All Rights Reserved. Oft-mentioned is his strong interest in playing with toy military figurines, which he apparently sometimes took to bed with him. In July, six months after becoming emperor, Peter took a holiday to Oranienbaum, leaving his wife in St. Petersburg. The Most Powerful Man in Russia Propositioned Her. Though she is considered o… Here, the true story of how Catherine the Great overthrew her husband, Tsar Peter III. He made no attempts to hide his dislike of Russia and his love of his native Germany. The object was to strengthen the friendship between Prussia and Russia, to weaken the influence of Austria and to ruin the chancellor Aleksey Petrovich Bestuzhev-Ryumin, on whom Russian Empress Elizabethrelied, and who was a known partisan of the Austrian alliance. Born in Germany in 1728 as Charles Peter Ulrich of Holstein-Gottorp, Peter was the grandson of Peter the Great who ruled Russia from 1682-1725. ", Helen Mirren Will Play Catherine the Great, This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. Through her connections, Johanna managed to wangle an invitation to Russia for her 14-year-old daughter Catherine, to be hosted at the court of Empress Elizabeth, the current ruler of Russia. The empress is remembered as one of Russia’s greatest reformers. Her astonishing rise to power was all the more remarkable considering she didn't have a single drop of Russian blood in her body. 'Catherine on the balcony of the Winter Palace welcoming the Guards and the People on the day of the coup.'. The Great, Hulu's new show about Catherine the Great's less-than-ideal marriage—and her plans to ameliorate that situation—treads on familiar territory. Born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst, a minor German princess, she was selected by Empress Elizabeth to wed her heir, the future Peter III. After her successful coup against her ill-matched husband Peter III in 1762, Catherine realised that to marry again would be to relinquish her power. During their marriage Catherine took a multitude of lovers and so when her daughter Anna was born (who would live just 14 months), Peter believed the rumours that the child was not his. In 1762, Catherine, a talented equestrian, lead a group of 14,000 soldiers to unseat her husband. Catherine II, known as Catherine the Great, was a Prussian princess who became the queen consort of Russia through her marriage to Peter III. Here, the true story of how Catherine the Great overthrew her husband, Tsar Peter III. Eventually, in 1754, Catherine gave birth to a son Paul, although she would later imply in her memoirs that Paul was the son of her first lover, Sergei Saltykov. The future empress was not meant to rule. On 5 January 1762, Empress Elizabeth passed away, paving the way for Peter to become Emperor Peter III and Catherine his empress consort. It soon became clear to her that he was determined to end their marriage and take his mistress as his wife instead. To occupy herself during her famously unhappy marriage to Peter, who she'd later describe in her memoirs as stupid and too keen on alcohol, she immersed herself in her studies. He further alienated himself from the noble classes with a series of domestic liberal reforms that attempted to improve the lives of the poor. "The circumstances and cause of death, and the intentions and degree of responsibility of those involved," Catherine the Great biographer Robert K. Massie wrote, "can never be known. Catherine the Great was the most powerful woman of her time, whose 34-year reign, the longest by any female in Russian history, transformed her adopted homeland into a global superpower. Catherine also became weary of her husband’s intentions as he increasingly humiliated her in court. Town & Country participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. Catherine the Great and the coup that made her Empress Russia Kings and Queens Catherine the Great was the most powerful woman of her time, whose 34-year reign, the longest by any female in Russian history, transformed her adopted homeland into a global superpower. The smart, pretty and enigmatic young Catherine so impressed Elizabeth that the Empress looked to wed Catherine to her nephew, Peter, whom Elizabeth had chosen as her heir since she was unmarried and childless. The diplomatic intrigue failed, largely due to the intervention o… Elizabeth was herself childless, but selected her nephew, the German-born Peter, to succeed her. Contrarily, Catherine loved reading books and educating herself; the pair shared no common ground. Click here to find out more. This website uses cookies. Whether or not Catherine had a hand in his death is still up for historical debate but the death of Peter certainly marred the early years of Catherine’s rule. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-catherine-great-180974863 Russia was revitalized under her reign, growing larger and stronger and becoming recognized as one of the great powers of Europe. Catherine was Czarina for a period of 34 years till her death in November 1796, making her the longest-ruling female leader in the history of Russia. After his abdication, Peter was exiled to a location outside of St. Petersburg. Born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst… Despite the obvious personal differences, Catherine and Peter were wed in 1745. After her conversion to Orthodoxy, she took the name Catherine. Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. Alexei Orlov, Grigory's brother, killed Peter III in prison. The choice of Princess Sophie as wife of the future tsar was one result of the Lopukhina Conspiracy in which Count Lestocq and Prussian king Frederick the Great took an active part. With the close ties to the military, noble classes and the church, the bored and humiliated 33-year-old Catherine saw an opportunity for change and began plotting a coup with her military officer lover Grigory Orlov. Their financial shortcomings were countered by their numerous noble connections, something Catherine's mother, Princess Johanna Elisabeth, ambitiously exploited to aid the family’s prospects. If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material. Born a minor German princess, the royal was never supposed to reign over Russia. The following day she raced to gain the support of the most powerful military regiment in Russia. Catherine faced down more than a dozen uprisings during her reign. Upon arriving in Russia, Catherine converted to the Russian Orthodox Church, took the name Ekaterina Alexeievna (Catherine) and set about learning the language. The throne, however, was never meant to be Catherine’s; it was something, in the end, she had to seize for herself. Catherine would later claim in her memoirs that she had saved Russia ‘from the disaster that all this Prince’s moral and physical faculties promised.’. Thus Catherine left no one to dispute her claim to the throne. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. The family resided in the Prussian city of Stettin (modern Szczecin, Poland) and although Catherine was born a princess, her family had little money. The next day she left the palace and departed for the Izmailovsky regiment, where she asked the soldiers to protect her from her husband. Historians have debated the accuracy of these claims, Paul's striking resemblance to Peter leading many to believe he was the boy's father. He angered the Church as well by passing a law that promised religious freedom for Russians. Weak-willed, immature, self-absorbed and boorish, Peter disliked traditional learning but loved all things military, including playing with toy figurines. She wanted to shake her Germanic past and embrace her Russian future.