Catherine the Great: Love, Sex and Power, by Virginia Rounding
Anna Rosina Lisiewska, Grand Duke Peter and Grand Duchess Catherine .. relationship between art and power in the reign of Catherine the Great. Catherine the Great (Illustration) Biographies Famous People Social Johanna of Holstein-Gottorp) had a close connection to the Russian him a new name: Grand Duke Peter Fyodorovich (meaning “Peter son of Fyodor"). Catherine the Great, also known as Yekaterina Alexeevna or Once she had recovered, she began her relationship to Grand Duke Peter.
With threats and bribes of vodka and money, the brothers set up the guards against Peter. Peter was late in leaving Oranienbaum due to a hangover and his daily habit of reviewing his Holstein troops. He was to meet Catherine at Peterhof but when he arrived, she was not there. Eventually, Peter and the few advisers he had with him began to suspect what was happening. Peter began sending members of his entourage to St. Petersburg to find out what was happening but none returned.
He did manage to learn that Catherine had proclaimed herself Empress and that senior government officials, the clergy, and all the Guards supported her. Peter ordered his Holstein guards to take up defensive positions at Peterhof. They did so but were afraid to tell Peter that they had no cannon balls to fire. Peter thought about fleeing but was told that there were no horses available because his entourage had all arrived in carriages.
Learning that Catherine and the Guards were approaching Peterhof, Peter made a desperate decision to sail Kronstadt, a fortress on an island. Upon arrival, Peter was refused admittance because all those in the fortress had sworn allegiance to Catherine. Peter rejected the advice of his advisors to go to the Prussian army and returned to Oranienbaum. Peter and his Holstein guards were behind the gates at Oranienbaum and the Alexei Orlov and his men had surrounded Oranienbaum.
Catherine sent Grigori Orlov along with a Russian general to Oranienbaum insisting that Peter must write out a formal announcement of abdication in his own handwriting. Orlov was to deal with the abdication and the general was to lure Peter out of Oranienbaum and back to Peterhof to prevent any bloodshed. Orlov rode back to Peterhof with the signed abdication announcement and the general convinced Peter to go to Peterhof and beg Catherine for mercy.
Catherine II on a balcony of the Winter Palace on 28 Junethe day of the coup; Credit — Wikipedia Catherine had to deal with the same dilemma that Empress Elizabeth had to deal with regarding Ivan VI who she had deposed — keeping a former emperor around was a threat to her throne. Catherine intended to send Peter to Shlisselburg Fortress where Ivan VI had been imprisoned for more than twenty years.
However, Catherine did not have to live with a living deposed emperor for long. It is possible that Peter was murdered by Alexei Orlov. Another story is that Peter had been killed in a drunken brawl with one of his jailers. The Imperial Crown of Russia was created for her coronation and was used at the coronation for each subsequent Romanov emperor. A photo of a copy of the crown is below. The borders of the Russian Empire were significantly extended to the west and to the south.
Catherine reformed the government administration and many new cities and towns were founded on her orders. The economy continued to depend on serfdom and the increasing demands of the state and private landowners led to increased levels of reliance on serfs. Russia finally became one of the great European cultural powers, promoted by Catherine herself. She was fond of literary activity, collecting masterpieces of painting and corresponding with French Enlightenment writers like Voltaire.
The Smolny Institutethe first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established. Most long-term relationships came to an end after a few years. Only a few of her lovers were allowed to interfere in the governmental affairs, although the others often tried. None of her lovers were persecuted or punished after their affair was over. On the contrary, most of them received generous gifts from Catherine.
Catherine the Great
Catherine gave birth to at least three children listed above and to a possible four others. Among the lovers and favorites of Catherine, these stand out: He was probably the father of her daughter Anna. Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin had a career in the civil service, was a member of the Imperial Council and president of the War College. He fell out of favor when he left Catherine in favor of a sixteen-year-old lady-in-waiting but Catherine treated him kindly until her death.
Several bank branches were afterwards established in other towns, called government towns. Paper notes were issued upon payment of similar sums in copper money, which were also refunded upon the presentation of those notes.
