8 ting, du ikke vidste om Katarina den Store

8 ting, du ikke vidste om Katarina den Store


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1. Catherine den Stores navn var ikke Catherine, og hun var ikke engang russisk.
Kvinden, som historien ville huske som Katarina den Store, Ruslands længst herskende kvindelige leder, var faktisk den ældste datter af en fattig preussisk prins. Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst blev født i 1729 og havde mange ægteskabelige udsigter på grund af sin mors velrenommerede blodlinjer.

I 1744 blev 15-årige Sophie inviteret til Rusland af Czarina Elizabeth, en datter af Peter den Store, der havde overtaget den russiske trone ved et kup bare tre år tidligere. Den ugiftede og barnløse Elizabeth havde valgt sin nevø Peter som arving og var nu på jagt efter sin brud. Sophie, veluddannet af sin ambitiøse mor og ivrig efter at behage, havde en umiddelbar indflydelse på Elizabeth, hvis ikke hendes tiltænkte mand. Ægteskabet fandt sted den 21. august 1745, hvor bruden (en ny konvertit til ortodoks kristendom) nu bar navnet Ekaterina eller Catherine.

2. Catharines ældste søn - og arving - kan have været uægte.
Catherine og hendes nye mand havde et stenet ægteskab fra starten. Selvom den unge preussiske prinsesse var blevet importeret for at producere en arving, gik der otte år uden barn. Nogle historikere mener, at Peter ikke var i stand til at gennemføre ægteskabet, mens andre tror, ​​at han var ufrugtbar.

Desperat utilfredse med deres ægteskab, begyndte Peter og Catherine begge uden for ægteskab, hun med Sergei Saltykov, en russisk militærofficer. Da Catherine fødte en søn, Paul, i 1754, mumlede sladder om, at Saltykov - ikke Peter - havde fået ham. Catherine selv gav troværdighed til dette rygte i sine erindringer og gik så langt som til at sige, at kejserinde Elizabeth havde været medskyldig i at tillade Catherine og Saltykovs forhold. Selvom historikere i dag mener, at Catherine's påstande simpelthen var et forsøg på at miskreditere Peter, og at han faktisk var Pauls far, er der kun lidt debat om faderskabet til Catherine tre yderligere børn: Det menes, at ingen af ​​dem blev fostret af Peter.

LÆS MERE: Det urolige ægteskab med Katarina den Store og Peter III

3. Catherine kom til magten ved et blodløst kup, der senere blev dødeligt.
Elizabeth døde i januar 1762, og hendes nevø efterfulgte tronen som Peter III, med Catherine som hans gemal. Ivrig efter at sætte sit eget præg på nationen, sluttede han hurtigt Ruslands krig med Preussen, en handling der viste sig dybt upopulær for Ruslands militærklasse. Et program med liberale indenlandske reformer, der havde til formål at forbedre de fattiges liv, fremmedgjorde også medlemmer af den lavere adel.

Disse ulykkelige fraktioner henvendte sig til Catherine, som også var bange for Peters hensigter. Efterhånden som spændingerne steg, slog en plan om at vælte Peter rod. Da konspirationen blev afsløret i juli 1762, flyttede Catherine hurtigt, fik støtte fra landets mest magtfulde militære regiment og sørgede for hendes mands arrestation.

Den 9. juli, kun seks måneder efter at han blev zar, abdikerede Peter, og Catherine blev udråbt til enestående hersker. Det, der var begyndt som et blodløst kup, blev imidlertid hurtigt dødeligt. Den 17. juli døde Peter, muligvis i hænderne på Alexei Orlov, broren til Catherine's nuværende elsker Gregory. Selvom der ikke er noget bevis på, at Catherine kendte til det påståede mord, før det skete, kastede det en pall over hendes regeringstid fra starten.

4. Catherine stod over for mere end et dusin oprør under hendes regeringstid.
Af de forskellige opstande, der truede Katarines styre, kom det farligste i 1773, da en gruppe bevæbnede kosakker og bønder under ledelse af Emelyan Pugachev gjorde oprør mod de hårde socioøkonomiske forhold i Ruslands laveste klasse, livegne. Som med mange af de oprør, Catherine stod overfor, satte Pugachevs oprør tvivl om gyldigheden af ​​hendes regeringstid. Pugachev, en tidligere hærofficer, hævdede, at han faktisk var den afsatte (og troede døde) Peter III, og derfor den retmæssige arving til den russiske trone.

Inden for et år havde Pugachev trukket tusinder af tilhængere og erobret en stor mængde territorium, herunder byen Kazan. Til at begynde med var bekymret over oprøret, reagerede Catherine hurtigt med massiv kraft. Over for den russiske hærs magt forlod Pugachevs tilhængere ham til sidst, og han blev taget til fange og henrettet offentligt i januar 1775.

5. At være Catherine den Stores elsker kom med enorme belønninger.
Catherine var berømt loyal over for sine elskere, både under deres forhold og efter at det sluttede. Hun skiltes altid på gode vilkår og skænkede dem titler, jord, paladser og endda mennesker - forærede en tidligere paramour med mere end 1.000 tjenere eller indenturerede tjenere.

Men måske høste ingen af ​​hendes fordel mere end Stanislaw Poniatowski, en af ​​hendes tidligste kærester og far til et af hendes børn. Som medlem af den polske adel blev Poniatowski først involveret med Catherine (som endnu ikke var på tronen), da han tjente i den britiske ambassade i Skt. Petersborg. Selv efter at en skandale, der delvis var forårsaget af deres forhold, tvang ham fra den russiske domstol, forblev de tætte. I 1763, længe efter at deres forhold var slut, og et år efter at hun var kommet til magten, kastede Catherine med succes sin støtte (både militær og økonomisk) bag Poniatowski i hans bestræbelser på at blive konge i Polen. Men når den nye konge, som Catherine og andre troede ville være en marionet for russiske interesser, begyndte den nye konge, da den blev installeret på tronen, en række reformer, der skulle styrke hans lands uafhængighed. Det, der engang var et stærkt bånd mellem de to tidligere kærester, blev hurtigt surt, hvor Catherine tvang Poniatowski til at abdisere, og Rusland ledede bestræbelserne på at bryde op og opløse det nyoprettede polsk-litauiske rigsfællesskab.

6. Catherine så sig selv som en oplyst hersker.
Katarinas regeringstid var præget af stor territorial ekspansion, hvilket i høj grad bidrog til Ruslands kasser, men gjorde lidt for at lindre hendes folks lidelser. Selv hendes forsøg på regeringsreformer blev ofte sat i stå af Ruslands enorme bureaukrati. Catherine betragtede sig imidlertid som en af ​​Europas mest oplyste herskere, og mange historikere er enige. Hun skrev adskillige bøger, pjecer og uddannelsesmateriale med det formål at forbedre Ruslands uddannelsessystem.

Hun var også en forkæmper for kunsten og holdt en livslang korrespondance med Voltaire og andre fremtrædende sind i æraen, og skabte en af ​​verdens mest imponerende kunstsamlinger i Skt.Petersborgs Vinterpalads (nu hjemsted for det berømte Eremitagemuseum) og endda forsøger sig med at komponere opera.

