uprising
Streltsy Uprising
The Streltsy Uprising of 1698 was an uprising of the Moscow Streltsy regiments. Some Russian historians believe that the Streltsy uprising was a reactionary rebellion against progressive innovations of Peter the Great...

 (1698) against Peter the Great, distinguished himself in the Battle of Zorndorf
Battle of Zorndorf
The Battle of Zorndorf was a battle fought on August 25, 1758 during the Seven Years' War, fought between the forces of the Russians troops under the command of Count William Fermor – and a Prussian army under King Frederick the Great...

 (25 August 1758), receiving three wounds. He represented an opposite to Peter's pro-Prussian sentiment, with which Catherine disagreed. By 1759 he and Catherine had become lovers; no one told Catherine's husband, the Grand Duke Peter. Catherine saw Orlov as very useful, and he became instrumental in the July 1761 coup d’état against her husband, but she preferred to remain the Dowager Empress of Russia, rather than marrying anyone.

Grigory Orlov and his other three brothers found themselves rewarded with titles, money, swords, and other gifts. But Catherine did not marry Grigory, who proved inept at politics and useless when asked for advice. He received a palace in St. Petersburg when Catherine became Empress.

Orlov died in 1783. His and Catherine's son, Aleksey Grygoriovich Bobrinsky (1762–1813), had one daughter, Maria Alexeeva Bobrinsky (Bobrinskaya) (1798–1835), who married in 1819 the 34-year-old Prince Nikolai Sergeevich Gagarin (London, England, 12 July 1784 – 25 July 1842) who took part in the Battle of Borodino
Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino , fought on September 7, 1812, was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the French invasion of Russia and all Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties...

 (7 September 1812) against Napoleon, and later served as Ambassador in Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

, the capital of the Duchy of Savoy
Duchy of Savoy
From 1416 to 1847, the House of Savoy ruled the eponymous Duchy of Savoy . The Duchy was a state in the northern part of the Italian Peninsula, with some territories that are now in France. It was a continuation of the County of Savoy...

.

Potemkin



Grigory Potemkin had had involvement in the coup d'état of 1762. In 1772, Catherine's close friends informed her of Orlov's affairs with other women, and she dismissed him. By the winter of 1773 the Pugachev revolt
Pugachev's Rebellion
Pugachev's Rebellion of 1774-75 was the principal revolt in a series of popular rebellions that took place in Russia after Catherine II seized power in 1762...

 had started to threaten. Catherine's son Paul had also started gaining support; both of these trends threatened her power. She called Potemkin for help—mostly military—and he became devoted to her.

In 1772 Catherine wrote to Potemkin. Days earlier, she had found out about an uprising in the Volga region. She appointed General Aleksandr Bibikov
Aleksandr Bibikov
Aleksandr Ilyich Bibikov was a Russian statesman and military officer.Bibikov came from an old noble family; Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov was his brother-in-law....

 to put down the uprising, but she needed Potemkin's advice on military strategy
Military strategy
Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", 'the art of arrangement' of troops...

.

Potemkin quickly gained positions and awards. Russian poets wrote about his virtues, the court praised him, foreign ambassadors fought for his favor, and his family moved into the palace. He later became governor of New Russia
Novorossiya
Novorossiya is a historic area of lands which established itself solidly after the annexation of the Crimean Khanate by the Russian Empire, but was introduced with the establishment of Novorossiysk Governorate with the capital in Kremenchuk in the mid 18th century. Until that time in both Polish...

.

In 1780, the son of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa, Emperor Joseph II
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph II was Holy Roman Emperor from 1765 to 1790 and ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780 to 1790. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I...

, toyed with the idea of determining whether or not to enter an alliance with Russia, and asked to meet Catherine. Potemkin had the task of briefing him and traveling with him to Saint Petersburg.

Potemkin also convinced Catherine to expand the universities in Russia to increase the number of scientists.

Potemkin fell very ill in August 1783. Catherine worried that he would not finish his work developing the south as he had planned. Potemkin died at the age of 52 in 1791.

Final months and death



Though Catherine's life and reign included remarkable personal successes, they ended with two failures. Her Swedish cousin (once removed) King Gustav IV Adolph
Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden
Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden also Gustav Adolph was King of Sweden from 1792 until his abdication in 1809. He was the son of Gustav III of Sweden and his queen consort Sophia Magdalena, eldest daughter of Frederick V of Denmark and his first wife Louise of Great Britain. He was the last Swedish...

 visited her in September of 1796, the empress's intention being that her granddaughter Alexandra should become Queen of Sweden by marriage. A ball was given at the imperial court on 11 September, when the engagement was supposed to be announced. Gustav Adolph felt pressured to accept the fact that Alexandra would not be converting to Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, and though he was delighted by the young lady, he refused to appear at the ball and left for Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

. Catherine was so irritated at this that her health was impacted. She recovered well enough to begin to plan a ceremony where a favorite grandson would supersede her difficult son on the throne, but she died of a stroke before the announcement could be made, just over two months after the engagement ball.

On , Catherine rose early in the morning and had her usual morning coffee, soon settling down to work on papers at her study. Her lady's maid, Maria Perekusikhina
Maria Perekusikhina
Maria Savvishna Perekusikhina , was a Russian memoirist, the Lady's maid of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia. She was a close friend and confidant of Catherine and quite influential....

, had asked the Empress if she had slept well, and Catherine reportedly replied that she had not slept so well in a long time.

Sometime after 9:00 am that morning, Catherine went to her dressing room and collapsed on the floor. Worried by Catherine's absence, her attendant, Zakhar Zotov, opened the door and peered in. Catherine's body was sprawled on the floor. Her face appeared purplish, her pulse was weak, and her breathing was shallow and labored. The servants lifted Catherine from the floor and brought her to the bedroom. Some 45 minutes later, the royal court's Scottish physician, Dr. John Rogerson, arrived and determined that Catherine had suffered a stroke. Despite all attempts to revive the Empress, she fell into a coma from which she never recovered. Catherine was given the Last Rites
Last Rites
The Last Rites are the very last prayers and ministrations given to many Christians before death. The last rites go by various names and include different practices in different Christian traditions...

 and died the following evening at approximately 9:45 pm. An autopsy performed on her body the next day confirmed the cause of death as stroke.

Catherine's undated will, discovered in early 1792 by her secretary Alexander Vasilievich Khrapovitsky among her papers, gave specific instructions should she die: "Lay out my corpse dressed in white, with a golden crown on my head, and on it inscribe my Christian name. Mourning dress is to be worn for six months, and no longer: the shorter the better." In the end, the Empress was laid to rest with a gold crown on her head and clothed in a silver brocade
Brocade
Brocade is a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics, often made in colored silks and with or without gold and silver threads. The name, related to the same root as the word "broccoli," comes from Italian broccato meaning "embossed cloth," originally past participle of the verb broccare...

 dress. On 25 November, the coffin, richly decorated in gold fabric, was placed atop an elevated platform at the Grand Gallery's chamber of mourning, designed and decorated by Antonio Rinaldi. Catherine was buried at the Peter and Paul Cathedral
Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Zayachy Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were...

 in Saint Petersburg.

The claim that her death was caused by a sexual incident involving a horse is a myth
Urban legend
An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

 and has no basis.

Issue

  1. Emperor Paul I of Russia
    Paul I of Russia
    Paul I was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He also was the 72nd Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta .-Childhood:...

     (1 October 1754 - 23 March 1801), officially fathered by Catherine's husband, Emperor Peter III of Russia
    Peter III of Russia
    Peter III was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762. He was very pro-Prussian, which made him an unpopular leader. He was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne as Catherine II.-Early life and character:Peter was born in Kiel, in...

    , but claimed by Catherine to be the son of her lover, Count Serge Saltykov
    Serge Saltykov
    Count Sergei Vasilievich Saltykov was a Russian officer who became the first lover of Empress Catherine the Great after her arrival to Russia....

  2. Anna Petrovna (9 December 1757 - 8 March 1758), fathered by Catherine's lover, the future King Stanislaus II of Poland
  3. Elizabeth Alexandrovna Alexeeva (1761–1844), married to Friedrich Maximilian Klinger
    Friedrich Maximilian Klinger
    Friedrich Maximilian von Klinger was a German dramatist and novelist.-Biography:Klinger was born of humble parentage in Frankfurt. His father died when he was a child, and his early years were a hard struggle. He was enabled, however, in 1774 to enter the university of Gießen, where he studied law...

    , fathered by Catherine's lover, Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov
    Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov
    Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov was the lover of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia who fathered two of her children.He was the son of Gregory Orlov, governor of Great Novgorod. He was educated in the corps of cadets at St Petersburg, began his military career in the Seven Years' War, and was...

