Catherine the Great (1729-1796). This woman was the empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796. With her, the country expanded considerably in the west and south. Catherine greatly reformed the system of public administration. With it, Russia was finally entrenched among the world’s leading powers.
The Empress herself was fond of literature, corresponded with European enlighteners, collected masterpieces of painting. With her, the nobility survived the “golden age”, and the peasants were finally enslaved. Catherine was born in Prussia, she came to power with the help of a palace coup. Guardsmen arrested Tsar Peter III, who soon died suddenly. Luckily for Russia, Catherine was a wise ruler. But her personal life was mixed. The Empress surrounded herself with favorites, which caused a lot of gossip and gossip.
Today, Catherine’s activities for the benefit of Russia are generally assessed positively, but numerous myths about this bright person hinder the objective assessment. And modern films and serials only add confusion – for the sake of scandal, intrigue and plot, historical facts are simply ignored. Some myths about Catherine the Great will be examined by us.
Catherine was not beautiful.
The self-proclaimed Sofya Augusta Frederika herself said that she received a great sensitivity and, if not an attractive, attractive appearance. Catherine wrote that in her youth she liked at first sight, without applying any effort. The Empress was a brunette of medium height. There were defects in her appearance, which she knew and fought with them. The woman was inclined to fullness. And as soon as she had a double chin, she immediately developed a posture of herself in order to hide it. One of the foreign ambassadors recalled that the figure of the Empress was noble and pleasant, and her gait was proud. The woman’s mannerisms were full of grace, she had a regal look. The men admired Catherine.
Sophia Augusta Frederic was brought up like a real princess.
Catherine’s father was Field Marshal Christian August Anhalt-Zerbstsky. And although the prince had a loud title and a genealogy, he was never rich. The nobleman served the Prussian king, was the governor of the city of Stettin. Sophia in childhood had to play in the square with the children of ordinary burghers. Her mother gave her slaps for the poor cleaning of the boilers. The girl had to kiss respectfully the hem of the dresses of the wives of wealthy townspeople when they entered the house. And only thanks to a happy occasion the princess became the bride of the heir to the Russian throne. Naturally, nobody saw it at the head of the state. In Russia, Catherine came with only a few shirts. Once, already in 1762, her friend, Princess Dashkova, discovered a princess washing her lace cuffs in a trough. Catherine calmly replied that there was nothing to be surprised at, she was prepared to marry a petty German prince, teaching and washing, and messing with children.
Catherine hated her husband, Peter III.
This statement seems logical – Catherine ousted her hated husband. But the relationship between the spouses was quite complicated. Peter married at a fairly early age, at 17 years old. His bride was even less – 16. The bridegroom at that time was a notorious young man who loves to play soldiers. Unlike her eccentric husband, Fiske was an active and energetic girl who perfectly saw her future. About her husband, Catherine wrote that she can not clearly say whether she liked Peter or not, she could only then obey. Her mother’s main task was to marry her daughter. But Catherine herself liked the Russian crown more than her husband’s personality. He was 17, he and his wife only talked about soldiers and their toys that occupied him all day. The girl had to listen to Peter out of courtesy, catering to him. But there was no language of love between them, and she did not have to start this topic. Over time, Peter began to see his wife in the wife, complaining to her on various issues.But at some point the husband began to interfere with Catherine on her way to power. She did not want to kill him, but there were circumstances. Either the guards overdid it, or the fatal role played by Peter’s weak health.
The son of Catherine, Paul, was born not of Peter, but of a lover.
And yet Paul was born, most likely from Peter. This is evidenced by the external similarity and similarity of temperaments. Saltykov’s statements about his fatherhood remain an empty boastfulness. And Catherine herself never told her husband that her son was not from him, as shown in the series. Such a confession of her infidelity would have cost her at least imprisonment in a monastery, as a maximum – the death penalty. The baby was immediately taken away from Catherine, he was brought up for some time by the approximate Elizabeth. In the first years of marriage marriage between Peter and Catherine was not. The cause was cold relations and a tender age. Paul was born only after 9 years of marriage, when Elizabeth directly demanded from Catherine to give birth to the heir. Before the birth of her son, the princess had two more unsuccessful pregnancies.
Catherine had hundreds of lovers.