7. I modsætning til den populære myte døde Catherine en temmelig dagligdags, begivenhedsløs død.
I betragtning af kejserens chokerende ry, er det måske ikke overraskende, at sladder fulgte hende, uanset hvor hun gik, selv til graven. Efter hendes død den 17. november 1796 begyndte hendes fjender ved retten at sprede forskellige rygter om Catherine's sidste dage. Nogle hævdede, at den almægtige hersker var død, mens han var på toilettet. Andre tog deres lurede historiefortælling endnu længere og forevigede en myte, der har levet i århundreder: at Catherine, hvis begærlige liv var en åben hemmelighed, var død, mens hun deltog i en sexhandling med et dyr, normalt troet at være en hest. Selvfølgelig er der ingen sandhed i dette rygte. Selvom hendes fjender ville have håbet på en skandaløs ende, er den enkle sandhed, at Catherine fik et slagtilfælde og døde stille i sin seng den følgende dag.

LÆS MERE: Hvorfor Katarina den Stores fjender gjorde hende til en sexfiende

8. Catharines ældste søn mødte samme grusomme skæbne som hans far.
Catherine havde et berømt stormfuldt forhold til sin ældste søn, Paul. Drengen var blevet fjernet fra sin mors pleje kort efter hans fødsel og stort set opvokset af den tidligere czarina, Elizabeth, og en række undervisere. Efter at hun havde overtaget tronen, holdt Catherine, bange for gengældelse for Peter III's afsættelse og død, Paul langt væk fra statsforhold og fremmedgjorde drengen yderligere. Forholdet mellem de to blev så dårligt, at Paul til tider var overbevist om, at hans mor aktivt planlagde hans død. Selvom Catherine ikke havde sådanne planer, frygtede hun, at Paul ville være en inkompetent hersker og ledte efter alternative muligheder for arvefølgen.

Ligesom Elizabeth før hende tog Catherine kontrol over opdragelsen og uddannelsen af ​​Pauls sønner, og der var masser af rygter om, at hun havde til hensigt at kalde dem hendes arvinger og omgå Paul. Faktisk menes det, at Catherine havde til hensigt at gøre denne embedsmand i slutningen af ​​1796, men døde, før hun kunne gøre det. Bekymret for, at hans mors testamente indeholdt bestemmelser herom, konfiskerede Paul dokumentet, før det kunne offentliggøres. Alexander, Pauls ældste søn, var klar over sin bedstemors planer, men bøjede sig for pres og stod ikke i sin fars vej. Paul blev zar, men viste sig hurtigt at være lige så uregelmæssig og upopulær som Catherine havde frygtet. Fem år efter hans regeringstid blev han myrdet, og hans 23-årige søn overtog magten som Alexander I.


Katarina den Store

Katarina II [a] (født Sophie af Anhalt-Zerbst 2. maj 1729 i Stettin - 17. november 1796 i Sankt Petersborg [b]), mest kendt som Katarina den Store, [c] var kejserinde i hele Rusland fra 1762 til 1796-landets længst herskende kvindelige leder. Hun kom til magten efter et statskup, der væltede hendes mand og anden fætter, Peter III. Under hendes regeringstid blev Rusland større, dets kultur blev revitaliseret, og det blev anerkendt som en af ​​Europas stormagter.

Russisk: Екатерина Алексеевна Романова, romaniseret: Yekaterina Alekseyevna Romanova

I sin tiltrædelse af magten og sit styre om kejserriget støttede Catherine ofte sine ædle favoritter, især grev Grigory Orlov og Grigory Potemkin. Bistået af meget succesrige generaler som Alexander Suvorov og Pyotr Rumyantsev og admiraler som Samuel Greig og Fyodor Ushakov styrede hun på et tidspunkt, hvor det russiske imperium ekspanderede hurtigt ved erobring og diplomati. I syd blev Krim-khanatet knust efter sejre over bar-konføderationen og det osmanniske imperium i den russisk-tyrkiske krig, 1768–1774 på grund af støtte fra Det Forenede Kongerige, og Rusland koloniserede territorierne Novorossiya langs de sorte kyster og Azov Seas. I vest blev det polsk -litauiske rigsfællesskab, der blev styret af Catherine's tidligere elsker, kong Stanisław August Poniatowski, til sidst delt, idet det russiske imperium fik den største andel. I øst blev russerne de første europæere til at kolonisere Alaska og etablere russisk Amerika.

Catherine reformerede administrationen af ​​russiske guberniyaer (guvernementer), og mange nye byer og byer blev grundlagt efter hendes ordre. En beundrer af Peter den Store, Catherine fortsatte med at modernisere Rusland langs vesteuropæiske linjer. Imidlertid var militær værnepligt og økonomi fortsat afhængig af livegenskab, og de stigende krav fra staten og af private grundejere intensiverede udnyttelsen af ​​livegent arbejde. Dette var en af ​​hovedårsagerne til oprør, herunder det store Pugachev-oprør af kosakker, nomader, folk i Volga og bønder.

Perioden for Katarina den Stores styre, den Katerinsk æra, [1] betragtes som en guldalder i Rusland. [2] Den Manifest om Adelsfrihed, udstedt under Peter III's korte regeringstid og bekræftet af Catherine, befriede russiske adelsmænd fra obligatorisk militær eller statslig tjeneste. Opførelsen af ​​mange adelspalæer i adel, i klassisk stil godkendt af kejserinden, ændrede landets ansigt. Hun støttede entusiastisk oplysningstidens idealer og er ofte inkluderet i rækken af ​​de oplyste despoter. [d] Som protektor for kunsten præsiderede hun over den russiske oplysningstid, herunder etableringen af ​​Smolny Institute of Noble Maidens, den første statsfinansierede højere uddannelsesinstitution for kvinder i Europa.


7 grunde til, at Catherine den Store var så stor

Hvis vedvarende tabloidomslag og miniseries til tv har lært os noget, er det, at vi almindelige mennesker simpelthen elsker en kongelig skandale. Så det er ikke nogen overraskelse, at en legendarisk monark som Katarina den Store, Ruslands længst regerende kvindelige leder, i mange tilfælde er blevet reduceret til historier om grimme anliggender og ubehagelige seksuelle forsøg. Men de kendte i russisk historie vil fortælle dig, at Catherine, der regerede fra 1762 til 1796, var så meget mere end sladder og intriger, der omgav hende under hendes regeringstid og har omsluttet hende siden hendes død. Her er syv fakta, du har brug for at vide om den kontroversielle, karismatiske og spilskiftende Katarina den Store.

1. Hun blev ikke født som en Catherine eller som en russisk

Født i 1729 i Preussen (nutidens Polen) som Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst, kvinden, der senere skulle blive kendt som Katarina den Store, var den ældste datter af en tysk prins ved navn Christian August von Anhalt-Zerbst. Takket være sin mors prestigefyldte slægt (som var fjernt forbundet med kejserinde Elizabeth af Rusland), havde Sophie stort set sit valg af kuldet med hensyn til ægteskabelige udsigter. I en alder af 14 blev hun parret med sin anden fætter, Elizabeths søn, Peter III. Barnebarnet til Peter den Store, Peter III, var arving til den russiske trone. I 1744 flyttede Catherine til Rusland og overtog titlen storhertuginde Ekaterina (Catherine) Alekseevna, og et år senere blev hun og Peter gift. Men fagforeningen var ikke helt en historiebogromantik. Det kommer vi til om lidt.

2. Hendes progressive arv går tabt blandt uklarheder

& quotMere opmærksomhed bør rettes mod Catherine II som lovgiver, en person med en meget stærk arbejdsmoral, der udstedte adskillige love for at omstrukturere staten (for at opnå administrativ ensartethed i et stort imperium), samfundet (ved tydeligere afgrænsning af forskellige samfundskategorier) og meget konfiguration af russiske byer (hun havde lavet tegninger til ensartede bygninger i bymidter), & quot, Victoria Frede, lektor i Institut for Historie ved UC Berkeley, siger via e -mail. Det er velkendt, at hun aggressivt udvidede størrelsen af ​​det russiske imperium (herunder Krim), selvom få værdsætter, at hun havde større succes med at øge imperiets størrelse end Peter den Store. Vi kan afvise, og hendes arv var blandet, især på grund af uddybningen af ​​social ulighed (undertrykkelse af livegne) i hendes regeringstid. Hun var en hårdhært hersker, men det var derfor, hun satte så stort et aftryk på landet. & Quot

3. Hendes regeringstid var det russiske imperiums guldalder & quot

Catherine kaldte sig selv en "kvit for kunst", og hun var besat af europæiske malerier og europæisk inspireret arkitektur. Faktisk startede St. Hun betragtes som monarken ansvarlig for at ændre Ruslands ansigt gennem opførelsen af ​​klassiske palæer, hendes godkendelse af oplysningstidens idealer og oprettelsen af ​​Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens, den første statsfinansierede højere uddannelsesinstitution for kvinder i Europa, blandt andre præstationer.

Hun var en sand 'intellektuel på tronen', der var meget involveret i Ruslands kulturliv (og blandt andet bragte Rusland meget mere ind i europæisk bevidsthed) & quot; Marcus C. Levitt, professor emeritus i slaviske sprog og litteratur ved universitetet i det sydlige Californien, siger via e -mail. & quotHer var en 'guldalder' for russisk kultur. Hun lagde både grundlaget for en offentlig sfære i Rusland og reagerede mod den franske revolution i slutningen af ​​hendes regeringstid og lagde også grundlaget for senere forsøg på at lukke det offentlige rum. Hendes var uden tvivl den længste og mest succesrige regeringstid i russisk historie. & Quot

4. Hendes kærlighedsliv var kompliceret for at sige det mindste

Det er ingen hemmelighed, at Catherine og Peter havde et uroligt ægteskab fra starten. Det faktum, at hun ikke fik en arving efter otte års ægteskab, fik mange til at tro, at Peter enten ikke var i stand til at gennemføre ægteskabet eller var ufrugtbar. Uanset årsagen engagerede både Catherine og Peter sig uden for ægteskab, og i 1752 tilsluttede hun regelmæssigt Sergei Saltykov, en russisk militærofficer, som mange tror er den egentlige far til Catharines første barn, Paul, som blev født i 1754. Catherine gjorde ikke meget for at benægte disse rygter - hun sagde endda, at kejserinde Elizabeth tillod affæren. Historikere kan ikke være sikre på, hvem babyfar egentlig var, men de fleste er enige om, at Peter ikke var far til en eneste af Catherines tre ekstra børn. Hun havde en datter med Stanislaus Poniatowski, som hun senere hjalp med at blive konge i Polen, og i det ultimative knusende slag for deres ægteskab væltede Catherine Peter ved et statskup i juli 1762 og fik hende titlen som kejserinde i Rusland. Hun giftede sig aldrig igen, men hun fik et ry for at tage kærester og derefter promovere dem til centrale regeringsstillinger.

Hun var en seriel monogamist, der konstant ønskede en elskers fysiske og åndelige nærhed, og hun udnyttede sine elskendes evner til gavn for landet, siger Levitt. & quotDer er meget mere, jeg kunne sige her, den senere tradition så hende ofte som en fuldendt hykler, men det tror jeg tager tingene ud af historisk kontekst. Jeg tror, ​​at hendes hjerte var på det rigtige sted, men at hun forstod arten og begrænsningerne ved den politiske magt i Rusland. & Quot

5. Politisk og socialt var hun både liberal og konservativ

Mens Catherine havde en stor hånd i moderniseringen af ​​Rusland i Vesteuropas billede, gjorde hun ikke meget for at ændre livegnets system. I 1700 -tallet var russiske livegne ikke forpligtet til at lande, men til deres ejere, og selvom de ikke ligefrem var slaver, er tvangsarbejde gennem en moderne linse en klart problematisk og straffende praksis. Catherine foretog nogle ændringer for at ændre dette system, underskrev lovgivning for at forbyde praksis og endda at skrive et manifest fra 1775, der forbød tidligere livegne, der var blevet frigjort fra at blive livegne igen. Men på den anden side begrænsede Catherine også mange bønderes friheder og gav mange statsejede bønder væk til at blive private livegne. Mellem 1773 og 1775 samledes oprørslederen Yemelyan Pugachev bønder og kosakker og lovede livegne deres eget land og frihed fra deres herrer i det, der var kendt som Pugachevs oprør. I slutningen af ​​1774 var et sted mellem 9.000 og 10.000 oprørere døde, og i september samme år var oprøret færdigt.

6. Den historie om hendes dødsårsag? Helt falsk

Måske var en af ​​de mest berygtede rygter, der fulgte Catherine, dem om hendes dødsårsag. Lad os bringe denne historie til hvile: Catherine døde ikke, mens hun havde sex med en hest. Og ja, det er en ældgammel teori, der er et uflatterende sladder, der har fulgt hende siden hendes død den 17. november 1796. Ifølge History.com tilsyneladende havde brug af ridning som en seksuel metafor en lang historie i injurier mod angribende kvinder. Ridning var integreret forbundet med forestillinger om adel, og denne historie var også en perfekt undergravning af Catherine's bemærkede rytterfærdigheder. & Quot I virkeligheden døde Catherine af et slagtilfælde i en alder af 67 år.

7. Hendes ry kan være i bedring

& quotJeg tror, ​​man generelt kunne sige, at Catharines image er stærkt forbedret i løbet af de sidste hundrede år eller deromkring, siger Alexander M. Martin, professor i historie ved University of Notre Dame, via e -mail. & quot I Rusland før revolutionen i 1917 havde hun for det meste et tvivlsomt ry: politisk som en, der talte meget om 'oplyste' værdier, men nægtede at frigøre livegne og personligt, som en kvinde, der var umoralsk på grund af hendes række kærester. Der har været meget stipendium om hende siden midten af ​​det 20. århundrede, og for det meste har det haft en tendens til at rehabilitere hende. Selvom hun tydeligvis ikke gjorde noget for at hjælpe de livegne, har vi fået en større påskønnelse af hendes bestræbelser på at modernisere Rusland på andre måder, og vores egen ændrede holdning til køn og seksualitet har fået os til at stoppe med at se hendes privatliv som skandaløst, som tidligere generationer gjorde . & quot

Vacciner kan stadig være et berørt emne for nogle, men Catherine havde ingen betenkeligheder med at godkende praksis med podninger. Hun valgte at blive podet mod kopper, selvom det dengang var en kontroversiel praksis. Hun sagde, "mit mål var gennem mit eksempel at redde mange af mine undersåtter fra døden, der uden at kende værdien af ​​denne teknik og var bange for den, blev efterladt i fare." I 1800 blev omkring 2 millioner vacciner administreret i hele det russiske imperium.


