Courtesy of Wikipedia

" I shall be an autocrat: that's my trade. And the good Lord will forgive me: that's His."

199: Catherine the Great

Russian Empress

Born: 2 May 1729, Ducal Castle, Present-day Szczecin, Poland

Died: 17 November 1796, Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

In Russian: Yekaterina Velikaya

Also Known As: Catherine II

She was an ethnically German born princess but was chosen to marry the heir of Russia—who happened to be the grandson of Peter the Great—their eighteen years of marriage were nothing but disappointment and embarrassment for Catherine.

She became Empress and held the reins of power because her husband was completely incompetent in practically every way.

During her husband’s life she had three confirmed lovers (and its possible none of her three children were fathered by her husband). As soon as her husband took the throne, he made it abundantly clear how much he hated Russia—the country he was literally emperor of—and how much he loved Germany (where his family was from). He was only emperor for six months before Catherine rallied the armies against him and he abdicated and was assassinated eight days later.

She would remain empress for thirty-two years.

Catherine’s reign was successful in replenishing the national treasury and in taking new lands (she annexed Crimea into Russia) but also had hardships including the largest uprising seen in Russia before the 1917 Revolution. Because of her attitude towards serfdom ninety-five percent of the people living in Russia were either unaffected or negatively affected by her reign in terms of autonomy and personal property.

She had many lovers over her lifetime (over a dozen) but never a horse—that was just a vicious rumor.

In 2020, the streaming service Hulu released a new historical drama that is almost entirely fictional, but still hilarious and great at capturing the soul of its main characters. The Great arrived to great fanfare on the platform in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and might I just add...Huzzah!

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked

Located in My Personal Library:

Alexandra: The Last Tsarina by Carolly Erickson

Bad Days in History by Michael Farquhar

History’s Naughty Bits by Karen Dolby

Lost Bodies by Jenni Davis

National Geographic History Magazine Article "Princess Tarakanova, Pretender to the Russian Throne" (July/August 2019 Edition)

One Bloody Thing After Another by Jacob F Field

Royal Love Stories by Gill Paul

Sex With the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics by Eleanor Herman

Uppity Women Speak Their Minds by Vicki Leon

Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser

Who Knew? Women in History: Questions That Will Make You Think Again by Sarah Herman

Additional Sources: