July 9 - Catherine the Great Ascendant!

Posted on July 9, 2020

The Golden Age of Russia!

On this date in 1762, Catherine II, later called "the Great," became Empress of Russia.

Under her more than 3-decades-long rule, Russia became one of the great powers of Europe and Asia. The nation became larger as well as stronger, with gains of territory in the south, west, and even - with the Russian colonization of Alaska - the east. 

Many new cities and towns were founded on her orders, and nobles, freed of compulsory state service, built mansions that changed the look of the cities and towns that already existed. 

Catherine was a patron of the arts; she established the first state-financed higher education institution for women in all of Europe; and she is credited with continuing to modernize Russia along the lines of Peter the Great. 

Did you know...?

Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, was born in Prussia (now Germany). Her name was Sophie. Actually, her name was Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg! 

Although Sophie (later Catherine) was a princess, her family had little money. There were LOTS of royal families, and lots of princes and princesses in Europe, and so the competition to gain actual power was pretty fierce. Of course one way to gain power was to marry another royal, and Sophie was married off to someone she couldn't stand: the German young man Karl Peter Ulrich. When Catherine married him, Peter was the Tzar-to-be of Russia. He only ended up being Tzar Peter III for about half a year.

Peter III was German and could hardly speak Russian. He did make some good reforms in Russia, during his short reign, but he also very obviously favored Prussia (Germany). Some writers say that Russians hated their tzar.

Catherine, on the other hand, worked hard to learn Russian and to cultivate ties to both Russians and to their traditional allies. She organized people loyal to her to remove her husband from power and install her as the tsarina (or empress). 

Peter died not long after the coup that removed him from power. How he died is a mystery. He could have been assassinated. Some say that he was killed in a drunken fight with his bodyguard. An autopsy said that he died of apoplexy stroke, but the autopsy could have been fudged to please the powers-that-be.

There have been at least 11 TV series
and movies about Catherine the Great
over the years. Some more accurate
than others!!!

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