Good morning, we are continuing with our Women Who Made History Series. These stories have been interesting to watch and I hope that there can be more episodes in the future of Women Who Made History. This time we are going to explore the life of Catherine the Great: The run time for this episode is 48:32.
Catherine was born Princess Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt-Zerbst. She was chosen to become the bride of the next heir to the Russian Throne: Peter. It was a journey of several months thousands of miles. It was the chance of a lifetime for Sophie and her family. She had to prove herself worthy to be Peter’s bride. When she arrived in Russia, she made a clean break from her past and became fully Russian. How would Catherine adjust to life in Russia?
This story starts off with the arrival of Catherine and her mother at a tavern. There they encounter a riotous crowd. Catherine’s mother hates the crowd while Catherine revels in the atmosphere. Her birth was a disappointment to her mother because she was neither a boy nor a pretty baby. However, things changed for Sophie when she was chosen to be the bride of Grand Duke Peter. The journey to Russia was a challenge, made even more challenging for Sophie because of the cutting her mother made her.
They arrived in Moscow where they could meet with Empress Elizabeth. It is here that Sophie meets up with her lady in waiting. It was here Sophie would learn her first lessons in the court of Empress Elizabeth. There was no privacy in the palace, even the walls had ears. Upon arrival in Moscow, Sophie meets Empress Elizabeth and her future husband.
Sophie would then convert to Orthodoxy and become Catherine. After this conversion, she married Peter. Catherine’s mother soon left the court and she would be left alone with her husband. Catherine would leave the past behind her and become immersed in Russian culture. She started learning Russian. While Catherine immersed herself in Russian culture and the Russian language, her husband Peter refused to adapt to his new country. He loved everything Prussian and felt like becoming the next Emperor was a punishment. He was also more interested in playing with toy soldiers than Catherine.
The pressure was on for the pair of them to have children. After eight years of marriage, there still was not a child. Catherine was failing in her holy duty of motherhood. The days stretched and Catherine grew bored with her life. She started reading, first novels and then history books. Books gave her something to think about other than court gossip and clothing. Empress Elizabeth stepped in. Catherine would meet someone who would break this cycle of boredom.
Catherine met Sergei Saltkow when the young court was at a hunting party. They became lovers and Catherine was soon pregnant. The news delighted Empress Elizabeth, she was relieved when Catherine told her the news. Sergei was sent away from court with the news. She would give birth to a baby boy. Empress Elizabeth took the baby away. Others would determine Paul’s fate. Catherine on the other hand was determined to make her own way in court. Catherine found her own amusements in court and eventually she took another lover: Gregory Orlov. Then there were others.
After eighteen years in the Russian Court, Empress Elizabeth fell ill. Events started swirling around and everyone jockeyed for position in the new government. Peter kept up to date on Elizabeth’s condition as well as the condition of the young Ivan. Ivan was a prisoner of Elizabeth and a contender for the Russian throne. Eventually, Empress Elizabeth died and Grand Duke Peter would become Emperor. Would Catherine rule by his side? How would Peter handle ruling the largest kingdom in Europe? How would Catherine navigate these troubled waters? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more about Catherine.
This documentary has some mature content so this documentary should be for older students and students who can handle the content. So I would show this to a college history class. It would recommend this for college independent study students as well.
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