Every story has an ending, and we’ve reached the end of Catherine the Great. Born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia…converted to Catherine II by the Russian Orthodox Church…and becoming Catherine the Great within the pages of history. It’s time to talk about the final days of Catherine the Great, the mist of propaganda myths that surround them, and the future of Russia afterwards.
Catherine has found herself in a rather delicate situation. Her third child, fathered by her newest lover Grigory Orlov, had just very recently been born; her dunce of a husband Peter III had just taken over the country; and everyone around her was waiting for some sort of coup to occur. France and Austria weren’t too pleased to hear that Peter III had been able to take over the throne of Russia. The Prussian boy who had always been obsessed with military drab had obvious sympathies for Frederick the Great – the land-grabbing military madman who was pushing through central Europe.
Most people assumed that, since Catherine had done her job of producing a “legitimate” heir, she wouldn’t really be seen with Peter, her horrendous husband, anymore. Imagine the surprise people had when she entered Peter’s birthday ball in a superb, diamond-encrusted blue dress in an extravagant entrance! The mother of the heir was more than just the mother of the heir after that; she became a social figure…and with due time she was able to transform herself from something other than her previous personality.
After a wedding ceremony that lasted four hours and receiving a ring worth more than the average village this side of the Don River, Catherine and Peter were an item – a dysfunctional royal one. The obsession so many young girls have with becoming a princess and being whisked away to a powerful kingdom to have a happily ever after with some Prince Charming is…fantasy at that. Catherine’s marriage was Peter was objectionable at best.
Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg was born in the small city of Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia. Depending on the calendar system you use, we’re talking about either April 21st or May 2nd of 1729. Stettin, once part of the Kingdom of Prussia, is now renamed and within jurisdiction of modern-day Poland. In fact, it’s now the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship, serving as a major seaport for Poland by the Baltic Sea.