The emergence of these Assignation rubles was necessary due to large government spending on military needs, which led to a shortage of silver in the treasury transactions, especially in foreign trade, were conducted almost exclusively in silver and gold coins. Assignation rubles circulated on equal footing with the silver ruble; a market exchange rate for these two currencies was ongoing. The use of these notes continued until Russian Enlightenment Marble statue of Catherine II in the guise of Minerva —by Fedot Shubin Catherine had a reputation as a patron of the arts, literature, and education.
The Hermitage Museumwhich now [update] occupies the whole Winter Palacebegan as Catherine's personal collection. She wrote comedies, fiction, and memoirs, while cultivating VoltaireDiderotand d'Alembert —all French encyclopedists who later cemented her reputation in their writings.
The leading economists of her day, such as Arthur Young and Jacques Neckerbecame foreign members of the Free Economic Societyestablished on her suggestion in Saint Petersburg in Catherine enlisted Voltaire to her cause, and corresponded with him for 15 years, from her accession to his death in He lauded her accomplishments, calling her "The Star of the North" and the " Semiramis of Russia" in reference to the legendary Queen of Babylona subject on which he published a tragedy in Though she never met him face to face, she mourned him bitterly when he died.
She acquired his collection of books from his heirs, and placed them in the National Library of Russia. Four years later, inshe endeavoured to embody in legislation the principles of Enlightenment she learned from studying the French philosophers.
She called together at Moscow a Grand Commission—almost a consultative parliament—composed of members of all classes officials, nobles, burghersand peasants and of various nationalities. The Commission had to consider the needs of the Russian Empire and the means of satisfying them.
The Empress herself prepared the "Instructions for the Guidance of the Assembly"pillaging as she frankly admitted the philosophers of Western Europe, especially Montesquieu and Cesare Beccaria.
As many of the democratic principles frightened her more moderate and experienced advisors, she refrained from immediately putting them into practice.
After holding more than sittings, the so-called Commission dissolved without getting beyond the realm of theory.
In spite of this, Catherine began issuing codes to address some of the modernisation trends suggested in her Nakaz. The statute sought to efficiently govern Russia by increasing population and dividing the country into provinces and districts.
Catherine II (the Great), Empress of All Russia | Unofficial Royalty
By the end of her reign, 50 provinces and nearly districts were created, more than double the government officials were appointed, and they were spending six times as much as previously on local government. InCatherine conferred on the nobility the Charter to the Nobilityincreasing further the power of the landed oligarchs.
Nobles in each district elected a Marshal of the Nobility, who spoke on their behalf to the monarch on issues of concern to them, mainly economic ones. In the same year, Catherine issued the Charter of the Towns, which distributed all people into six groups as a way to limit the power of nobles and create a middle estate. Inthe Empress described to Voltaire her legal innovations within a backward Russia as progressing "little by little".
During Catherine's reign, Russians imported and studied the classical and European influences that inspired the Russian Enlightenment.
Gavrila DerzhavinDenis Fonvizinand Ippolit Bogdanovich laid the groundwork for the great writers of the 19th century, especially for Alexander Pushkin.
Catherine became a great patron of Russian opera.
- Catherine II (the Great), Empress of All Russia
When Alexander Radishchev published his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow in one year after the start of the French Revolution and warned of uprisings because of the deplorable social conditions of the peasants held as serfsCatherine exiled him to Siberia.
I could only stare at her. Firstly I was very surprised at her small stature; I had imagined her to be very tall, as great as her fame. She was also very fat, but her face was still beautiful, and she wore her white hair up, framing it perfectly.
Her genius seemed to rest on her forehead, which was both high and wide. Her eyes were soft and sensitive, her nose quite Greek, her colour high and her features expressive. She addressed me immediately in a voice full of sweetness, if a little throaty: I am very fond of the arts, especially painting. I am no connoisseur, but I am a great art lover. I have said that she was quite small, and yet on the days when she made her public appearances, with her head held high, her eagle-like stare and a countenance accustomed to command, all this gave her such an air of majesty that to me she might have been Queen of the World; she wore the sashes of three orders, and her costume was both simple and regal; it consisted of a muslin tunic embroidered with gold fastened by a diamond belt, and the full sleeves were folded back in the Asiatic style.
Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796)
Over this tunic she wore a red velvet dolman with very short sleeves. The bonnet which held her white hair was not decorated with ribbons, but with the most beautiful diamonds. Catherine believed education could change the hearts and minds of the Russian people and turn them away from backwardness. This meant developing individuals both intellectually and morally, providing them knowledge and skills, and fostering a sense of civic responsibility.
She also established a commission composed of T. Dilthey, and the historian G. She consulted British education pioneers, particularly the Rev. Daniel Dumaresq and Dr John Brown. The commission studied the reform projects previously installed by I.
They submitted recommendations for the establishment of a general system of education for all Russian orthodox subjects from the age of 5 to 18, excluding serfs. In JulyDumaresq wrote to Dr.
Catherine the Great | Outstanding Women in History
John Brown about the commission's problems and received a long reply containing very general and sweeping suggestions for education and social reforms in Russia. Brown argued, in a democratic country, education ought to be under the state's control and based on an education code. He also placed great emphasis on the "proper and effectual education of the female sex"; two years prior, Catherine had commissioned Ivan Betskoy to draw up the General Programme for the Education of Young People of Both Sexes.
It was charged with admitting destitute and extramarital children to educate them in any way the state deemed fit. Since the Moscow Foundling Home was not established as a state-funded institution, it represented an opportunity to experiment with new educational theories. However, the Moscow Foundling Home was unsuccessful, mainly due to extremely high mortality rates, which prevented many of the children from living long enough to develop into the enlightened subjects the state desired.
At first, the Institute only admitted young girls of the noble elite, but eventually it began to admit girls of the petit- bourgeoisieas well. Here he observed from a distance the Empress Catherine, who, as he approvingly recorded, was "taller than the middle sized, gracefully formed, but inclined to corpulence". Something about her was teasingly unclassifiable: The quintessential enlightened despot, Catherine had a capacity for flamboyant theatricality, which also extended to strategic demonstrations of simplicity.
Famously abstemious with regard to most personal pleasures, she took part with gusto in the transvestite masquerades at the court of Empress Elizabeth, and dressed up as a colonel of the Preobrazhensky Guards to lead troops from St Petersburg to Peterhof in pursuit of her husband, Peter III, to consolidate the coup d'etat of June 28 As Virginia Rounding notes, "she was deliberately creating symbols on this day, conscious of every nuance of appearance", and she was equally self-conscious at every other moment of her life.
It was common for foreign visitors to record the empress's easy manners, "like a charming lady on her country estate", one migrant Frenchman exclaimed. They were of course supposed to note exactly this; Catherine was enacting what Ronald Hingley, writing of Pasternak, once termed a "choreography of self-effacement", a show of modesty to political and diplomatic ends.
In this perspective, Rounding's subtitle, "Love, Sex and Power", would seem to have got things in the wrong order. Certainly, Catherine wrote to Potemkin in her "Sincere Confession of 21 February ", "My heart is loath to remain even one hour without love", but "love" - particularly in her last years - involved a strong impulse to manage those selected as recipients of emotion by her, whether this meant nudging her lover Alexander Lanskoy into cultivated pursuits, or minutely regulating the upbringing of another Alexander, her grandson and second in line to the throne.
None of Catherine's voluminous writings was spontaneous; letters could always be intercepted, diaries might be read, and Catherine's memoirs were an effort to set the record straight for her own times as well as posterity, written in different versions for different readers and allies. Rounding's introduction recognises some of the problems of historical interpretation that Catherine's life presents, her "constant awareness of herself as a public figure".
This is very much an intimate, "feminine" study of Catherine's life, without a deep command of the politics, culture and symbolic reality of the Russia in which she lived. An uninitiated reader would never guess that the country witnessed a huge upsurge of activity in arts, sciences, industry and technology, not to speak of a major push forward in terms of territorial expansion. Rounding dutifully records some of the key events of the reign - battles against the Turks, the suppression of the Pugachev rebellion, the exile of the dissident writer Alexander Radishchev - but her heart does not lie here, and she appears to assume that Catherine's did not either.