Catherine The Great | Biography, accomplishments & Death — What Insider

Catherine the Great (Born on May 2, 1729, in Szczecin, Germany (today Poland) — Died on November 17, 1796, in Saint Petersburg, Russia), was also known as Catherine II, was the Empress of Russia from 1762 until his death. She was the country’s longest-ruling female leader.

She was the elder daughter of Prince Anhalt-Zerbst and Joanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp, Catherine came to power as a result of a palace coup that overthrew her unpopular husband Peter III from the throne. The Catherine era was marked by the maximum slavery of the peasants and the comprehensive expansion of the privileges of the nobility.

During his reign, the Russian Empire improved its administration and continued to modernize. Catherine’s reign revitalized Russia, which grew even more strongly and became known as one of the greatest European powers.

Quick Facts: Catherine The Great

  • Born: May 2, 1729, in Szczecin, Germany (today Szczecin, Poland)

The Early Life of Catherine The Great

Sofia Federica Augusta von Anhalt-Zerbst, better known as Catherine the Great, was born on April 21, 1729, in Stettin, Prussia. She was the daughter of Christian Augustus, prince of Anhalt -Zerbst, a minor member of German royalty, and her mother was Joanna Elizabeth of Holstein-Gottorp.

Little Sofia’s father was a Prussian general and governor of the city where the family was based: Stettin. On the maternal side, she was related to Gustavo III and Carlos XIII of Sweden. The education of the young woman was in charge of French tutors and governesses, considered at the time the highest and most refined of European culture.

Little else is known about the early years of the future Catherine the Great, but it was at this time that her love of Western-style knowledge and the philosophers of the Enlightenment developed whom she always held in high esteem and which was a voracious reader.

For the Russian empress, the educational issue was of utmost importance. She was immersed in the postulates of the enlightened philosophers, which at first made her believe that she could improve the government if she managed to raise the intellectual level of the citizens.

He consulted with British educators such as Daniel Dumaresq, whom he named part of the Education Commission which addressed the educational reforms that were necessary for the country. Like many other Catalina reform projects, the suggestions of this commission were not implemented.

However, Catherine II did concern herself with creating new educational institutions aimed at both females and males. During her reign, the first Russian orphanage was created in the city of Moscow, but it failed. The first Russian girls’ school was also born in the days of Catherine the Great.

Both noble and bourgeois youth were admitted to the academy and it was called the “Smolny Institute”. Another of the efforts that Catherine tried to make in favor of Russian academic instruction in 1786 was the National Education Statute.

In said decree she ordered that public schools be created in the main cities, they were to admit young people of any social class, except serfs. The results of that experiment were not encouraging at all since the bulk of the population preferred to send their children to private institutions and the numbers of young people benefiting from the plan were very low.

Marriage With Peter III

She met her future husband, the Grand Duke Peter (later known as Peter III), on a trip to Russia at the invitation of Empress Elisabeth, Peter Tante, who rules Russia after turning on in a coup. Elizabeth, single and childless, had named Peter as her heir to the Russian throne.

Peter, although the Romanov legacy, was a German prince. His mother was Anna, the daughter of Peter the Great of Russia, and his father was the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. Peter the Great had 14 children, survived by his two wives, only three of them until adulthood. His son Alexei died in prison, sentenced to fall from his father’s graph.

His older daughter Anna was the mother of Grand Duke Peter, who married Catherine. Anna died in 1728 after the birth of her only son, a few years after the death of her father, and while her mother Catherine I was ruled by Russia.

Catherine the Great (or Catherine II) converted Orthodoxy, changed her name, and married the Grand Duke Peter in 1745. Although Catherine had the support of Peter’s mother, Empress Elisabeth, she liked her husband-Catherine later wrote that she had been more interested in the crown as the person and first Peter and then Catherine was unfaithful.

Her first son Paul, later emperor (or czar) of Russia as Paul I, was born nine years into the marriage, and some questioned whether his father was Catherine’s husband. Her second child, daughter Anna, was probably conceived by Stanislaw Poniatowski. Her youngest child Alexei was most likely the son of Grigory Orlov. All three have been officially registered, however, like Peter’s children.

Coronation of Catherine The Great

When Tsarina Elizabeth died at the end of 1761, Peter became ruler when Peter III and Catherine became the empress’s wife. She kept on escaping how many thought Peter would divorce her, but Peter’s actions as emperor soon led to a coup against him.

Catherine II of Russia was crowned on September 22, 1762, in Moscow. During a pompous and luxurious ceremony, the Russian Empire celebrated the rise of its new ruler. From that event emerged some of the most important family heirlooms that members of the Romanov dynasty made use of until the end of their existence, such as the Russian imperial crown.

Although Catherine did not belong to the Romanovs by blood, she was a descendant of the Rurik dynasty, one of the oldest royal houses in Russia and the founders of the Tsarist system. Unlike Peter III, Catherine the Great gave herself totally to her nation and put Russia’s interests first.

I felt a sincere desire to transform the Empire, a power prosperous, and advanced was at the level of the best European countries. Finding himself in such a fragile position he decided to maintain a peaceful relationship with Prussia and Frederick the Great.

In 1764 he sent Stanisław August Poniatowski to Poland asking, who had been one of his lovers and who had great respect for Catherine. Poland was divided between Prussia, Russia, and Austria three times: the first was in 1772, the second in 1793 (without Austria), and the third in 1795. This was how these countries eliminated the possibility of Poland emerging as a regional power.

Russian-Turkish War

Catherine II’s perfect excuse to continue the Russian legal and political system without taking into account the reforms proposed by her commission was the conflict that broke out in 1768 between the Russian and Ottoman Empire.

Originally published at on June 11, 2020.

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