  4. Count Alexei Grigorievich Bobrinsky (11 April 1762 - 20 June 1813), fathered by Orlov

Romanov dynastic issues



Pretenders and potential pretenders to the throne

  • Ivan VI of Russia
    Ivan VI of Russia
    Ivan VI Antonovich of Russia , was proclaimed Emperor of Russia in 1740, as an infant, although he never actually reigned. Within less than a year, he was overthrown by the Empress Elizabeth of Russia, Peter the Great's daughter...

     (born 1740), as a former Tsar (reigned as an infant, 1740–1741), represented a potential focus of dissident support for successive rulers of Russia, who held him in prison. When she became Empress in 1762 Catherine tightened the conditions of his incarceration. His jailers in the prison of Shlisselburg
    Shlisselburg
    Shlisselburg is a town in Leningrad Oblast, Russia, situated at the head of the Neva River on Lake Ladoga, east of St. Petersburg. From 1944 to 1992, it was known as Petrokrepost...

     killed Ivan, as per standing instructions, in the course of an attempt to free him in 1764.

  • Yemelyan Pugachev
    Yemelyan Pugachev
    Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachov , was a pretender to the Russian throne who led a great Cossack insurrection during the reign of Catherine II...

     (1740/1742–1775) identified himself in 1773 as Tsar Peter III of Russia (Catherine's late husband). His armed rebellion
    Pugachev's Rebellion
    Pugachev's Rebellion of 1774-75 was the principal revolt in a series of popular rebellions that took place in Russia after Catherine II seized power in 1762...

    , aiming to seize power and to banish the Empress to a monastery, became a serious menace until crushed in 1774. The authorities had Pugachev executed in Moscow in January 1775.

  • Princess Tarakanova
    Yelizaveta Alekseyevna Tarakanova
    Yelizaveta Alekseyevna , in later centuries known as Tarakanova or Tarakanoff, was a pretender to the Russian throne. She styled herself, among other names, Knyaginya Vladimirskaya , princess Elisabeth Alexeievna, Fräulein Frank, and Madame Trémouille...

     (1753–1775) declared herself in Paris in 1774 as Elizabeth's daughter by Alexis Razumovsky
    Alexey Razumovsky
    Count Alexei Grigorievich Razumovsky , was a Ukrainian Cossack who rose to become lover and, the morganatic spouse of the Russian Empress Elizaveta Petrovna.- Early life :...

     and as the sister of Pugachev. The Empress Catherine dispatched Alexey Orlov
    Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov
    Count Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov was a Russian soldier and statesman, who rose to prominence during the reign of Catherine the Great.Orlov served in the Imperial Russian Army, and through his connections with his brother, became one of the key conspirators in the plot to overthrow Tsar Peter III...

     to Italy, where he captured Tarakanova in Livorno. When brought to Russia in 1775, Tarakanova went to prison in the Peter and Paul Fortress
    Peter and Paul Fortress
    The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini's designs from 1706-1740.-History:...

    , where she died of tuberculosis
    Tuberculosis
    Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

     in December 1775. There are rumors that this death was faked and that she was confined to a nunnery in Moscow in 1785, where she died in 1810.

Succession to the throne


On a date already set for a week after she died, Catherine had intended to formally announce that Paul would be excluded from the succession, and that the crown would go to her eldest grandson, Alexander (whom she greatly favored, and who subsequently became the emperor Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 in 1801). Her harshness towards Paul probably stemmed as much from political distrust as from what she saw of his character. Keeping Paul in a state of semi-captivity in Gatchina
Gatchina
Gatchina is a town and the administrative center of Gatchinsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located south of St. Petersburg by the road leading to Pskov...

 and Pavlovsk
Pavlovsk Palace
Pavlovsk Palace is an 18th-century Russian Imperial residence built by Paul I of Russia near Saint Petersburg. After his death, it became the home of his widow, Maria Feodorovna...

, she resolved not to allow her son to dispute or to share in her authority during her lifetime.