2. Katarina den Stores ægteskab med Peter den 3. var stenet.

G.A. Kachalov, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

Catherine og Peter var et dårligt matchet par: Catherine var lys og ambitiøs, mens Peter ifølge Britannica var "mentalt svag". Catherine kunne ikke lide ham: "Peter III havde ingen større fjende end ham selv, alle hans handlinger grænsede op til sindssyge," skrev hun i 1789. Hendes erindringer skildrer zaren som en beruset, en enkel og en, der "havde glæde af at slå mænd og dyr. ” Uanset om disse udsagn er korrekte eller ej, var Catherine og hendes ægtefælle tydeligvis utilfredse, og de havde begge ægteskabelige forhold. Catherine havde mindst tre anliggender og antydede, at ingen af ​​hendes børn var hendes mands.


Det skræmte hesten, fik den til at stikke af og trak tiltalte med sig. "

Ærekrænkelse anført af polske emigre menes det, selvom en anden teori ganske enkelt har det som en sladder blandt de franske overklasser, som derefter spiraler.

Nej, det gjorde hun ikke. Nogle af rygterne var bare almindelig sexisme mod en uhyre magtfuld kvinde. Hun havde kærester, men i forhold til Europas konger og prinser var hun positivt jomfruelig.

Historien fortæller, at hun døde, da grimen brød, da hun havde sex med en hest, men faktisk døde hun efter at have kollapset, sandsynligvis af et slagtilfælde, i sin egen seng omgivet af venner og plejere:

Grundlæggende opstod det på grund af jalousi - under Catherine (Jekaterina) havde det russiske imperium ekspanderet massivt.

Catherine skruede aldrig heste, og hun servicerede heller ikke nogen regimenter (selvom det er rigtigt, at hun valgte kærester fra hestevagterne - IGEN: IKKE DE FAKTISKE HESTE).

Kosakkerne: Absolut ikke efter oprøret under Pugachev. Catherine var ikke fan af kosakker, og de var heller ikke hendes fans.

Fordi hendes liv og død er veldokumenteret, og rygterne kan spores tilbage til, hvor de stammer fra: Frankrig:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200511/catherine-the-great-anatomy-rumor

Skruehestenes myte, mens den længe levede, har været godt og sandt afkræftet af historikere.

Fordi hendes liv og død er veldokumenteret, og rygterne kan spores tilbage til, hvor de stammer fra: Frankrig:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200511/catherine-the-great-anatomy-rumor

Myten om skrueheste har, mens den har levet længe, ​​været godt og grundigt afkræftet af historikere.

Hvis jeg skruede en hest, ville jeg gøre mit yderste for at sikre, at jeg ikke blev fanget. Måske gjorde hun det også.

Jeg ved, at hun ikke døde ved at ødelægge en hest, men det betyder ikke, at hun aldrig havde skruet en hest.

Jeg ville egentlig ikke have troet, at det rent teknisk var muligt.

Jeg kan ikke forestille mig den position, en kvinde (eller hesten for den sags skyld) skulle have for at have deres onde måde med en hest.

Så det er noget af en "Neigh" så.

Hvis jeg skruede en hest, ville jeg gøre mit yderste for at sikre, at jeg ikke blev fanget. Måske gjorde hun det også.

Jeg ved, at hun ikke døde ved at ødelægge en hest, men det betyder ikke, at hun aldrig havde skruet en hest.

Ligesom at nogen kunne sige, at du havde sex med geder, og da ingen kan modbevise det, ville rygtet blive ved?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_B%C3%A1thory

Ligesom at nogen kunne sige, at du havde sex med geder, og da ingen kan modbevise det, ville rygtet blive ved?

Nej, det gjorde hun ikke. Nogle af rygterne var simpelthen sexisme mod en uhyre magtfuld kvinde. Hun havde kærester, men i forhold til Europas konger og prinser var hun positivt jomfruelig.

Grundlæggende opstod det på grund af jalousi - under Catherine (Yekaterina) havde det russiske imperium ekspanderet massivt.

Catherine skruede aldrig heste, og hun servicerede heller ikke nogen regimenter (selvom det er rigtigt, at hun valgte kærester fra hestevagterne - IGEN: IKKE DE FAKTISKE HESTE).

Kosakkerne: Absolut ikke efter oprøret under Pugachev. Catherine var ikke fan af kosakker, og det var heller ikke hendes fans.

Alle kvindelige herskere bliver beskyldt for alle slags afvigelser. Marie Antoinette blev anklaget for at sove med sin søn. Elizabeth 1 står anklaget for virkelig at være en mand. Cleopatra var en femme fatale, der ødelagde ærlige romere. Tsarina Alexandra var elsker med Rasputin - alt sammen nonsens.
Roden til alle disse vilde historier er frygt og harme - og den sikreste måde i mandlige øjne at bringe en kvinde ned er at beskylde hende for sådanne ting.

Hvis jeg skruede en hest, ville jeg gøre mit yderste for at sikre, at jeg ikke blev fanget. Måske gjorde hun det også.

Jeg ved, at hun ikke døde ved at ødelægge en hest, men det betyder ikke, at hun aldrig havde skruet en hest.

Hun knaldede ikke heste. Rygtet kom ud af Frankrig, og ærligt talt i betragtning af, at der virkelig ikke fandtes et privatliv for kongelige, hvis hun havde skruet heste, ville det have været kendt. Der er ingen registrering af, at hun nogensinde har skruet en hest.

Jeg kan ikke bevise definitivt, at hun ikke gjorde det, men så kan jeg heller ikke bevise, at Stiffy78 ikke var udklækket fra et fremmed æg i et hemmeligt laboratorium som en del af en djævelsk plan om overtag verdenen.


Katarina den Store: Strålende, inspirerende, hensynsløs

Måske var en af ​​de største kvindelige herskere nogensinde, Katarina den Store, en af ​​de mest snedige, hensynsløse og effektive ledere i hele Rusland. Hendes regeringstid, selvom den ikke var for lang, var usædvanligt begivenhedsrig, og hun gjorde sig bemærket i historien, da hun klatrede op i den russiske adels rækker og til sidst tog sin vej til toppen og blev kejserinde for Rusland.

Hendes liv begyndte som datter til en mindre tysk adel, hun blev født i Stettin, i 1729 til en prins ved navn Christian Augustus. De navngav deres datter Sophia Augusta, og hun blev opvokset som prinsesse, lærte alle de formaliteter og regler, som royalty lærer. Sophias familie var ikke særlig rig, og titlen på royalty gav dem en lille evne til at få krav på tronen, men intet ventede på dem, hvis de ikke handlede.