In her personal life, Catherine was not an ascetic. Up to 43 years old, she had only three lover. With Grigory Orlov, communication was the strongest, it lasted 11 years. As a result, the son Alexey Bobrinsky appeared. The novels with Sergei Saltykov and Stanislav Poniatowski were fleeting. But after the death of Orlov Catherine dispersed. She always had beautiful young men who served her for a simple purpose. The woman needed to spend her time well, so that she could work better for the good of the country. For their service the young favorites received an award, but they had to follow certain rules. They had no right to leave the rooms of Catherine without her permission, they could not accept invitations without her knowledge and had to devote all their time to the empress. If the favorite was no longer interested in the Empress, he was immediately dismissed. He received a good rank and dowry. The exception was Grigory Potemkin. He managed to become not only a lover, but also a close friend, ally before his death. With the Potemkin empress even had time to marry. Historians were able to roughly calculate the number of Catherine’s lovers. They turned out to be about 20 (13 according to other sources), but not hundreds. For the time when European monarchs regularly changed their favorites, this behavior was not considered out of the ordinary. Naturally, the strong feelings of young people to an aging woman can not be said.
Catherine’s chosen lovers went straight to her bed.
The applicant for the role of the lover of the Empress was tested for the possibility of performing intimate duties. This rite was passed by all her favorites. Intended to be a hostage, the man was examined by the physician-physician Rogerson, and then sent to Protasova for trial for a three-night trial. If the man showed himself, the maid of honor reported to the empress about the trustworthiness of the man. The day after the first meeting, the new favorite was assigned to his already permanent rooms, they were given a uniform with a diamond bra and one hundred thousand rubles for pocket expenses. The metropolitan came to the favorite on the same day and blessed with holy water.
Favorites did not receive anything from Catherine.
The empress generously endowed her lovers with her lover. So, her last favorite, Platon Zubov, for himself and his family begged money, estates, serfs. In just two years, the lover received about 3.5 million rubles in silver – a colossal condition for those times. But there were also lands and serfs. Potemkin and Bezborodko for their needs received 50 million rubles, and in fact a lot more and stole, controlling the country. Relations with the brothers Orlov cost Catherine 17 million rubles, in addition to land and serfs. Lansky empress paid 8 million, even Zorich and Korsakov, who briefly stayed near Catherine, received a million.In addition, all the favorites climbed into debt, which the empress paid generously. English strips Harris somehow calculated what the cost of the country all the favorites of the queen. The amount of cash was about 100 million rubles. And this, taking into account the country’s total budget of 80 million a year, was a huge sum.
Catherine rules quietly, without fear of conspiracies.
All her life, Catherine was haunted by a sense of unlawful accession to the throne. Not only that she overthrew her husband, so he also died. The ghost of Peter III did not leave Catherine alone. During the years of her rule, at least seven proclaimed themselves overthrown by the tsar. The most famous impostor is Emelyan Pugachev. Twice the conspirators tried to free John Antonovich, the great grandson of Tsar Ivan V, brother of Peter I, from prison. This right to the Russian throne was clearly greater than that of the visiting Prussian princess. In the course of another attempt to liberate Tsar Ivan VI, he was killed by guards.
Catherine took Russia in ruin, and left prosperous.
It is often written that the reign of Catherine is the golden age for the country. With her, indeed, the Russian Empire has grown significantly. But this happened mainly due to the sections of the Commonwealth and the conquest of the Crimea. Each year, an average of four cities arose in the country. Russia began to play an important role in world trade. With it, new educational institutions appeared, medicine developed. It is interesting that when Catherine ascended the throne, she immediately began to complain about the lack of funds in the treasury. In her memoirs the empress wrote that everything was in decline, the army did not receive a salary for three months. However, Catherine was cunning. Even after the Seven Years’ War, the country’s finances were not depleted. The budget deficit in 1762 was only 8% of revenues – about one million rubles. At the same time, Catherine herself contributed to this, during the first six months of the reign, generously rewarding participants in the coup with money and peasants. And the depletion of finance occurred just under the reign of Catherine. For the first time, Russia had an external debt. After the death of the Empress, it turned out that the government’s debts amount to 205 million rubles, expenses exceed revenues, and the treasury is empty. While the West was booming with the industrial revolution, Russian production remained patriarchal and feudal. As a result, in the last years of Catherine’s reign, an acute social and economic crisis broke out in Russia, which grew into a financial crisis. Pushkin also wrote that historians still have to appreciate the despotism of the empress, hidden under her meekness. The people had to endure the governors, the treasury was plundered by Catherine’s lovers, many mistakes were made in domestic politics.
Catherine sold Alaska to America.