Titles and styles

  • Her Serene Highness Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst (1729–1745)
  • Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Catherine Alekseievna of Russia (1745–1761)
  • Her Imperial Majesty The Empress of all the Russias (1761–1762) (as Empress consort)
  • Her Imperial Majesty The Empress and Autocrat of all the Russias (1762–1796) (as Empress regnant)

Ancestors





In popular culture




  • Catherine commissioned "The Bronze Horseman" statue, which stands in Saint Petersburg on the banks of the Neva River
    Neva River
    The Neva is a river in northwestern Russia flowing from Lake Ladoga through the western part of Leningrad Oblast to the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland. Despite its modest length , it is the third largest river in Europe in terms of average discharge .The Neva is the only river flowing from Lake...

    . She had the large boulder it stands on transported from several leagues away. Catherine had it inscribed with the Latin phrase "Petro Primo Catharina Secunda MDCCLXXXII," meaning "Catherine the Second to Peter the First, 1782," to gain legitimacy by connecting herself to the "Founder of Modern Russia." This statue later inspired Pushkin's famous poem The Bronze Horseman
    The Bronze Horseman (poem)
    The Bronze Horseman: A Petersburg Tale is a narrative poem written by Aleksandr Pushkin in 1833 about the equestrian statue of Peter the Great in Saint Petersburg. Widely considered to be Pushkin's most successful narrative poem, "The Bronze Horseman" has had a lasting impact on Russian...

     (1833).
  • Numerous dramatizations based on the life of Catherine II have appeared:
    • The 1934 film Catherine the Great (based on the play The Czarina by Lajos Biró
      Lajos Biró
      Lajos Bíró was a Hungarian novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who wrote many films from the early 1920s through the late 1940s. He was born in Nagyvárad, Austria-Hungary and eventually moved to the United Kingdom where he worked as a scenario chief for London Film Productions run by...

       and Melchior Lengyel
      Melchior Lengyel
      Melchior Lengyel was a Hungarian writer, dramatist, and film screenwriter.-Biography:Lengyel was born Lebovics Menyhért in Balmazújváros, Hungary. He started his career as a journalist...

      ) stars Elisabeth Bergner
      Elisabeth Bergner
      Elisabeth Bergner was an actress.She was born Elisabeth Ettel in Drohobycz, Austro-Hungarian Empire ....

       as Catherine.
    • Also in 1934, the film The Scarlet Empress
      The Scarlet Empress
      The Scarlet Empress is a 1934 historical drama film made by Paramount Pictures about the life of Catherine the Great. It was directed and produced by Josef von Sternberg from a screenplay by Eleanor McGeary, loosely based on the diary of Catherine arranged by Manuel Komroff...

      appeared, directed by Josef von Sternberg
      Josef von Sternberg
      Josef von Sternberg — born Jonas Sternberg — was an Austrian-American film director. He is particularly noted for his distinctive mise en scène, use of lighting and soft lens, and seven-film collaboration with actress Marlene Dietrich.-Youth:Von Sternberg was born Jonas Sternberg to a Jewish...

       and starring Marlene Dietrich
      Marlene Dietrich
      Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer.Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films...

      .
    • In 1944, Mae West
      Mae West
      Mae West was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades....

      's Broadway play Catherine Was Great dealt humorously with the many men in the empress's life.
    • In 1945 A Royal Scandal
      A Royal Scandal (film)
      A Royal Scandal, also known as Czarina, is a 1945 film about the love life of Russian Empress Catherine the Great. It stars Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Coburn, Anne Baxter, and William Eythe...

      , directed by Ernst Lubitsch
      Ernst Lubitsch
      Ernst Lubitsch was a German-born film director. His urbane comedies of manners gave him the reputation of being Hollywood's most elegant and sophisticated director; as his prestige grew, his films were promoted as having "the Lubitsch touch."In 1947 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his...

       and Otto Preminger
      Otto Preminger
      Otto Ludwig Preminger was an Austro–Hungarian-American theatre and film director.After moving from the theatre to Hollywood, he directed over 35 feature films in a five-decade career. He rose to prominence for stylish film noir mysteries such as Laura and Fallen Angel...

      , stars Tallulah Bankhead
      Tallulah Bankhead
      Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was an award-winning American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host, and bonne vivante...

       and Charles Coburn
      Charles Coburn
      Charles Douville Coburn was an American film and theater actor.-Biography:Coburn was born in Macon, Georgia, the son of Scots-Irish Americans Emma Louise Sprigman and Moses Douville Coburn. Growing up in Savannah, he started out doing odd jobs at the local Savannah Theater, handing out programs,...

      .
    • A 1991 TV miniseries
      Miniseries
      A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

       Young Catherine
      Young Catherine
      Young Catherine is a 1991 American TV miniseries based on the early life of Catherine II of Russia. It stars Julia Ormond as Catherine and Vanessa Redgrave as Empress Elizabeth....

      features Julia Ormond
      Julia Ormond
      Julia Karin Ormond is an English actress who has appeared in film and television and on stage.-Early life and education:...

       in the role of Catherine.
    • Catherine Zeta-Jones
      Catherine Zeta-Jones
      Catherine Zeta-Jones, CBE, is a British actress. She began her career on stage at an early age. After starring in a number of United Kingdom and United States television films and small roles in films, she came to prominence with roles in Hollywood movies such as the 1998 action film The Mask of...

       portrayed Catherine in the 1995 television movie Catherine the Great.
    • In 2005 Emily Bruni
      Emily Bruni
      Emily Bruni , is an English actress.Born to an Italian father who is an academic at Exeter University, Bruni was educated at St Peter's school. Bruni was a member of the Devon Youth Theatre and Exeter Children's Orchestra before training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.Bruni...

       portrayed the empress in the feature length PBS documentary Catherine the Great.
  • One of Serbia
    Serbia
    Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

    's most famed New Wave
    New Wave music
    New Wave is a subgenre of :rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970s alongside punk rock. The term at first generally was synonymous with punk rock before being considered a genre in its own right that incorporated aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco and 1960s...

     bands, Ekatarina Velika
    Ekatarina Velika
    Ekatarina Velika , sometimes referred to as EKV for short, was a Serbian and former Yugoslav rock group from Belgrade, being one of the most successful and influential music acts coming out of former Yugoslavia....

     (which translates as "Catherine the Great") (1982–94), took its name from Catherine II of Russia.
  • Folk rock
    Folk rock
    Folk rock is a musical genre combining elements of folk music and rock music. In its earliest and narrowest sense, the term referred to a genre that arose in the United States and the UK around the mid-1960s...

     songwriter Freddy Blohm's "Catherine, You're Great!" relates Catherine's most infamous myth from an equine point of view.
  • The Barenaked Ladies
    Barenaked Ladies
    Barenaked Ladies is a Canadian alternative rock band. The band is currently composed of Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, and Tyler Stewart. Barenaked Ladies formed in 1988 in Scarborough, Ontario, then a suburban municipality outside the City of Toronto...

     song "Go Home" has a line concerning this urban legend as well: "If you think of her as Catherine the Great // Then you should be the horse to help her meet her fate."
  • The Grateful Dead
    Grateful Dead
    The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long...

     song "Hell In a Bucket" has the line "Well we know you're the reincarnation of the ravenous Catherine the Great."
  • In the 2002 television series Clone High
    Clone High
    Clone High is a Canadian-American animated television series that aired for one season on MTV and Teletoon....

    , the clone of JFK supposedly has sex with Catherine's clone, complaining when someone disturbs his activities that he's "trying to nail Catherine the Great" – but quickly corrects himself, adding "Or should I say, Catherine the So-So." Catherine's clone appears several times in the series, depicted as having an hourglass figure, blonde curly hair, and speaking with a California Valley Girl
    Valley girl
    Valley Girl is a stereotype leveled at a socio-economic and ethnic class of American women who can be described as colloquial English-speaking and materialistic...

     accent. She usually wears white pedal pushers
    Pedal Pushers
    Pedal pushers are calf-length trousers that were popular during the 1950s and have seen a resurgence in the 2010s. Often cuffed and worn tight to the skin, they are related in style to Capri pants, and are sometimes referred to as "clam diggers"...

     and a light blue midriff top.
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel
    Angela Merkel
    Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

     reportedly has a picture of Catherine II in her office, and characterises her as a "strong woman".
  • The Russian slang word for money "babki" (literally: "old women") refers to the image of Catherine II printed on pre-Revolution 100-ruble banknotes.
  • In the anime
    Anime
    is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

     Le Chevalier D'Eon
    Le Chevalier D'Eon
    is a 24-episode anime TV series produced by Production I.G based on an original story by Tow Ubukata. The anime originally aired in Japan on WOWOW from August 19, 2006 to February 2, 2007. The story has also been adapted into a manga series written by Tow Ubukata and illustrated by Kiriko Yumeji,...

