Author Topic: Empress Catherine II  (Read 116161 times)

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Offline Tsarina_Liz

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #180 on: January 04, 2007, 06:14:50 PM »
Well, Paul hated his mother for a variety of reasons, but although he was her heir, he was never much of a favorite of her. Elizabeth, empress at the time of Paul's birth took him away right after his birth, and tried to raise him. As well, he was born in turbulent circumstances, although he was certainly welcomed, as an heir was much needed.

Good point.  Catherine's children were never really hers, they were the emotional and dynastic property of Elizabeth.  Catherine was just the brood mare.  Just as Catherine owned and adored her grandchildren.  Remember, too, that at the time Catherine bore Paul she was in an increasingly tense and dangerous situation and really had to spend all of her time simply surviving the Russian Court.  Even had she wanted to lavish attention on him, her energies were needed elsewhere.  And not, in the long run, for her own survival but also her children's. Catherine may have been distant and emotionally icy, but she had her reasons.  On the flip side, perhaps one of the reasons she adored her grandchildren so much is that she could.  By the time they were born she was relatively stable and the country runningly more or less smoothly and she had the option of romping about.  Pity her poor daughers in law, however, for they became the brood mares... 
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline lori_c

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #181 on: January 05, 2007, 10:58:19 AM »
I thought I read that somewhere as well, but can't remember more either. I think he was, all through his mother's reign saving himself up, with venom for when it was his turn. But, he did at times give the impression of getting along with her. It was a relationship where there wasn't much love lost, yet maybe they loved each other in their own way. That seems doubtful though. Maybe that note was the final straw for him. I don't think Catherine had much of a relationship with her other son, although I think he eventually knew who his mother was. If anyone has more info on that, please post.

I think i read that they were close  until Paul was about 8.  Also, his tutor had a very bad opinion of Catherine and her way of life and the tutor influenced Paul very much.  Though Catherine was converted to Orthodoxy and practiced it in public, her views were not very devout.  Conversely, Paul through his tutor, grew up to be a very devout Orthodox Christian which also influenced his later views of his mother.  But the biggest things seem to be her leaving him out of affairs of state to forced retirement at Gatchina and the rumours whispered behind his back about his paternity.  He also heard of rumours of his mother wanting him dead.  These things only reinforced what the tutor had already drilled into his head.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #182 on: January 06, 2007, 03:04:49 PM »
I have always felt that Catherine sort of used Paul as heir to get the throne. He was really the heir, because he officially at least, had Romanov blood, and was the recognized legitimate son of Peter III. So, when Peter was dead he was the next heir. Of course, during his minority someone had to rule. When Catherine took the throne, she may have made it look like she was only ruling for his minority, and I am sure many people thought that. But, she ruled long past that, and he never got his fair chance at the age he should have. She never recognized him as ruler, true, during the years of his minority which was usually done even when the person was not actually ruling, due to their age. This might have been the first tip off. But, of course, by the time he was of age, she was there to stay. He may have resented that, as he got older, and perhaps his links to his father were important to him in part because it reinforced his claim to the throne, although he would have never dared voice that in her lifetime.

Offline Tsarina_Liz

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #183 on: January 06, 2007, 08:21:17 PM »
I have always felt that Catherine sort of used Paul as heir to get the throne. He was really the heir, because he officially at least, had Romanov blood, and was the recognized legitimate son of Peter III. So, when Peter was dead he was the next heir. Of course, during his minority someone had to rule. When Catherine took the throne, she may have made it look like she was only ruling for his minority, and I am sure many people thought that. But, she ruled long past that, and he never got his fair chance at the age he should have. She never recognized him as ruler, true, during the years of his minority which was usually done even when the person was not actually ruling, due to their age. This might have been the first tip off. But, of course, by the time he was of age, she was there to stay. He may have resented that, as he got older, and perhaps his links to his father were important to him in part because it reinforced his claim to the throne, although he would have never dared voice that in her lifetime.