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Sophias mor, Johanna, var en ambitiøs kvinde, en sladder og vigtigst af alt en opportunist. Hun længtes stærkt efter magt og rampelyset, vel vidende at det ville være muligt for hendes lille pige en dag at tage fat i tronen. Sophias følelser om sagen var også gensidige, for hendes mor gav et håb om, at hun en dag kunne blive kejserinde for Rusland.

Sophia blev inviteret til at tilbringe tid sammen med kejserinde Elizabeth i Rusland i nogen tid, hvor Sophia hurtigt fandt et dybt ønske om at blive hersker over Rusland på alle nødvendige måder. Hun dedikerede sig til at lære russisk og fokuserede på at opnå flydende så hurtigt som muligt. Hun konverterede endda til russisk ortodoksi og efterlod sine traditionelle rødder som luthersk bag sig, så hun kunne identificere sig med Ruslands kultur på et autentisk grundlag. Dette ville lægge en belastning på hendes forhold til hendes far, som var en troende luthersk, men hun var ikke særlig ligeglad. Hendes øjne var store med det dybe ønske om at være Ruslands sande leder. Da hun konverterede til russisk ortodoksi, tog hun det nye navn Catherine.

Som 16 -årig giftede hun sig med en ung mand ved navn Peter III, han var en beruset og en bleg mand, som hun bestemt ikke brød sig om i det mindste. De havde mødt før, da de var yngre, og hun vidste, at han var svag og ikke afskåret fra nogen form for ledelseskapacitet, men der var et alvorligt resultat af at gifte sig med ham: han var en storhertug. Dette betød, at han i det væsentlige var tronarving og ville være Catharines billet til de store ligaer. Han ville forhåbentlig føre hende til den succes og magt, hun trang til.

Selvom hun glædede sig til glæden ved en dag at være hersker, var hendes ægteskab med Peter en elendig affære. De var ikke særlig interesserede i hinanden, forholdet var udelukkende et politisk udbytte. Hun foragtede ham, fordi han ikke var en seriøs mand, han var en bøffel og en beruset, der var kendt for at sove rundt. Hun spottede ham meget, og hun begyndte selv at tage imod nogle nye elskere i håb om at gøre ham jaloux. De kom slet ikke godt overens.

På trods af frustrationen kastede løgnene og anklagerne mod hinanden, de blev sammen. Tværtimod var ægteskabet politisk hensigtsmæssigt og ikke særligt et af kærlighed. Catherine tålmodighed gav pote i det lange løb, men da kejserinden i Rusland, Elizabeth, døde i 1762, åbnede tronen. Peter var i stand til at gøre et rent krav på tronen, og han efterfulgte Elizbeth og blev den nye kejser i Rusland. Dette glædede Catherine, fordi det betød, at hun kun var et hjerteslag væk fra at blive den eneste hersker i Rusland.

Peter var en svag hersker, og han havde nogle ulige tilbøjeligheder. For det første var han en ivrig beundrer af Preussen, og hans politiske synspunkter forårsagede fremmedgørelse og frustration i det lokale adelsfolk. Katarines venner og allierede begyndte at blive trætte af Peter, og dette var bare den mulighed, hun havde brug for for at gribe magten til tronen. Hun sammensatte en plan for at iscenesætte et kup og tvinge Peter til at abdisere tronen og overdrage magten til sig selv. Hun havde holdt ud med ham længe nok, og hans politiske svagheder åbnede en stor dør til hans egen ødelæggelse. Catherine samlede en stor nok styrke til at tro, at hun ville være en værdig ejer af tronen, og i 1762 sparkede hun Peter af tronen og samlede en lille styrke, der arresterede ham og pressede ham til at underskrive kontrol over hende. Catherine havde endelig opnået sin store drøm om at blive kejserinde for Rusland. Interessant nok døde Peter et par dage senere i fangenskab. Nogle spekulerer på, om det var hende, der gjorde det, men der var ingen beviser for det. Hun foragtede bestemt manden.

Catherine var en usædvanlig kompetent person. Hun havde brugt hele sit liv på at forberede sig på sit styre, og hun var ikke ved at spilde det helt ved at blive tiltaget ligesom hendes mand. Der havde været et eller andet politisk pres for at installere Catharines 7-årige søn, Paul, som kejser, og hun var bestemt ikke ved at lade det ske. Et barn kunne let manipuleres ud fra den, der kontrollerede ham, og hun ville ikke lade hendes regeringstid blive truet af endnu et kup. Så hun fokuserede på at opbygge sin magt så hurtigt som muligt, uden at spare et eneste øjeblik. She increased her strength among her allies, reduced her enemies influence and made sure that the military was on her side.

While Catherine had desired to be a ruler, she certainly had no desire to be a petty or cruel dictator. In her time studying, reading and learning, she had come to understand that there was tremendous value in the concept of the Enlightenment, a political philosophy that at the time embraced knowledge and reason about superstition and faith. Russia at this point in their history, was not particularly well known for being a cultured or educated population. Indeed, the sprawling lands of the Russian world was composed of peasantry who were little more than farmers and a few steps above barbarians. Catherine sought to change the world’s opinion of Russia and set about a plan to become known as a major player on the national stage.

She took on many lovers over her time as the rule of Russia, in fact she was particularly famous for her relationships with these men. Sometimes the relationships were meant to empower her in some capacity, such as her relationship with Grigory Orlov, a man who supported her militarily in her rise to power. Her relationships and liaisons are unfortunately something to speculate, because as is common in history, a great deal of rumors aimed at her sexual promiscuity were unleashed by her rivals. Whether those stories and rumors are true, it is impossible to know, but given the practice at the time to smear that way, it’s possible that most of the tales are simply untrue.

Catherine worked hard to expand Russian territory, working on a military campaign series that would eventually lead her to annexing Crimea. Her original intentions had been to empower and increase the level of freedom of the serfs and ordinary people of Russia, but unfortunately those ideals were thrown by the wayside as it would have caused significant political upheaval amongst the nobility at the time. She had hoped that someday she would be able to help her people in becoming empowered, that every man would be an equal, but unfortunately her desires for the time being were just too far advanced for the culture at the time. Later on, she would end up changing her mind, primarily due to the fact that things like the French Revolution, civil unrest within the country and general fear caused her to realize how dangerous it was to the Aristocracy if everyone were to be made equal. Her policy of freedom was shelved in favor of her longstanding policy of political pragmatism.


6. Her Mother Sabotaged Her

Catherine’s courting of Peter III couldn’t have started out more horribly, and not just because she was less than impressed with her beau-to-be. For one thing, her meddling mother Johanna got herself kicked out of court within a matter of months for offending the courtiers. Catherine only managed to hang on by working her charms overtime.

Catherine the Great (2015– ), Mars Media Entertainment

10 things you may not know about Catherine the Great


Raphael’s “Saint George and the Dragon” was one of the pieces that Catherine the Great intended for the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is now held at the National Gallery of Art. (National Gallery of Art/National Gallery of Art)

A minor German princess whose path to Russian empress wasn’t exactly kosher, Catherine the Great (1729-1796) had a dozen lovers — often much younger than her — and collected art shrewdly, ultimately creating St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. But however diverting and newsworthy the truth about her is, misinformation endures.