    , a young Catherine the Great appears under her Russian name of Ekaterina. As in real life, she takes over Russia from Peter (Pyotr). She despises him and has no problems overthrowing him. Jessica Boone
    Jessica Boone
    Jessica Boone is a classically trained American actress with extensive experience in Shakespeare and musical theatre. She has been a leading player with Prague Shakespeare Festival and Houston Shakespeare Festival where her roles have included Rosalind, Juliet, Helena, Regan, Thaisa and Innogen...

     voices the character in the English adaptation, and Sachiko Takaguchi
    Yukiko Takaguchi
    is a Japanese seiyū. She has appeared in numerous anime series, including appearing in Yamatonadeshiko Shichihenge as Sunako Nakahara and in Fantastic Children as Soreto.Her most recent role is as the female protagonist of Super Robot Wars Z Setsuko Ohara.-External links:* *...

     in the Japanese version.
  • In the computer games Civilization III
    Civilization III
    Sid Meier's Civilization III, commonly shortened to Civ III or Civ 3, is the third installment of the Sid Meier's Civilization turn-based strategy computer game series. It was preceded by Civilization II and followed by Civilization IV. The game offers very sophisticated gameplay in terms of both...

    , Civilization V
    Civilization V
    Sid Meier's Civilization V is a turn-based strategy, 4X computer game developed by Firaxis, released on Microsoft Windows in September 2010 and on Mac OS X on November 23, 2010...

    , and Civilization Revolution
    Civilization Revolution
    Civilization Revolution is a 2008 iteration of Civilization developed by Firaxis with Sid Meier as designer for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, and iOS. A Wii version was originally expected but was put on indefinite hold...

    , Catherine is the sole option as the leader of the Russian Empire. In Civilization II
    Civilization II
    Sid Meier's Civilization II is a turn-based strategy computer game designed by Brian Reynolds, Douglas Caspian-Kaufman and Jeff Briggs. Although it is a sequel to Sid Meier's Civilization, neither Sid Meier nor Bruce Shelley was involved in its development.Civilization II was first released in...

    , Catherine is the female leader while Lenin is the male counterpart, while in Civilization IV
    Civilization IV
    Sid Meier's Civilization IV is a turn-based strategy, 4X computer game released in 2005 and developed by lead designer Soren Johnson under the direction of Sid Meier and Meier's studio Firaxis Games. It is the fourth installment of the Civilization series...

    , Catherine is one leader choice; other choices are Peter I, or Stalin with Warlords Expansion. Diplomacy dialogue with Catherine in Civilization IV as well as the body languague of the animation portray her as promiscuous, in reference to her private life and the legends.

See also


  • Potemkin village
    Potemkin village
    Potemkin villages or Potyomkin villages is an idiom based on a historical myth. According to the myth, there were fake settlements purportedly erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigory Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787...

  • Tsars of Russia family tree
    Rulers of Russia family tree
    These images show family trees for the different royal houses that ruled Vladimir, Moscow and Russia from AD 1157 to 1917.-External links:*...


List of prominent Catherinians


Pre-eminent figures in Catherinian Russia include:
  • Ivan Betskoy
    Ivan Betskoy
    Ivan Ivanovich Betskoi or Betskoy was a Russian school reformer who served as Catherine II's advisor on education and President of the Imperial Academy of Arts for thirty years...

  • Alexander Bezborodko
    Alexander Bezborodko
    Prince Alexander Andreyevich Bezborodko was the Grand Chancellor of Russia and chief architect of Catherine the Great's foreign policy after the death of Nikita Panin.-Ukrainian origins:...

  • Yakov Bulgakov
    Yakov Bulgakov
    Yakov Ivanovich Bulgakov was a Russian diplomat best remembered as Catherine II's emissary in Istanbul in the 1780s....

  • Gavrila Derzhavin
  • Dmitry Levitsky
    Dmitry Levitzky
    Dmitry Levitzky was a Russian-Ukrainian portrait painter.-Biography:...

  • Aleksey Orlov
    Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov
    Count Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov was a Russian soldier and statesman, who rose to prominence during the reign of Catherine the Great.Orlov served in the Imperial Russian Army, and through his connections with his brother, became one of the key conspirators in the plot to overthrow Tsar Peter III...

