Catherine I of Russia - Wikipedia
Russian Empress Catherine I was the second wife of Peter I the Great and Empress of Russia from to Peter the Great introduced many reforms with the objective of turning Russia into a modern absolute monarchy capable of competing successfully against. Catherine I was the second wife of Peter the Great and Empress of Russia from until her The relationship was the most successful of Peter's life and a great number of letters exist demonstrating the strong affection between Catherine.
The couple married in but the marriage was kept secret for a number of years even after she had given birth to a number of children. Here Catherine is said to have saved Peter and his Empire. Teetering on the brink of defeat, the Russian troops were surrounded by the Turks, who exceeded the Russians in number.
Catherine suggested before surrendering, her jewels and those of the other women present be used in an effort to bribe the Grand Vizier Baltaji into allowing a retreat.
Baltaji allowed the retreat, but whether he was motivated by the bribe or by considerations of trade and diplomacy remains unknown. Peter feared breaking the traditions of his ancestors but he credited Catherine and proceeded to marry her again this time officially at Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg on 9 February On 19 February Catherine and Peter legitimized their two daughters, Anna, born in and Elizaveta, born in They were officially acknowledged as princesses.
Catherine always accompanied Peter on his foreign travels, including the Persian War of However, very often Catherine was a slave to her passions. She is said to have had an intrigue with her former benefactor Aleksandr Menshikov.
Being unfaithful to Peter she in turn generously forgave him his love affairs. Seeking to please her husband Catherine treated her rivals amiably at court. The year before his death, Peter and Catherine had an estrangement over her support of William Mons the brother of Peter's former mistress and secretary to Catherine and his sister, one of Catherine's ladies-in-waiting. All his life Peter had led a bitter struggle against corruption in the country.
William Mons and his sister had begun selling their influence to those who wanted access to Catherine and, through her, to Peter. Apparently this had been overlooked by Catherine, who was fond of both. Peter was already seriously ill when he drew up his will, naming Catherine his successor and the sovereign of the Russian Empire.
Peter also ordered Mons, who was charged with bribery, executed. Mons was beheaded on 16 November and his sister was exiled. Catherine showed no signs of remorse or even disappointment when she learned her alleged lover was dead, on the contrary she was in high spirits on this day.
When Peter deliberately took her out for a walk and passed by the site of the execution where Catherine saw the head of her lover, she maintained her composure, looked down and said simply: But before he died, they reached reconciliation. Ascension to the throne In Catherine was officially named co-ruler and when Peter died in without naming an heir, Catherine's candidacy for the throne was supported by the guards of the Semenovsky and Preobrazhensky regiments that liked Peter very much and after his death transferred their trust and devotion to his wife Catherine.
Her candidacy was also supported by several powerful and important individuals who saw Catherine as their guarantee to maintaining their power. As a result, the Holy Synod, the Senate and other high officials almost immediately proclaimed Catherine Empress of Russia.
She named six of Peter's former advisors as its members and effectively transferred control of government affairs to the new body, thereby undermining the authority of the Senate and the Synod, which had been Peter's main administrative instruments. During Catherine's reign, the Council was dominated by Prince Menshikov. But Catherine still enjoyed the support of ordinary Russians — they loved their Empress for her kindness and generosity.
She easily granted money to the poor, became the godmother to the children of peasants and gave generously to widowed brides. But her foreign activity was restricted to diplomatic letters supporting the interests of her son-in-law Karl Friedrich, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.
At the time of Peter's death Russia's army was easily the largest in Europe. Since the nation was at peace, Catherine was determined to reduce military expenditures and she succeeded in this. Smaller taxes for peasants, which resulted from her actions, led to her reputation as a just and fair ruler. Things came to such a pass that, in the spring ofan English squadron was sent to the Baltic Sea and cast anchor before the town of Reval.