“She had a lot of enemies who wrote quite negative things about her after she died and even when she was still alive,” says Susan Jaques, a Los Angeles-based writer whose new book, “The Empress of Art: Catherine the Great and the Transformation of Russia” will launch April 3 at a National Museum of Women in the Arts event.

After Catherine’s death, her estranged son Paul, who became czar, sought to erase his mother’s legacy and memory. A tug-of-war over how great Catherine really continued for some time.

Here are 10 things about the Russian ruler that might surprise you:

“The Empress of Art: Catherine the Great and the Transformation of Russia” by Susan Jaques. (Pegasus Books)

A land-grabby monarch who likely had a hand in her husband’s death and who annexed the Crimean peninsula in 1783, partitioned Poland out of existence, and fought two wars against the Ottomans, Catherine was subject to the regular strain of loneliness. Lovers in their 20s couldn’t fill that void. “She fell very strongly for some of these young men,” Jaques says. “She’s coming off as rather needy. This is not the Catherine that we know. It gets a little bit sad. She’s still trying to have this emotional connection, and yet she’s in her 50s and 60s. It’s not working out for her.”

Despite her extramarital affairs and illegitimate children, Catherine could be a prude. She hated Giulio Romano’s painting “Two Lovers,” which shows a semi-nude couple in a sexual position. “She had it put in the basement at the Winter Palace. It was so racy,” Jaques says. “It’s not mythological nor an allegory. It’s erotic. That was not acceptable, because she saw herself as this enlightened empress.” The Enlightenment prioritized reason and self-control.

3. She was (sort of) a good grandmother.

Catherine wasn’t able to raise her children, so she took over rearing her grandchildren. “She was a very doting grandmother,” Jaques says.

4. She traveled only in her imagination.

After arriving in Russia at age 14 to marry Peter III, Catherine never left Russia. “I think she was afraid to leave,” Jaques says. Others would have tried to usurp her throne. So she became an “armchair traveler” with a fantastic art library. She had parts of the Hermitage decorated to evoke works of art she couldn’t see, like Raphaels.

5. She was strategically humble.

Despite devouring art catalogues, Catherine humbly referred to herself as an art “glutton.” She told artists whom she commissioned that she knew less than a child about art. That was meant to disarm rather than intimidate, as she was a powerful woman who tended to be the smartest person in the room. “She did this for her political survival,” Jaques says.

6. She was a hands-on patron.

Catherine sent art agents throughout Europe to seek the best collections for her to acquire. Soon she told them what she wanted. Letters she sent to her favorite architect, Giacomo Quarenghi, include her own sketches and detailed French instructions. “She was not just, ‘Okay, I need a palace for my grandson Alexander.’ She was actually telling her architect what she wanted,” Jaques says.

Though she wrote opera librettos and made operas, concerts, and ballets a fixture of her cultural life, Catherine described herself as tone deaf. “She reportedly had to be given a sign when to applaud,” Jaques writes.

8. She’d likely be good at social media at least with selfies.

Catherine devoted significant time to having her portrait painted and updated frequently. Among many depictions is one that casts her as the goddess Minerva (Athena). “Because she was German. Because she really bumped off her husband and seized power, she had a real legitimacy problem. She wasn’t even Russian,” Jaques says. “All her reign, throughout 34 years, she was constantly trying to reinforce her legitimacy, and art was a big part of that for her.”

9. Part of her collection became Washington’s National Gallery of Art.

In 1930 and 1931, Andrew Mellon, one of the foremost art collectors in the United States, ignored a trade embargo on the Soviet Union and bought 21 paintings secretly for the equivalent of $90 million today. He hid the works — 15 of which were Catherine purchases — in a Corcoran Gallery cupboard. Amid political scandal, as is wont in the District, the paintings, including a Raphael, a Veronese, and five Rembrandts, became the foundation of the National Gallery of Art, whose construction began in 1937.

10. She was partially ahead of her time.

Catherine, in many ways, anticipated a modern way of looking at the world, but in other ways she was firmly of her era. She chose not to take a progressive stance on serfdom, and when a cabinet maker tried to lecture her on the matter, she threw him out, Jaques says. “She’s full of contradictions. She’s ahead of her time she’s enlightened in terms of art. But politically? Not so.”


Catherine the Great: your guide to the famed Empress of Russia

Was Russia's most renowned female ruler Catherine the Great – played by actress Helen Mirren in TV series The Great – an astute military leader and spearhead of human rights? Or was she a "deceitful harlot" who only served the privileged? And the question everyone wants to know: did she murder her husband, Tsar Peter III?

Denne konkurrence er nu lukket

Published: October 21, 2019 at 1:00 pm

When Catherine Alekseyevna, empress consort of all the Russians, awoke on 28 June 1762, it was to startling news. She jumped out of bed, hastily got dressed, and rushed to the carriage that was waiting for her in the grounds of her palace, the Peterhof. Such was Catherine’s haste that morning that she didn’t have time to do her hair before jumping in her carriage. Instead, her expensive French hairdresser attended to it while she swept through the streets of Saint Petersburg.

As the carriage picked up speed, Catherine can hardly have failed to notice that crowds were thronging the roadside to hail her progress. When she reached her destination, it soon became clear why. Her husband, Tsar Peter III of Russia, had been deposed in a coup, led away in tears to a very uncertain future – and Catherine was to replace him.

If Catherine had considered the magnitude of the task that confronted her that morning, she might have headed straight back to bed rather than boldly accept the army’s invitation to become their tsarina. Russia in the mid-18th century was a vast, unruly and, in many ways, backwards country, blighted by poverty and massive inequality. Thanks to her riotous love life, her passion for high art and her fabulously expensive tastes, Catherine would carve out a reputation as one of the most colourful rulers in European history, arguably becoming in the process the most powerful woman in history. But it was her achievement in turning Russia from basket case into a bona fide world superpower that earned her that most prized of epithets, ‘the Great’.

Listen: Janet Hartley explores Catherine the Great’s life and considers whether there is any truth behind the scandals associated with her, on this episode of the HistoryExtra podcast

Timeline: Catherine the Great

21 April 1729*

Sophia of Anhalt Zerbst, the future Catherine the Great, is born in Stettin (now Szczecin in Poland) to Princess Johanna Elizabeth of Holstein-Gottorp and Prince Christian August of Anhalt Zerbst.

21 August 1745

Catherine (the name she took in 1744 when she converted to Russian Orthodoxy) marries the future Peter III in St Petersburg during the reign of Elizabeth.

25 December 1761

Peter III becomes tsar of Russia.

28 June 1762

Peter III is deposed by Catherine with the help of elite army officers, including her lover Grigory Orlov. She becomes empress.

30 July 1767

Catherine publishes her Instruction, which proposes liberal, humanitarian political theories.

25 July 1772

Austria, Prussia and Russia agree to partition Poland-Lithuania. Russia gains territory in Lithuania.

10 July 1774

The Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji (today Kaynardzha in Bulgaria) ends the first Russo-Turkish war (1768–74). Russia acquires significant territory on the northern coast of the Black Sea, including the towns of Kerch and Kinburn and the coast between the rivers Bug and Dnieper.