  • Nikita Panin
    Nikita Ivanovich Panin
    Count Nikita Ivanovich Panin was an influential Russian statesman and political mentor to Catherine the Great for the first eighteen years of her reign. In that role he advocated the Northern Alliance, closer ties with Frederick the Great of Prussia and the establishment of an advisory privy...

  • Grigory Potemkin
  • Nicholas Repnin
    Nicholas Repnin
    Prince Nikolai Vasilyevich Repnin was an Imperial Russian statesman and general from the Repnin princely family who played a key role in the dissolution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.- Rule of Poland :...

  • Peter Rumyantsev
    Pyotr Rumyantsev
    Count Pyotr Alexandrovich Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky was one of the foremost Russian generals of the 18th century. He governed Little Russia in the name of Empress Catherine the Great from the abolition of the Cossack Hetmanate in 1764 until Catherine's death 32 years later...

  • Mikhailo Shcherbatov
    Mikhail Shcherbatov
    Prince Mikhailo Mikhailovich Shcherbatov was a leading ideologue and exponent of the Russian Enlightenment, on the par with Mikhail Lomonosov and Nikolay Novikov. His view of human nature and social progress is kindred to Swift's pessimism. He was known as a statesman, historian, writer and...

  • Alexander Suvorov
    Alexander Suvorov
    Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov , Count Suvorov of Rymnik, Prince in Italy, Count of the Holy Roman Empire , was the fourth and last generalissimo of the Russian Empire.One of the few great generals in history who never lost a battle along with the likes of Alexander...

  • Fyodor Ushakov
    Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov
    Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov was the most illustrious Russian naval commander and admiral of the 18th century.- Life and naval career :...

  • Catherine Vorontsova
    Yekaterina Romanovna Vorontsova-Dashkova
    Princess Yekaterina Romanovna Vorontsova-Dashkova was the closest female friend of Empress Catherine the Great and a major figure of the Russian Enlightenment...

  • John Paul Jones
    John Paul Jones
    John Paul Jones was a Scottish sailor and the United States' first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. Although he made enemies among America's political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to...

     – the American sea captain and admiral served under Catherine in naval actions against the Turks in the Black Sea
    Black Sea
    The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

     in 1788.

Further reading

  • Brickner Alexander Gustavovich. History of Catherine the Great. Saint Petersburg: Typography of A. Suvorin, 1885. At Runivers.ru in DjVu
    DjVu
    DjVu is a computer file format designed primarily to store scanned documents, especially those containing a combination of text, line drawings, and photographs. It uses technologies such as image layer separation of text and background/images, progressive loading, arithmetic coding, and lossy...

     and PDF formats
  • Bogdanovich Modest I. Russian army in the age of the Empress Catherine II. Saint Petersburg: Printing office of the Department of inheritance, 1873. At Runivers.ru in DjVu
    DjVu
    DjVu is a computer file format designed primarily to store scanned documents, especially those containing a combination of text, line drawings, and photographs. It uses technologies such as image layer separation of text and background/images, progressive loading, arithmetic coding, and lossy...

     and PDF formats
  • Bilbasov Vasily A. History of Catherine the Great. Berlin: Publishing Frederick Gottgeyner, 1900. At Runivers.ru in DjVu
    DjVu
    DjVu is a computer file format designed primarily to store scanned documents, especially those containing a combination of text, line drawings, and photographs. It uses technologies such as image layer separation of text and background/images, progressive loading, arithmetic coding, and lossy...

     and PDF formats
  • Alexander, John T. Catherine the Great: Life and Legend. New York: Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

     (USA), 1988 (hardcover, ISBN 0-19-505236-6); 1989 (paperback, ISBN 0-19-506162-4).
  • Cronin, Vincent
    Vincent Cronin
    Vincent Archibald Patrick Cronin, FRSL was a British historical, cultural, and biographical writer, best-known for his biographies of Louis XIV, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, and Napoleon, as well as for his books on the Renaissance.Cronin was born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire...

    . Catherine, Empress of All the Russias. London: Collins, 1978 (hardcover, ISBN 0-00-216119-2); 1996 (paperback, ISBN 1-86046-091-7).
  • Elena Palmer
    Elena Palmer
    Elena Palmer is a renowned German journalist and author with Russian origins.- Biography :Elena Palmer is the author of the biography „Peter III - The Prince of Holstein“ , herein she is expressing reasonable doubt towards the common portrayal of Russian emperor Peter III...