The Empress fiercely protested and the fleet was pulled out, but on 6 August Catherine acceded to the anti-English Austro-Spanish league. She was the first royal owner of the Tsarskoye Selo estate, where the Catherine Palace still bears her name. She was also interested in the fleet her husband was so obsessed with. Catherine gave her name to Ekaterinehof near St.Catherine the Great trailer eng sub
Petersburg and built the first bridges in the new capital. Before she died in at the age of 43, Catherine willed the throne of Russia to the year-old grandson of Peter the Great, who was crowned in Uspensky Cathedral in and proclaimed Emperor Peter II.
This girl was a prisoner named Martha, and she was living as a sort of servant and housekeeper in the family of the Russian officer. She had been taken prisoner when the town she lived in was captured. Nobody knows, even to this day, exactly who she was, except that she was a poor orphan girl who had been brought up by a village clergyman; but it is generally believed that her father was a Livonian peasant.
Martha's beauty and the brightness of her mind pleased the emperor so much that, after a while, he made up his mind to marry her, in spite of her humble origin. Peter was in the habit of doing pretty much as he pleased, whether his nobles liked it or not; but even he dared not make a captive peasant girl the Empress of Russia. He therefore married her privately, in the presence of a few of his nearest friends, who were charged to keep the secret.
Before the marriage took place he had Martha baptized in the Russian Church, and changed her name to Catherine. Now Peter had a bad habit of losing his temper, and getting so angry that he fell into fits. As he was an absolute monarch and could do whatever he liked, it was very dangerous for anybody to go near him when he was angry.
He could have a head chopped off as easily as he could order his breakfast. But he was very fond of Catherine, and she was the only person who was not in the least afraid of him.
THE STORY OF CATHERINE
She soon learned how to manage him, and even in his worst fits she could soothe and quiet the old bear. Peter was nearly always at war, and in spite of the hardships and dangers of the camp and battle-field Catherine always marched with him at the head of the army.
The soldiers wondered at her bravery, and learned to like her more than anybody else. If food was scarce, the roads rough, and the marches long, they remembered, that Catherine was with them, and were ashamed to grumble.
If she could stand the hardships and face the dangers, they thought rough soldiers ought not to complain. Catherine was a wise woman as well as a brave one.
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She soon learned as much of the art of war as Peter knew, and in every time of doubt or difficulty her advice was asked, and her opinion counted for as much as if she had been one of the generals.
After she had thus shown how able a woman she was, and had won the friendship of everybody about her by her good temper and her pleasant ways, Peter publicly announced his marriage, and declared Catherine to be his wife and czarina. But still he did not crown her. This was in the yearand immediately afterwards Peter marched into the Turkish country at the head of forty thousand men. This army was not nearly large enough to meet the Turks, but Peter had other armies in different places, and had ordered all of them to meet him on the march.
For various reasons all these armies failed to join him, and he found himself in a Turkish province with a very small number of troops. The danger was so great that he ordered Catherine and all the other women to go back to a place of safety.
But Catherine would not go. She had made up her mind to stay with Peter at the head of the army, and was so obstinate about it that at last Peter gave her leave to remain.
The Story Of Peter The Great's Wife, Catherine
Then the wives of the generals, and, finally, of the lower officers, wanted to stay also. She persuaded Peter to let them do so, and the end of it was that the women all stayed with the army. Everything went against Peter on this march. The weather was very dry. Swarms of locusts were in the country, eating every green thing. There was no food for the horses, and many of them starved to death. It was hard for the Russians to go forward or to go backward, and harder still to stay where they were.
At last the soldiers in front reported that the Turks were coming, and Peter soon saw a great army of two hundred thousand fierce Moslems in front of his little force, which counted up only thirty-eight thousand men.
Seeing the odds against him he gave the order to retreat, and the army began its backward march. As it neared the river Pruth a new danger showed itself. The advance-guard brought word that a great force of savage Crim Tartars held the other bank of the river, completely cutting off Peter's retreat. The state of things seemed hopeless. With two hundred thousand Turks on one side, and a strong force of Crim Tartars holding a river on the other, Peter's little army was completely hemmed in.
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There was no water in the camp, and when the soldiers went to the river for it, the Tartars on the other shore kept up a fierce fight with them.