Adonis Diaries

Part 1. Empress Catherine of Russia: Humiliation behind her “greatness”?

Posted on: September 24, 2010

Catherine of Russia kept a detailed diary since childhood until she died.  She mastered three languages:  French (the most dominant language in all of Europe during the 18 and 19th centuries), German, and then she learned Russian.  She communicated with most of the famous authors and thinkers of her time and supported them financially and politically when in dire need.  She changed from Lutheran to Russian Orthodox Church for political reasons and to be able to accede to the throne; her father sent her a cold letter blaming her for that conversion.

The original name of Catherine was Sofia-Fredericka (King Frederick II, known by history as “Frederick the Great” was ruling Prussia and raising and training a strong army for expansion); she started her journey from Prussia (East Germany) to St. Petersburg in 1944.  The trip, that lasted more than a month in a harsh winter weather, was to be conducted in secrecy in order for Empress Elizabeth to check out Sofia as a potential spouse to her nephew Peter (the potential heir to the Russian throne).  Peter was a year older than Sofia and they have met when children; thus, Sofia could not recall how he looked or how he developed.  It turned out that Peter was immature, not good-looking, and barely as tall as Sofia (5’5″).  Peter still played with toy soldiers and hide and seek with his servants.

The mother of Sofia, Johanna, accompanied her on this journey as her chaperon and councillor. The chamberlain to Empress Elizabeth wrote: ” The daughter is plain but healthy; she resembles her father in facial characteristics:  She has a large nose and heavy chin, but she is taller than normal women.  I noticed from her gait that she suffered frost bites in several toes of her left foot. The mother is a complete snob and cares only of how she look. She reprimanded her daughter for missing her dad saying: “Your father is an insignificant person, focus to learn the Russian language and don’t think to returning to Prussia for visits.  The guest felt very comfortable in our heated sleighs; they were using carriages in wheels that left many bruises on their bodies.”  Elizabeth acceded to power by overthrowing young Ivan VI.

The mother felt humiliated from the first meeting with Elizabeth who didn’t even look her way or addressed her; she had to wait over 2 years in Russia, relegated close to the servants’ apartment, until her daughter got married in late 1945.  Catherine gave birth to Paul in 1954; she had named hin Pavel but Elizabeth changed his name to Paul and didn’t permit Catherine to see her child since he was an infant; thus, this overwhelming anger of Catherine toward Elizabeth and of her idiot of nephew Peter “who stood there grinning as Elizabeth snatched the baby from my arms”

Catherine wrote in her diary:   “Elizabeth is the bossiest lady I have ever met.  She catered for the minute details and never allowed me to dress as I wished”.  Elizabeth was a tall, svelte, beautiful woman with blue eyes before she died of overweight and aged prematurely.  Elizabeth confronted Frederick II militarily for over 7 years in order to halt Prussia expansion at the detriment of Austria.  The Russian treasury was depleted when she died.

Peter was the new Emperor and he used to strut in Prussian army uniforms and declare that Prussia is the better than Russia in every thing and that Frederick II is the greatest monarch.  Catherine never dared to challenge Elizabeth but bid her time until the strong-willed Empress died.  Catherine dreaded that Elizabeth might demand from Peter to divorce her and then be shipped back to her family that was at odd with her.

In the mean while, Catherine worked on her connections with the highest personality  in the noble class, the military, the clergymen, and foreign diplomats.  She had countless love affairs, especially with military officers such as Gregory Orlov and much later with Gregory Pushkin. A military coup organized by Catherine removed Peter from power less than a year later, before the official coronation.  Peter was strangled in prison.  The day of the revolt, Catherine went straight to the main cathedral in St. Petersburg and got acclaimed by the archbishop as new ruler.  (To be continued)

1 Response to "Part 1. Empress Catherine of Russia: Humiliation behind her “greatness”?"

[…] Part 1. Empress Catherine of Russia: Humiliation behind her “greatness”? […]

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September 2010

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