Interesting perspective.  Catherine did indeed, upon a closer look, use Paul.  He was a tool, a stepping stone to the throne.  That, then, makes me wonder if Catherine did indeed love her son but distanced herself emotionally because she knew she would have to use him (rather mercilessly) to secure the throne.  And that, when she did obtain the throne, she would constantly have to rebuff his hereditary rights and influence in order to keep the throne.  A lack of emotional attachment would have made it easier to push him into the background, to undermine his popularity and power. 
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #184 on: January 07, 2007, 04:56:27 PM »
That's a good point, I agree exactly. Catherine I think in her memoirs does seem to say she loved her son when he was taken away from her at birth, and that the only reason that she did not have more contact with him when he was young was because of Elizabeth, who treated him as the child she never had (as far as we know). She must not have remembered that when she took away Paul's older sons and raised them like her own children. Of course, in her case she had had children, but one son she never had any contact with due to circumstances, and the other was Paul, with whom her relationship was complicated. She might have been trying to make up for what happened to her, but that kind of shows how she could be. She would say she would make reforms, but then she would forget her youthful idealism, and bend to circumstances. Taking away her two oldest grandsons seems like that again. Of course, M. F., Paul's wife had other children later, so it never effected her as much as it perhaps did Catherine.

Offline Tsarina_Liz

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #185 on: January 10, 2007, 12:13:11 PM »
That's a good point, I agree exactly. Catherine I think in her memoirs does seem to say she loved her son when he was taken away from her at birth, and that the only reason that she did not have more contact with him when he was young was because of Elizabeth, who treated him as the child she never had (as far as we know). She must not have remembered that when she took away Paul's older sons and raised them like her own children. Of course, in her case she had had children, but one son she never had any contact with due to circumstances, and the other was Paul, with whom her relationship was complicated. She might have been trying to make up for what happened to her, but that kind of shows how she could be. She would say she would make reforms, but then she would forget her youthful idealism, and bend to circumstances. Taking away her two oldest grandsons seems like that again. Of course, M. F., Paul's wife had other children later, so it never effected her as much as it perhaps did Catherine.

Well put.  This makes me wonder, also, if both Catherine and Elizabeth were acting in their grandchildren's best interest by removing the children from their parents at birth.  Neither Peter III and Paul would have been ideal role models, and the younger the children the more impressionable they were.  It may seem cruel, whisking away the children from their loving mothers, but it may have prevented a considerable amount of damage.  Imagine how much worse Paul would have been if he had been raised within the constant presence of his Peter.  Elizabeth was probaby terrified the child's first words would be praise for Prussia!  Catherine probably felt the same way, and chose to ignore any negative memories she personally had of her own seperation.  Both Elizabeth and Catherine wanted the children raised in their image, and unfortunately both of them failed miserably. 

"She would say she would make reforms, but then she would forget her youthful idealism, and bend to circumstances."  You nailed her personality! 
Hindsight is 20/20.  When the myopic haze of of the present is lifted by the march of time we see it clearly as the past.  Sociology, psychology, anthropology.  They are all means of understanding that which came before.  History cannot stand alone.

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #186 on: January 10, 2007, 12:54:36 PM »
I guess I have always thought that it was negative to take them away, but in the case of Paul, he might not have paid much attention by Catherine anyway. She had lovers during those years, was quite estranged from her husband, and she was getting more interested in political stuff. She might not have paid him any worthwhile attention. Peter would indeed have been a bad influence, and I don't know how much he would have been around. He always regarded Paul as his son though. I think Elizabeth was too near the end of her life and reign and also involved in her own pleasures to give Paul much good attention either. He was very wanted, but not given what he needed to be a very good person, or future ruler. I think he was always confused.

