Not only was this famous Empress of all Russia not Russian, but her name wasn't originally Catherine.
Born Sophie Augusta Frederica, she was the daughter of a Prussian general, Prince Christian August of Anhalt Zerbst. She received the standard education for children of the German nobility from a French governess and a series of tutors.
Her father was a very devout Lutheran and opposed her conversion to the Russian Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, she was welcomed into the church not long after traveling to Russia and took the name Catherine. The very next day, she was formally betrothed to the Grand Duke Peter. The marriage did not take place for another two years, but even that did not help the unlikely pair.
Peter took years to consummate the marriage, taking a number of mistresses instead while Catherine went her own way and took lovers. It is likely that their son, Paul, was not Peter's biological son. She wrestled the throne from her husband after only six months as Emperor and it has been rumored but not proven that she was behind his death only three days later.
Likely because of how she came to the throne, she was unwilling to share any power with her son, Paul, and kept him a virtual prisoner in the palaces of Gatchina and Pavlovsk.Today's Question: In the old style calendar, Catherine the Great died on November 6 in what year?
Labels: Catherine the Great, Empress, Russian history