15 Interesting Facts about Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia
Here are 15 very interesting facts about Catherine the Great, the longest-reigning empress of Russia:
- Growing up, Catherine had a military chaplain as her teacher. It is also known that Catherine attained reasonable fluency in three major languages- German, French, and Russian.
- She fought the Ottoman Empire on several occasions. In all those occasions, Catherine the Great’s superior navy fleet could not be be matched by the Ottomans.
- Although she was born in Prussia, Catherine had always had a strong admiration for her adopted country, Russia. She was considered as the German who breathed and absolutely loved Russia. So high was her pride in Russia, that all throughout her reign, Russians rediscovered their pride in Russia.
- Due to her militaristic efforts and campaigns, a number of European nations considered her a threat. The Turks, in particular, loathed her. At some point in time, she made plans to bring Constantinople under her control, and completely drive the Ottomans out of Europe.
- Along with her trusted advisers, Catherine embarked on massive modernization efforts all across Russia. Several towns were built from scratch and became commercial trading hubs in the empire. Examples of such towns were Odessa, Kherson, Nikolayev, Taganrog, and Mariupol. Those towns helped to revive agriculture and trade in southern Russia.
- Catherine was fonder of her grandchildren than her own children. As a matter of fact, her relationship with her son, future heir Paul, was very strained. The Empress’ favorite grandchild was Alexander. Somehow, she even hoped that the Russian crown passed over her son, Paul, to Alexander.
- Catherine carefully selected young and handsome men to be her love interests. From 1759 to 1771, it is believed that Grigory Orlov was her most favored lover. Shortly after Grigory, Catherine and Grigory Potemkin had an affair from 1776 to 1791. Towards the dying periods of reign, the young Platon Zubov was seen frequently with the empress.
- Her 34-year reign puts her on top of the list of longest-reigning female monarchs in Russian history.
- By the time she passed away, Catherine had successfully placed Russia on the map and made her country a significant powerhouse in European politics and culture.
- Catherine was said to be tone-deaf.
- She once gave about a thousand indentured servants to a close friend of hers.
- Although not conclusively proven, but there were rumors that her son Paul’s actual father was Sergei Saltykov—a nobleman and member of the royal court.
- Catherine frequently read a lot of French Encyclopedias and the works of German jurists.
- The rumor that she engaged in bestiality is completely unfounded. Neither is the rumor of her dying on top of her toilet. She did, however, have a stroke and pass out on the floor of her bathroom.
- As at the time of her death (on November 17, 1796), serfdom and peasants suppression in Russia was at an all-time high- higher than when she seized power from her husband, Peter III.