Catherine II

(biography, photos, videos) Sophia Frederic August of Anhalt-Zerbst

photograph of Catherine II

  • Name: Catherine II ( Sophia Frederic August of Anhalt-Zerbst )
  • Date of birth: 2 may 1729
  • Age: 67 years
  • Date of death: 17 Nov 1796
  • Place of birth: city of Stettin, Prussia
  • Height: 157
  • Activity: all-Russian Empress from 1762 to 1796
  • Marital status: Widow of Peter III

    Catherine II: biography

    Catherine II the great Empress of Russia whose reign was the most significant period of Russian history. The era of Catherine the great marked the «Golden age» of the Russian Empire, the cultural and the political culture which the Queen brought to the European level. Biography of Catherine II is full of light and dark bands, and numerous plans and accomplishments and turbulent personal life of which to this day make films, write books.

    Catherine II was born on 2 may (21 April, old style) 1729 in Prussia in the family of the Governor of Stettin Zerbst Duke and Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp. Despite a rich pedigree of the family of the Princess was not had a significant condition, but that did not stop parents to provide home schooling for her daughter, especially not stand on ceremony with her upbringing. A future Empress of Russia at a high level, learned English, Italian and French, possessed dancing and singing, and also received knowledge about the basics of history, geography and theology.

    In childhood the young Princess was high-spirited and curious child with a strong «boyish» character. She showed no special intellectual abilities and not to demonstrate their talents, but helped his mother in raising his younger sister Augusta that suit both parents. In the early years mother’s name was Catherine Fike II, which means little Federica.

    At the age of 15 it became known that the Princess of Zerbst was chosen by Elizabeth I as a bride for the heir of Peter Fedorovich, who later became the Russian Emperor Peter III. In this regard, the Princess and her mother secretly invited to Russia, where they went under the name of Countess Reinbek. The girl immediately began to study Russian history, language and Orthodoxy, to more fully learn about their new home. Soon she converted to Orthodoxy and was baptized Catherine Alekseevna, and the next day got engaged to Peter Fedorovich, who was her second cousin.

    The coup and the ascension to the throne

    After the wedding of Peter III in the life of the future Russian Empress almost nothing has changed – it continued to devote himself to self-education, to study philosophy, jurisprudence and writings of internationally renowned authors, as the man showed absolutely no interest in her and openly partied with other ladies in her eyes. After nine years of marriage, when the relations between Peter and Catherine completely disintegrated, the Queen had the heir to the throne of Paul, which she immediately seized and almost never allowed to see him.

    Then in the head of Catherine the great had a plan to overthrow her husband from the throne. She is thin, clearly and legibly organized a Palace coup, she helped the British Ambassador Williams and the Chancellor of the Russian Empire, count Alexei Bestuzhev.

    It soon appeared that both trusted face of the future Russian Empress had betrayed her. But Catherine did not abandon the idea and found new allies in its execution. They were the Orlov brothers, Khitrovo adjutant and Sergeant-major Potemkin. Participated in the organization of a Palace coup and foreigners, who have provided sponsorship to bribe the right people.

    In 1762, the Empress was fully prepared for a drastic step – she went to St. Petersburg, where she took the oath of the guards, who by that time was already unhappy with the military policies of Emperor Peter III. After that, he abdicated, was imprisoned and soon died under unknown circumstances. Two months later, on 22 September 1762, Sophia Frederic August of Anhalt-Zerbst was crowned in Moscow and became Russian Empress Catherine II.

    The reign and achievements of Catherine II

    From the very first day of his accession to the throne the Queen clearly articulated their assessment tasks and began to implement it. She quickly formulated and carried out reforms in the Russian Empire, which affected all spheres of life of the population. Catherine the Great pursued a policy taking into account the interests of all classes, than won the tremendous support of the citizens.

