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Catherine The Great – The First Woman to be Called “The Great”

The early life of Catherine The Great

Catherine II came from German heritage.

She had a disturbing childhood, but her family pulled the right strings, and along with the help of Fredrick the great she was soon to be marrying the future King of Russia, Peter III.

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They first met at the age of 10, Peter was only a year older. From the first time they met until Peter died, Catherine disliked him.

Catherine started learning the Russian language and later mastered it. She was converted to orthodoxy and her wedding took place in Saint Petersburg on 21 August 1745. Catherine had just turned 16.

The couple had two children that lived – A boy and a girl, but Catherine claimed that they aren’t Peter’s children because they never laid with each other. She lived a private life while with Peter and was as she wrote “unhappy”.

King Peter III, ruled for only six months. He had a really short reign and the reason for his abdication is Catherine and her plot. She removed him from the throne and grabbed it for herself.

The reign of Catherine the Great (1762–96)

Catherine the Great was crowned on 28 June 1762.

What Catherine would do for her kingdom would give her the title “the Great”, a title that no woman have ever held. First we are going to cover her foreign campaigns and later her domestic reforms and reorder of the kingdom.

Russian Turkish War

The Baltic Sea and the Azov Sea offered a huge economical and military benefit for Russia. If they could control these areas, they could become a key player in Europe. Catherine would gain huge portions of land both north and south and would give Russia huge control over the seas.

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The war against the Ottoman Empire started in 1768 and lasted until 1774. The Ottomans held huge lands and had amazing power, but Catherine started defeating the Turkish armies and pushed them South.

There was a treaty signed called Kucuk Kaynarca in 1774, where Russia gained Azov, Kerch, Yenikale, etc. They now had control over the Azov sea.  This was the old Crimean Khanate.

As Russia advanced south, the other powers saw that it could take over a lot of territories.

In order to resolve this Fredrick the Great made a plan. Have a look at this map:

As you can see, the resolution was to split Poland. Poland was currently a puppet of Catherine, it was ruled by one of her lovers. They made three deals as you can see and split Poland three times.

Prussia connected its territories and Russia got huge sea territories. As you can see, Russia now had good control over the Baltic sea and could start with their dominance.

Nobody asked Poland about this, the country was split three ways – three times. There was a revolt but it was instantly crushed by Russia.

Catherine the Great’s War Against the Persians

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Russia had a pact with the Georgians signed in 1783. The Russians made a promise to them for protection as a fellow orthodox country against invaders.

Catherine started a war against the Persians in 1796 after they invaded Georgia. Russia’s goal here was to overthrow the current king and replace him with a puppet one for control. He would play as a defense zone for Russia and a fellow ally.

A good portion of Russian troops stormed in Persian territory. There wasn’t much resistance and they took the three main cities. But Catherine passed away, and her successor, King Paul retreated the troops from Persia.

The sex drive of Catherine the Great

Catherine was a pretty interesting woman, she had many lovers which she enjoyed in each and every one. Gifted males were tested before they were sent in bed with her, and afterward, she would give them land, titles, and roles.

It was considered that she enjoyed sex and was a nymphomaniac, she even had a pretty interesting “room” covered in everything sexual.

She was a lover of the arts, literature and education. The Museum, called the Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace of Peter began as a personal collection.

She was a writer herself, writing various comedies and memoirs. She had contact with and invited Voltaire in her country. She was in contact with him for 15 years until his death.

They never met, but they were really close. The famous encyclopedia was started back then, and the writers were banned from France, so Catherine the Great invited them to write in Russia. The Enlightenment she started had a huge effect on her country and greater Europe.

Reforms made by Catherine the Great

Catherine decentralized power from the monarchy and divided the country into smaller provinces and districts. Each had its own organs which made it easy to manage, as long as they all payed taxes. There were 50 provinces and 500 districts.

She imported various artists, inventors, etc. to her country for the Russian Enlightenment. This help grew the country from inside.

Her educational reforms are really important. She had a love for European culture and philosophy. Now Catherine had a task to educate her people. Making various institutes for nobles and also public schools helped the country grow. She also stated that noble girls should get their educations the same as the males.

The Church

Catherine nationalized all of the Church estates leaving the Priests landless and surviving off other activities. She then used the land for money and the money for war.

For the Muslim population she had a really aggressive approach, making it tough to ban Islam in the country. She gave benefits to everyone who was going to convert from Islam to Orthodox, she banned Muslims from having serfs and other laws to get people to convert without violence.

For the Jews, she gave them an extra tax, and if they converted to Christian Orthodox, that tax would be lifted away. With the Polish territories, she gained a large Jewish population which she didn’t want to move to the other parts of the country, and made them stay there.

As a result of this persecution, there was a huge revolt against Catherine that took over a vast territory and played as a threat for the kingdom. Catherine managed to stop it, but it showed that people weren’t satisfied. Various types of people united under one banner, there were Muslims, Cossacks, Serfs, etc. This is known as the Pugachev’s Rebellion and it was during the Russian Turkish war.

Catherine died and left the throne to her son. Her rule ended but she gained massive territories, reformed the country and made Russian into a great power.

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