Catherine II of Russia

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Catherine II of Russia

Catherine II of Russia (Also titled Catherine the Great or Yekaterina Aleksei'evna) (April 21, 1729, Stettin, GermanyNovember 17, 1796 Tsarskoye Selo, Russia) was Empress of Russia. She greatly increased the power of the crown. She also increased Russian land, adding land in the west and south. This land included a part of Poland. During Catherine's rule, Russia became a strong power in Europe.

Life[change | change source]

Early life[change | change source]

Catherine was born in Stettin, which was a part of the Kingdom of Prussia at the time. She was the daughter of Prince Christian August of Anhalt-Zerbst and Princess Johanna Elizabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. She had five brothers and sisters. She married Peter III (who, like Catherine, was German) at age fifteen, and became empress of Russia at age 32. She was educated in three languages (Russian, German and French). She grew up as a Lutheran (Protestant). When she married Peter, she changed to the Russian Orthodox church.

Marriage[change | change source]

Catherine's marriage was said to be unfaithful and distraught. Peter and Catherine were each said to have several lovers. After they had been married nine years, Catherine bore a son, Paul. Paul was born on 1 October [O.S. 20 September] 1754. Both parents accepted him as legitimate, even though there had been rumors about Catherine having been unfaithful. Catherine also had a daughter Anna, born in 1757. Anna died in 1759. Catherine and Peter had a very difficult relationship. When Peter died, Catherine was left to rule Russia on her own. Catherine had many lovers, probably because of the difficult marriage. Over twenty lovers are known. A few of these seem to be more important:

Reign[change | change source]

Six months after Peter took the throne, Catherine led a palace coup to overthrow him. The question of who killed him and why is still much discussed. Catherine was greatly admired by the public. She was much involved in foreign affairs, including successful Russo-Turkish Wars which conquered new territories for Russia.

Death[change | change source]

Catherine suffered a stroke on 6 November [O.S. 5 November] 1796. Due to the stroke, she lost consciousness. She died in her bed at 9:20 the following evening, while she was still unconscious. Catherine was buried at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.