8 April 1783

Catherine issues a manifesto proclaiming her intention to annex the Crimea from the Ottoman empire. The annexation is confirmed in practice by an agreement with the Turks on 28 December 1783.

21 April 1785

Charters to the nobles and towns are promulgated, clarifying the rights and privileges of nobles and townspeople.

5 October 1791

Grigory Potemkin, Catherine’s favourite and former lover, dies on campaign in Moldavia just before the conclusion of the treaty with the Ottoman empire that ends the second Russo-Turkish War.

13 October 1795

The final partition of Poland-Lithuania is agreed between Austria, Prussia and Russia. Russia acquires 120,000 square km of Lithuania, western Ukraine and Belarus as a result of the three partitions.

6 November 1796

Catherine dies in St Petersburg.

*All dates according to the Julian calendar, used in 18th-century Russia. This timeline first appeared in BBC History Magazine in September 2019

What did Catherine the Great accomplish?

Catherine’s accomplishments are made all the more remarkable by the fact that she didn’t have a single drop of Russian blood in her body. She was born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg on 2 May 1729 in what was then the city of Stettin (now Szczecin in Poland) to Prussian aristocrats. Her mother, Princess Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp, was a very small fish in Europe’s royal pond but she did have limitless ambition for her daughter and, just as importantly, connections. And it was one of these connections that enabled her to wangle an invitation for the young Catherine to the court of Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Luckily for Johanna, Catherine was a gifted girl. She was pretty, intelligent and, above all, charming, and her magnetic personality had soon enchanted Elizabeth – so much so that the Russian empress engineered Catherine’s engagement to her nephew, Peter.

Catherine’s union with Russia’s heir apparent would catapult her onto the world stage. But as a relationship, it was a car crash. She was worldly and cultured, devouring books on politics and history, and later exchanging letters with the French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire. Peter was self-absorbed and immature, “talking”, as Catherine wrote, “of nothing but soldiers and toys. I listened politely and often yawned but did not interrupt him.”

Their marriage got off to an awful start – on their wedding night Peter left his new wife in bed while he caroused downstairs with his friends – and, with Peter’s elevation to tsar on his aunt’s death in December 1761, things only got worse. Soon he was taking mistresses and openly talking of pushing Catherine aside to allow one of them to rule with him. Not even the birth of a son, Paul, could save the marriage – rumours abounded that Paul’s father was in fact Catherine’s lover, the handsome courtier Sergei Saltykov .

He may have been tsar, but Peter suffered one crucial disadvantage in his confrontation with his wife – he was reviled by swathes of the Russian army. So when Catherine engineered a coup against him – with the help of artillery officer Grigory Orlov – it quickly picked up a devastating momentum. Peter, it was said, “gave up the throne like a child being put to bed”. For the most part, Russia’s church, military and aristocracy welcomed their new female ruler. But the Empress had even bigger fish to fry. She wanted Europe’s superpowers – Britain and France – to accord her nation the respect that she believed it deserved, and that could only be achieved on the military stage.

The great debate: did Catherine the Great kill her husband?

Coups were hardly rare in early-modern Europe, but what makes Tsar Peter III’s downfall in the summer of 1762 so intriguing is the identity of those who masterminded it. That Catherine was complicit in the deposition of her husband is almost beyond doubt – the couple’s relationship had long turned toxic, she had everything to gain from his removal (the Russian throne), and her lover, Grigory Orlov, was the public face of the revolt. But what is less certain is Catherine’s role in what happened next.

The coup caught Peter completely on the hop. After formally abdicating, he was. arrested, taken to the village of Ropsha, and placed in the custody of Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov, Grigory’s brother. A few days later he was dead.

The official explanation was that he had fallen victim to ‘haemorrhoidal colic’. But few doubted that he had been murdered. The big question is, did Catherine order the killing?

The fact is, we just don’t know. Most historians agree that she could, if she’d wished, acted to save Peter – by, for example, allowing him a passage into exile – and that she had lots to gain by ridding herself of him for good. But proving that the new empress had her husband’s blood on her hands has so far proved utterly elusive.

Catherine the Great’s military endeavours

Over the next three decades, Catherine’s armies embarked on a series of military endeavours that would establish Russia as an imperial heavyweight. In the east she partitioned Poland and swallowed up swathes of Lithuania and Belarus. In the south, she took the fight to the Ottoman Empire, with spectacular results.

In their confrontations with the Turks, the Russians were greatly hampered by the lack of a naval presence on the Mediterranean. To overcome this Achilles’ heel, Russia’s generals came up with an audacious plan – to sail a fleet over 4,000 miles from its home port in the Baltic around the west of France and Spain, and up the Mediterranean to take the Turks by surprise. Catherine signed off on the plan, and the payback was game-changing – a famous victory at the battle of Chesma in July 1770 (in which Russia lost at most 600 dead to the Turks’ 9,000″ and a foothold in the Mediterranean. She would later annex the Crimea.

More military victories followed – many of them masterminded by the dashing head of Catherine’s armies, Grigory Potemkin. By the mid-1770s, however, Potemkin was a lot more than just the empress’s chief military adviser – he was her lover. Catherine was smitten, calling him “My colossus… my tiger”, and writing: “Me loves General a lot.” If anyone can be called the love of Catherine’s life, it was he.

But he was far from the last. After her affair with Potemkin fizzled out, Catherine took on a string of new lovers – many of them, curiously, recommended by Potemkin himself. And as the Tsarina grew more elderly, so her new beaus appeared to grow younger – the last, Prince Platon Zubov, was 38 years her junior. Sharing a bed with someone old enough to be your grandmother may not have been to everyone’s taste, but it certainly had its compensations. Catherine routinely bestowed her paramours with titles, land and palaces – and, in one case, more than a thousand serfs.

Eligible young army officers weren’t alone in falling for Catherine’s charms. As her global reputation grew, more and more members of Europe’s intelligentsia developed a fascination with her, some travelling east to report back on the enigmatic woman behind Russia’s renaissance.

“The double doors opened and the Empress appeared,” wrote the French portrait artist Madame Vigée Le Brun after observing Catherine at a gala. “I have said that she was quite small, and yet on the days when she made her public appearances, with her head held high, her eagle-like stare and a countenance accustomed to command, all this gave her such an air of majesty that to me she might have been Queen of the World.”

If Catherine the Great had one overarching goal as empress, it was, in her words, to “drag Russia out of its medieval stupor and into the modern world”. In her eyes, that meant introducing Enlightenment values to the darkest recesses of Russian life, and investing vast sums of energy into promoting the arts. At the latter of these two ambitions, Catherine has few equals. She presided over a golden age of Russian culture, buying the art collection of Britain’s first prime minister, Robert Walpole, snapping up cultural treasures from France and, above all, creating one of the world’s great art collections, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. This was no ordinary museum but a shrine to the Enlightenment, and in its galleries Catherine placed 38,000 books, 10,000 drawings and countless engraved gems.

But all this cost money. Eye watering sums of money. Catherine was an inveterate spendthrift, and while she frittered 12 per cent of Russia’s national budget on her court alone, millions of serfs continued to live in grinding poverty.

How many affairs did Catherine the Great have?