    ."Peter III. Der Prinz von Holstein". Sutton, Germany, 2005 (ISBN 3-89702-788-7).
  • Dixon, Simon. Catherine the Great (Profiles in Power). Harlow, UK: Longman, 2001 (paperback, ISBN 0-582-09803-3).
  • Herman, Eleanor. Sex With the Queen. New York: HarperCollins
    HarperCollins
    HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

    , 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 0-06-084673-9).
  • Madariaga, Isabel de. Catherine the Great: A Short History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , 1990 (hardcover, ISBN 0-300-04845-9); 2002 (paperback, ISBN 0-300-09722-0).
  • The Memoirs of Catherine the Great by Markus Cruse and Hilde Hoogenboom (translators). New York: Modern Library
    Modern Library
    The Modern Library is a publishing company. Founded in 1917 by Albert Boni and Horace Liveright as an imprint of their publishing company Boni & Liveright, it was purchased in 1925 by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer...

    , 2005 (hardcover, ISBN 0-679-64299-4); 2006 (paperback, ISBN 0-8129-6987-1).
  • Memoirs of the Empress Catherine II, written by herself, with a preface by A. Herzen
    Alexander Herzen
    Aleksandr Ivanovich Herzen was a Russian pro-Western writer and thinker known as the "father of Russian socialism", and one of the main fathers of agrarian populism...

    .
    London, Trübner, 1859 (same source as above, in an older translation -from French- and edition; digitized copy available online for free in full view in English and in French -for this French version: same publisher, same year-)(print copies of these digitized books available).
  • Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner. New York: Vintage, 2005 (paperback, ISBN 1-4000-7717-6).
  • Smith, Douglas, ed. and trans. Love and Conquest: Personal Correspondence of Catherine the Great and Prince Grigory Potemkin. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois UP, 2004 (hardcover, ISBN 0-87580-324-5); 2005 (paperback ISBN 0-87580-607-4).
  • Troyat, Henri
    Henri Troyat
    Henri Troyat was a Russian born French author, biographer, historian and novelist.-Biography:Troyat was born Lev Aslanovich Tarasov, in Moscow to parents of mixed heritage, including Armenian, Russian, German and Georgian...

    . Catherine the Great. New York: Dorset Press, 1991 (hardcover, ISBN 0-88029-688-7); London: Orion, 2000 (paperback, ISBN 1-84212-029-8).
  • Troyat, Henri
    Henri Troyat
    Henri Troyat was a Russian born French author, biographer, historian and novelist.-Biography:Troyat was born Lev Aslanovich Tarasov, in Moscow to parents of mixed heritage, including Armenian, Russian, German and Georgian...

    . Terrible Tsarinas. New York: Algora, 2001 (ISBN 1-892941-54-6).
  • Massie, Robert K. Catherine the Great New York: Random House, 2011 (hardcover, ISBN 978-0-679-45672-8)

External links




  • Filmography:
    • The Scarlet Empress
      The Scarlet Empress
      The Scarlet Empress is a 1934 historical drama film made by Paramount Pictures about the life of Catherine the Great. It was directed and produced by Josef von Sternberg from a screenplay by Eleanor McGeary, loosely based on the diary of Catherine arranged by Manuel Komroff...

       (1934): Directed by Josef von Sternberg
      Josef von Sternberg
      Josef von Sternberg — born Jonas Sternberg — was an Austrian-American film director. He is particularly noted for his distinctive mise en scène, use of lighting and soft lens, and seven-film collaboration with actress Marlene Dietrich.-Youth:Von Sternberg was born Jonas Sternberg to a Jewish...

      ; starring Marlene Dietrich
      Marlene Dietrich
      Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer.Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films...

    • The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934): Directed by Paul Czinner
      Paul Czinner
      Paul Czinner was a writer, film director, and producer.Czinner was born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary. After studying literature and philosophy at the University of Vienna, he worked as a journalist. From 1919 onward, he dedicated himself to work for the filming industry as writer, director and...

      ; starring Elisabeth Bergner
      Elisabeth Bergner
      Elisabeth Bergner was an actress.She was born Elisabeth Ettel in Drohobycz, Austro-Hungarian Empire ....

  • Douglas Smith, Love and Conquest: Personal Correspondence of Catherine the Great and Prince Grigory Potemkin Photos Empress Catherine II of Sevastopol
  • http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/Catherine.html