    To get the Russian Empire out of a financial quagmire, the Queen held secularization and took the lands of the churches, turning them into secular property. This allowed us to pay off the army and replenish the Treasury of the Empire 1 million of serfs. However, she smartly managed to establish trade in Russia, increasing two times the number of industrial enterprises in the country. Thanks to this, the amount of revenue has increased four times, the Empire was able to contain a large army and begin the development of the Urals.

    As for the domestic policy of Catherine, today it is called «absolutism», because the Empress was trying to achieve the «common good» for society and the state. The absolutism of Catherine II was marked by the adoption of new legislation, which was adopted on the basis of the Order of the Empress Catherine,» contains 526 articles. Due to the fact that the policy of the Queen still had «podboranky character, from 1773 to 1775, she was faced with a peasant uprising under the leadership of Yemelyan Pugachev. The peasant war had covered almost the entire Empire, but the state army was able to suppress the rebellion and to arrest Pugachev, who was later executed.

    In 1775 Catherine the Great held the territorial division of the Empire and expanded Russia into 11 provinces. During her reign Russia acquired Azov, Coburn, Kerch, Crimea, Kuban, and a part of Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and the Western part of Volyn. At the same time in the country was introduced by elected courts, which dealt with criminal and civil cases in the population.

    In 1785 the Empress organized by the local government. At the same time, Catherine II brought a strong set of noble privileges – she freed nobles from taxes, compulsory military service, and are entitled to possess land and serfs. Thanks to the Empress of Russia has introduced a system of secondary education, which was built special closed schools, institutes for girls, an orphanage. In addition, Catherine founded the Russian Academy, which became one of the leading European scientific bases.

    Special attention during the reign of Catherine was devoted to the development of agriculture. For the first time in Russia began to sell the bread that people could buy with paper money also put into circulation by the Empress. Also to the victories of the monarch include the introduction of vaccination in Russia, helped prevent epidemics of deadly diseases in the country, thereby maintaining the population.

    During the reign of Catherine the great survived 6 wars, which have received the sought-after trophies in the form of land. Her foreign policy of many to this day consider to be immoral and hypocritical. But the woman managed to enter the history of Russia as a mighty monarch, which has become an example of patriotism for future generations of the country, despite the absence of even a drop of Russian blood.

    Personal life

    Personal life of Catherine II is a legendary character and to this day is of interest. The Empress was favorable to the «free love» that was the result of her failed marriage with Peter III.

    Romance novels of Catherine the great was a series of scandals, and the list of her favorites contains 23 names, as evidenced by data from a reputable Ekaterinoslav.

    The best-known lovers Queen became Grigory Orlov, Alexander Lanskoy, Grigory Potemkin and Platon Zubov, who at the age of 20 became a favorite 60-year-old Catherine the great. Historians do not exclude that the love affair of the Empress was her kind of weapon with which it carried out its activities on the Royal throne.

    It is known that Catherine the great had three children – a son from her legal marriage to Peter III, Paul Petrovich, Alexei Bobrinsky, born from Orlov, and his daughter Anna Petrovna, who at one year of age died from the disease.

    In the last years of his life, the Empress devoted herself to the care of grandchildren and heirs, as they were in a bad relationship with his son Paul. She wanted to transfer power to the crown to his eldest grandson, Alexander, whom he personally trained to the Royal throne. But her plans were not to happen, as its rightful heir learned about the plan of the mother and carefully prepared for the struggle for the throne.

    The death of Catherine II came a new style November 17, 1796. The Empress died from a massive stroke a few hours she tossed and turned in agony and never regained consciousness, died in agony. She was buried in Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.


    The image of Catherine the great is very often used in modern cinema. Her bright and vivid biography based writers all over the world, as the great Russian Empress Catherine II had a stormy life filled with intrigue, conspiracy, romance novels and the struggle for the throne, but became one of the most worthy rulers of the Russian Empire.

    In 2015, Russia started showing captivating historical series «Great», for the scenario which was taken the facts from the diaries of the Queen, which was «man-ruler» and not the feminine mother and wife.


    Katerina Big

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