Catherine did want to make her grandsons in her image, and wanted one to rule Russia, and the other to rule from Constantinople, hence his name, Constantine. Elizabeth may have wished to protect Paul from his parents, or she may have wished to guard the precious future heir that came at such seemingly great cost. It's hard to know, and maybe she wanted him to take her as an example. I think she most wanted to keep him away from his father though. But, in spite of everything, he did take the kind of views his father had had so long ago when he came to the throne. Of course, he was more intelligent and able, but all that got lost in the influence of his past.

Offline Caleb

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #187 on: January 10, 2007, 04:52:15 PM »
Wouldn't such indescreet affairs encurr the wrath of the Orthodox Church particularly because Exodus 20:14 says "Thou shalt not commit adultery?"

Offline imperial angel

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #188 on: January 10, 2007, 06:03:17 PM »
I think they just ignored it. After all, she was Empress of Russia, and she could do anything she wished, since she was an autocrat. They certainly knew she had authority over them, and did not wish to arouse her wrath, although they must have disaproved. But, after all she was not the first Russian monarch to have such indiscreet affairs as you call them. Empress Elizabeth and Peter the Great were scarcely paragons, they had many lovers, and Peter was married. Empress Anna as well was like this. But, they got away with it, although the Orthodox church did not like Peter because of other reasons, his westernizing Russia, basically.

Offline James1941

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #189 on: January 26, 2007, 06:06:57 PM »
The Bible says one shouldn't do a lot of things, but the members of the Orthodox Church did them anyway.

Offline ilyala

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #190 on: January 28, 2007, 04:22:19 AM »
the bible says we shouldn't do a lot of things but all the churches do them anyway.

if you check out any religion you will see many contradictions between its base books and teachings (the bible, the kuran, etc.) and what is really happening. not to mention that the whole attitude the christian church had in the middle ages is miles away from what jesus preached.

the church had a way of wanting to meddle in affairs of state. of wanting earth power as well as spiritual. that tended to get in the way of the christian preachings. it still does.
'loving might be a mistake, but it's worth making'
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Offline imperial angel

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #191 on: January 28, 2007, 08:08:01 PM »
The earlier Romanovs may not have been the greatest paragons of family life ( in contrast to the later ones, Alexander III and his family, and Nicholas II), yet Peter the Great and his son Tsarvitch Alexei were what you might call religious. This goes for Tsarvitch Alexei specifically. He simply saw no contradiction between his rather wild private life, and his religious side. Peter the Great was more conventionally religious, although he did enjoy making fun of the church to some extent. Catherine the Great was not religious at all, from what I have read. I'm sure she didn't care.

Offline ilyala

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #192 on: January 29, 2007, 12:04:48 AM »
i'm sure pope alexander 6th himself didn't think there was anything wrong with being a 50 year old pope that has a teenage mistress openly living with him and his daughter either... he probably thought, hey but i do my job as a pope, i'm religious, god loves me!
'loving might be a mistake, but it's worth making'
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Offline imperial angel

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #193 on: January 29, 2007, 04:36:18 PM »
In general, I think Catherine just thought her private life was her business. As an autocrat, she could make the public affairs of the country her private business, so after that you know that she certainly regarded such things as her having lovers as far from the business of the church. Even before her, the Russian court along with its rulers, was one of the most licentious courts in Europe. Catherine wasn't setting the tone, she was merely going along with a grand tradition of Russian monarchs.

Offline ilyala

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Re: Empress Catherine II
« Reply #194 on: January 29, 2007, 11:54:27 PM »
in my opinion, catherine was one of the least sinning monarchs out there. i have expressed this opinion on the windsor board too: i would rather have a head of state that sleeps around but does the job right than a pious head of state who leaves the country a mess.

unfortunately, i can say that my statistics show that most pious heads of state were not very effective as heads of state. they were just pious. catherine did her job well and considering the circumstances i think her lovers can be cast aside when judging her. actually, in accordance to our times' values, she'd be just a single mother who's having a social life.
'loving might be a mistake, but it's worth making'
ilya