5 Interesting Facts about Empress Catherine II
With good reason known to these days as Catherine the Great, the Russian Empress was one of the most fascinating and powerful rulers ever. Despite her being an outsider, coming from the German city of Settin, she managed to reach the very top of the Russian Empire at the age of 33 years old when, with the guards’ support, she overthrew her husband, Peter III, seized his throne and killed him. 9th July 1762, that is to say exactly 225 years ago, marked the beginning of the Golden Age of the Empire. Let’s now see together some of the most interesting facts about this intelligent, cultured and sensitive woman.
1. Loooong name
Her name before marriage was Sophia Fredrica Augusta Anhalt-Zeibst (quite long, isn’t it?). After she came to Russia, in order to marry the czar, she was baptized and named Catherine Alekseevna (Екатерина Алексеевна).
2. A tomboy
When she was a child, they used to call her “Fike”, which means “little Friedrich” for her habit of spending too much time playing with boys, something really unexpected and unappropriate for a miss.
3. Busy social life
Her daily routine was far away from every expectations: of her very strict schedule of meetings with high-ranking officials and state secretaries, that remained unchanged throughout her entire reign, only her hours of sleep varied. Indeed, while at the beginning she used to wake up at 5am, grown older she used to hit the snooze till 6am or 7am and go to sleep at 10 or 11pm.
4. Hypocrisy or humilty?
Even if she was one of the most cultured persone of her time (for many years she had a correspondence with Voltaire and other important figures of the European Enlightment), even if she diligently studied literature, art and culture in general, even if she founded many theatres and substantially boosted the cultural life in her new homeland, she used to admit she did not have a creative mind. Was it hypocrisy or just humility? In any case, that’s not true, also because she wrote many plays and novels.
5. A loveful woman
The list of the Empress’ lovers contains at least 20 names, including Sergei Saltykov, a chamberlain, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, the future king of Poland, and Grigory Orlov, with whom she has a 12 years long love affair. This life style was certainly not typical for the Russian court of her time, nor even for the European ones, as only men were legitimised to have other women in addition to their wives, and not the reverse. However, the thing is that at that time there weren’t many women in power and, of course, there weren’t women as Catherine.
This blog was brought to you by Lucia, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz.