Catherine Ii

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Catherine Ii

"Women fell under her spell as well as men, for

underlying her engaging femininity was a masculine strength

which gave her the courage to present a bland and smiling

mask in the face of the greatest tribulations." Sophia Augusta

Frederica was born into a small Prussian kingdom in 1729.

Her hometown was in Stettin, Germany. Her birth was a

great disappointment to her parents, her father, Prince

Christian August of Anhalt- Zerbst and her mother, Johanna

Elizabeth, daughter of the prince of Holstein - Gottorp. Both

parents had hoped for a son. After they did finally have a

son, she was neglected even more. Although, when her

parents discovered that she had a good memory, they

encouraged her to study religion, history and geography.

Besides learning, Sophia also became more interested in

hunting and riding horses rather than what were considered

more feminine past times and was somewhat of a tomboy.

Throughout her life, her mother only spoke to her to criticize

her. Her father cared very much for her, but was too

engrossed with his military work to show her much affection.

She spent much time with her governess who taught her to

question everything and everybody and to trust her own

common sense. Her guidance from her governess and her

ability to be independent at a young age helped her to later

become a strong leader.



At a very young age, she wished to marry her second

cousin, Peter Ulrich, who later changed his name to Peter

Fyodorvich. Elizabeth I of Russia chose her to marry her

son, Peter Fyodorvich. Catherine prepared for the role of

czarina by studying the Russian language intently. Love

played no role in her thoughts to marry Peter; Catherine was

only interested in the throne. As a strict Lutheran,

Catherine's father was very unhappy about Catherine

marrying a Russian Orthodox. Her father wrote her letters

begging her not to abandon Lutheranism. Catherine was

determined to gain the respect of the Russian orthodox, so

when she became deathly ill, she called for a Russian

orthodox priest instead of a Lutheran. She won the trust and

sympathy of Russia. On June 28, 1744, Catherine was

baptized into the Russian orthodox faith. The next day she

and peter Fyodovich had an elaborate betrothal at the

Cathedral of St. Sophia. She married Peter in August

of1745, and their marriage was a disaster from the

beginning. Peter was very immature and spent most of his

time playing with toy soldiers. 2/1/952 "The marriage was a

complete failure. The following eighteen years were filled

with deception and humiliation for her." Peter hurt Catherine

deeply when he told her of women in the court that he loved

and thought were beautiful. Catherine became very lonely

and resorted to reading, by the time Catherine was 23, she

was even more intelligent. After many years, Catherine still

had not born a child with Peter. Elizabeth, determined to

have an heir, arranged for Catherine to bear a child with

another man. Catherine then chose her own lover, an

imperial guard officer and war hero, to have a child with.

Catherine had many lovers throughout her marriage to Peter

III. Soon after the birth of Catherine's second child,

Elizabeth grew very sick. As Elizabeth deteriorated, so did

Catherine and Peter's relationship. Catherine soon found a

new lover Grigory Orlov, a lieutenant in the palace guard, he

ended up being one of Catherine's most important allies.

After the death of Empress Elizabeth on December 25,

1761, peter no longer felt that he had to disguise his hatred

toward his wife. Catherine became powerless and could not

fight back because she was pregnant with Oriole's child.

Because Peter could use this evidence of infidelity against

her, she wore loose, heavy mourning clothes with long veils.

This clothing was appropriate to wear when Elizabeth's

body was displayed in the palace. For ten days after

Elizabeth's death, Catherine knelt in prayer, while Peter was

out laughing, drinking and having a good time at parties.

Catherine was clearly the model ruler.



After the death of his mother, Peter III began an even more

disastrous reign. He offended officials of the court and of the

church, while Catherine was busy gaining supporters through

her lover, Orlov and his brothers. One night, while drunk,

Peter announced that he planned to divorce Catherine.

14/2/69 News spread of the Tsar's scandalsous attack on

Cahterine. Instead, she and Orlov planned to overthrow him.

On the night of June 27, 1762, Orlov took Catherine away

to an army barracks where the solderis proclaimed her their

savior, and she took the throne. Peter was imprisoned and

was later put to death. Catherine was now the rightful

Empress

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