Catherine the Great Lived up to Her Name
Born in Pomerania, Prussia on May 2, 1729 as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, she is, to this day, the most renowned and longest female ruler of Russia. She inherited the crown after her husband`s (Peter III) assassination just after the Seven Years` War had ended.
Her marriage to the prospective tsar Peter of Holstein-Gottorp (who was also her second cousin) resulted from Catherine`s mothers` relations to wealthy members of royalty, as well as some measure of diplomatic management. It was a tactic to strengthen the friendship between Prussia and Russia, in an effort to weaken Austria`s influence. There was dissension in the ranks during her marriage to Peter the III; many suspected her influence in his death, along with Peter`s own mother, Empress Elizabeth.
Catherine the Great not only expanded Russia`s territory to the Black Sea and into parts of central Europe, she was responsible for the promotion of westernization and modernization through the context of her autocratic control. She encouraged enlightenment and education among the upper classes and she was well known for having diplomacy in world affairs. Catherine was also known for her insatiable sexual appetite, and is often remembered for having many lovers.
Often, Catherine`s reign is referred to as the Golden Era of the Russian Empire; she revitalized Russia, growing and strengthening the country, and soon, it became recognized as one of the great powers of Europe. Catherine`s greatness is the reason that Onegin has immortalized her in our gorgeous ceiling portrait. Without her pioneering efforts, Russia would not have made the advances that it has--nor would that have extended through the generations down to us here at Onegin!
Catherine II Empress of Russia 1729-1796