The woman who became Catherine the Great was far from the ideal wife. Her marriage to Peter III of Russia lasted from 1745 until his suspicious death in 1762, and she had at least three lovers during this time (Catherine herself hinted that her husband had not fathered her children). As the widowed empress, she showed great favouritism to male courtiers and gained a reputation for rampant promiscuity that has veiled her love-life in myth. Various scholars have credited her with anywhere between 12 and 300 lovers – and even a secret second marriage.

Broken promises

When Catherine assumed the throne, it appeared that she would make some serious strides towards dismantling a system that, for centuries, had condemned Russia’s serfs to work as virtual slaves for their masters. She sponsored the ‘Nakaz’ (or ‘Instruction’), a draft law code heavily influenced by the principles of the French Enlightenment, which proclaimed the equality of all men before the law and disapproved of the death penalty and torture.

But draft stage is as far as the plans got. Catherine never followed through on the Nakaz, and a few years later, thousands of serfs were rising in revolt. They were led by a Cossack called Yemelyan Pugachev, who not only promised their freedom but declared that he was Catherine’s deposed husband, returning to reclaim his throne. This may sound faintly ridiculous, but for Catherine it was deadly serious and, as the rebels hunted down and butchered 1,500 nobles, she struggled to come up with a response to the insurrection.

When she eventually did, she was utterly ruthless. The revolt was crushed, Pugachev was captured, and he was forced to endure a thoroughly unenlightened death – first he was hanged and then his limbs were chopped off. Before long, Catherine enacted a series of laws that greatly increased the nobility’s privileges. For the vast majority of Russians, freedom would have to wait.

By now, Catherine was an old woman increasingly forced to consider what would happen to her adopted nation after her death. She had a frosty relationship with her son Paul, and made it abundantly clear that she’d far prefer her grandson Alexander to succeed her to the throne. It was a battle she would lose – in the short term at least. On 16 November 1796, Catherine had a stroke while on the toilet (not while performing a bizarre sexual act, as a stubborn but completely fabricated rumour has it) and died the following day. Paul was crowned tsar and, in a remarkable show of spite towards his mother, immediately passed a law banning a woman from ever again taking the throne. But his triumph was to be short-lived. Like his father, he was deposed and assassinated in a coup – to be replaced by Catherine’s favourite, Alexander. Most things that Catherine the Great had willed during her extraordinary life came to pass, and it seems that they continued to do so even beyond the grave.


The story of Catherine the Great, but not as you've seen it before

It takes enormous courage in the historical drama genre to declare that your work plays fast and loose with the facts. Most such period epics are obsessed with getting it right, or hiding the cracks where they have parted ways with the history books.

The Great, Australian screenwriter Tony McNamara's hilarious take on the life of Russian sovereign Catherine the Great, does none of that. Instead it wears the badge of "historically inaccurate" with some pride, McNamara says.

Elle Fanning takes centrestage in Tony McNamara's historical drama The Great. Credit: Ollie Upton / Hulu

"I think the title card reads ɺn occasionally true story'," he says, laughing. "And yet it was important to me that there were tent poles of things that were true. How she dealt with smallpox, trying to bring a vaccine to the country, her being a kid who didn't speak the language, marrying the wrong man and responding to that by deciding to change the country."

Those events, McNamara says, "show the essence of her courage, the things she struggled with and the things she wasn't perfect with. There were certain bedrock things I was like, 'We're going to do this, this and this. Within that we can do other stuff that we've made up.' It's not a history lesson but we owe a certain loyalty to our idea of her and what she meant."

The Great stars Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, and Nicholas Hoult as Peter III, her husband and, ultimately, the man she overthrew to claim power for herself. As with McNamara's film The Rage in Placid Lake, which was based on his play The Cafe Latte Kid, The Great is based on another of McNamara's stage works, a play of the same name mounted by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2008.

''When I write theatre, which I do less now, there is a lot of freedom," McNamara says. "You can do anything stylistically. I think that wasn't the case with TV and that's what's changed dramatically. TV's become a wild, try-anything kind of world so I think it gave me an ability to just try this crazy way of writing a period comedy.

Fanning, pretty in pink, as Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. Credit: Jason Bell / Hulu

"We tried to make The Great as a film and for a long time people didn't want to spend that kind of money on something that seemed, tonally, such a roll of the dice," McNamara adds. "It took a long time for TV to change and then luckily I wrote The Favourite for Yorgos [Lanthimos, the director] and that helped period things that were a bit different get across the line."

Unusually in the realm of stage or book-to-screen adaptations, much of The Great has made the transition intact, McNamara says.

"The show is based on the first 40 minutes of the play, because the second half of the play was a much older Catherine the Great and the first half was young Catherine coming to Russia," he says. "Tonally, it's very, very similar. Probably, lots of the scenes from the play are in the show, more or less complete."

Though the production tackles the life of the young woman born Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg with some mischief, McNamara is a passionate defender of her reputation. History is unkind to her, he says, because it is largely written by men, but also because her enemies put to the page a version of her that served them politically.

"It seemed like her life had been reduced to a salacious headline about having sex with a horse," McNamara says. "Yet, sheɽ done an enormous amount of amazing things, had been a kid whoɽ come to a country that wasn't her own and taken it over.

"One of the things she was completely unapologetic about was her sexual life," McNamara adds. "She saw it as a strength and people used [that] against her. The horse rumour was just a political cartoon. I think it wasn't kind to her and so maybe this redresses the balance a little bit."

Given the success of another of McNamara's projects, The Favourite – a period comedy about the rivalry between two royal cousins vying for the approval of Queen Anne in 18th century England − McNamara has become something of a go-to man for period comedy, even though that is not a space he ever sought to step into as a writer.

"It's a little bit odd because most of the stuff I did was very contemporary," he says. "In TV, Love My Way og Tangle, very dramatic but very contemporary work. I didn't really want to do a period thing, per se, I just wanted to write about Catherine the Great and then The Favourite came along."

McNamara has written a new film for Lanthimos, another period story, he says, but does not divulge details. Now passionate about the genre, McNamara says it gives him a scale that is difficult to capture in contemporary storytelling.

"I think that scale is something that I like as a writer because it gives me a little more leeway, a little more freedom to be extreme," he says. "It accidentally played into my strengths as a writer. So it freed me up in a way that maybe contemporary stuff didn't, to be stylistically bold."

The genre also gives him freedom to lurch between frivolous comedic moments and emotionally devastating moments. Bridging the two tonalities is challenging but achievable, he says, so long as everything on the page is true to the character.

"As long as they're very true to that moment, they're not reaching for the jokes so much, it's just about them responding and that moment happens to be funny, then when something terrible happens and they respond to that, I think for the audience it all feels true," he says.

McNamara cites the examples of writer Larry Gelbart, who developed MOSE, and filmmakers Hal Ashby and Mike Nichols, as masters in that field. "In MOSE, for example, it's out-of-control funny and then they're in an operating theatre and people are dying all around them," McNamara says. "Larry doesn't walk away from either. He takes the moments when the deaths happen. That's what I grew up watching and that's always been my favourite kind of writing."

The Great premieres on Stan on May 16. Stan and this masthead are owned by Nine.