This myth appeared, thanks to the song of the band “Lyube”. The musicians said: “Catherine, you were not right!”. However, it only began to develop this region. And the sale of Alaska occurred in 1867 under Alexander II.
Catherine poisoned Johann Lestocq, wanting to replace the wife of the heir.
Such a myth appeared, thanks to the TV series “Catherine”. Allegedly, the intriguer Lestocka was exposed and executed. In fact, the bride of Peter III really seriously ill and miraculously escaped death. The fact that she arrived zealously began to learn Russian, sitting in the cold evenings by the window. This turned into a serious pneumonia, the life of the princess was in jeopardy. There was no poisoning. Lestok really did court intrigues, but they had nothing to do with Catherine. In disgrace, the medical doctor got in touch with the French Ambassador Shetardi. Lestoca was tortured in the Secret Chancellery, and then sent to exile instead of the death penalty. When the tsar became Peter III, he freed the noble, returning to him the ranks and confiscated property.
The palace coup that led to the throne of Catherine was spontaneous.
June 28, 1762, there were events that made Catherine the Empress. But the coup was not at all spontaneous, it was prepared for several months. The conspiracy involved prominent politicians and military.At that time, the Guards and the Russian nobility were dissatisfied with the policy pursued by Peter III. In particular, the top did not like the fact that the emperor concluded an unprofitable peace agreement with the already virtually defeated Prussia. During the coup, a rumor was launched that Peter wanted to introduce Lutheranism in Russia, which did not correspond to reality. Catherine even turned for help to foreigners, receiving 60 thousand rubles from the French and 100 thousand from the British.
The reason for the coup was the attempt to arrest Catherine.
An attempt to arrest the wife of the heir, as well as an armed clash of guardsmen with agents of the Secret Chancery, as shown in the series “Catherine” in reality did not happen.
Catherine ordered to kill her husband.
On the morning of June 28, 1762, while Peter was in Oranienbaum, Catherine, along with the brothers Orlovs, came to St. Petersburg, where she was sworn by guardsmen, and then the army. Peter saw that it was useless to resist, he signed a renunciation and was taken into custody. He was sent to Ropsha, not far from the capital. A week later the emperor died. The rumors said that Alexei Orlov had killed him, but no evidence had been found. Officially, because of the abundant use of alcohol, Peter suffered diarrhea and an attack of hemorrhoidal colic. An autopsy showed that the wife of Catherine had heart dysfunction, inflammation of the intestine and signs of apoplexy. The rumor of the murder went from a copy of Orlov’s letter, but it turned out to be a late fake. Experts on the basis of evidence and documents confirm the possible violation of blood circulation in Peter III. The probability of a heart attack or stroke was really high.
Catherine was a great enlightener.
During the reign of Catherine, the territory of Russia has grown significantly. But she herself did practically nothing to alleviate the fate of the population. Her attempts at government reforms have become bogged down in the bureaucracy. But the Empress herself considered enlightened herself. She wrote many books, brochures, educational materials designed to improve education in Russia. Catherine corresponded with Voltaire and other prominent figures of the era. She created one of the most impressive collections of art – the Hermitage. The activities of the great enlightener were twofold. It meant the need to change the existing order, but at the same time, Catherine could not tolerate shocks, infringement of the nobility. But she herself understood the tragic insurmountability of such a situation. The government of her rightly called the era of enlightened absolutism.
Catherine died while trying to enter into sexual relations with the stallion.
Myths about the many lovers of Catherine grew into an even more scandalous legend. It is said that the insatiable empress with the help of ropes tried to drag a stallion, which eventually became the cause of her death. In fact, there is no evidence of Catherine’s attachment to horses. And this myth even formed the basis of the German porn of 1983 “Catherine and her wild stallions.” The rumors themselves could have come from revolutionary France; there similar rumors spread about Marie Antoinette.
Catherine died from injuries sustained from a night pot that fell apart under her body.
One of the most popular myths about Catherine’s death is her death on a night pot. But the toilet, in which the Empress lost her creation, was one of the first full-fledged latrines in Europe with a water pipe and a toilet. Stylchak for him, Catherine ordered to make from the Polish throne of the Piast dynasty. On November 16, 1796, the Empress stayed in the restroom in the morning more than usual. The valet opened the door and saw a body falling to the floor. The woman’s eyes were closed, her face turned purple, and her throats rattled. Catherine suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Heavy body on the bed could not be put – the dying man was placed on the moroccan mattress on the floor. Doctors vainly made efforts to save the queen – the next evening she died.