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Topic: Empress Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great  (Read 15071 times)
« on: August 26, 2005, 01:40:27 AM »
ilyala Offline
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she had an interesting life, from servant to courtesan to tsarina, to empress... i thought it would be nice to start a topic on her Smiley
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Reply #1
« on: September 11, 2005, 05:15:29 PM »
grandduchess_42 Offline
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pictures of Peter I and Catherine I.



close ups


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Reply #2
« on: April 11, 2006, 09:52:50 AM »
imperial angel Offline
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Certainly, she did. It seems that not many how are interested because no one has ever posted to this. Her husband is famous, and so is her life story. I actually think there is a great deal about her most books. She was a somewhat self indulgent woman, not interested in power, and of no great political ability. She did reign, but although she didn't do any harm, I'm not sure she did any good either. She was pretty, in a dark way, judging from the oft seen portrait of her in that blue dress. She was a satisfaction to Peter the Great, though, and that's saying alot. Does anyone else have anything to say?
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Reply #3
« on: April 11, 2006, 10:42:07 AM »
Robert_Hall Offline
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I may [have something to say about her] after I read FIVE EMPRESSES by Anisimov.  I have run out of time however, as I leave soon for my UK/Russia visits and have too many books to carry as it is- stay tuned !
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Reply #4
« on: April 11, 2006, 01:06:21 PM »
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Apart from the fact that she made it to Empress in the first place (as an ex-peasant), her reign was pretty unspectacular. It was really Menschikov who ruled during her reign.

She had been lucky not to have been sent to a convent or worse the year before, as Peter suspected her of an affair with William Mons. I don't think she would have been Empress at all if it hadn't been for Peter's unexpected death.

Like all the Empresses she was rather overweight .... and I believe she drank!

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Reply #5
« on: April 12, 2006, 02:20:18 AM »
ilyala Offline
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i read that peter had many violent crisis (epilepsy?) and that she was the only one who could calm him down. she went with him at war, stayed in his tent...

she came to the throne through menshikov who influenced the guards into showing her support. the guards shut up the dolgorukys when the succession was discussed and so she got it. she was very vengeful towards evdokia, peter's first wife, who was moved into a dark cell in the schulsselburg fortress. the power was indeed in the hands of menshikov while catherine enjoyed the pleasures of wine and food and, not in the least, the conjugal ones (with menshikov).

catherine wanted her daughter elisabeth to inherit her, but the public was on peter 2nd's side. menshikov convinced catherine to approve peter's marriage to his daughter, maria (one can only guess what immense power he had over her). she died of fever on the 6th of may 1727
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Reply #6
« on: April 12, 2006, 06:30:48 AM »
imperial angel Offline
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Yes, like many of the female rulers of Russia atferward, she enjoyed lovers, drink, and dissipation. Her husband was about the same however. She was also overweight, although she had a beauty that can be seen in portraits of her younger years. One can see why she was raised from a peasant, to Czar's wife, to Empress in her own right by Peter the Great-and he was hard to please! I think she had no political ability, that's true, nor any interest in such things. She spent much of her short reign partying, to use a more modern term.
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Reply #7
« on: November 04, 2006, 01:26:39 PM »
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I felt surprised while I was checking the board searching for threads focused on Martha Skavronska, later Ekaterina Alexeyevna, later tsarina Ekaterina I of Russia. I only have found a very brief thread about this woman, and it amazes me because she was the first female sovereign of the empire and also the mother of a great empress, Elisabeth Petrovna.

Her story is fulfilled with interesting and intriguing episodes. He knew little about her childhood and early youth. He knew little about her career before the first meeting with Peter the Great. He can speculate about her relationship with Alexander Danilovich Menshikov, but also with Willem Mons. She was a clever and good-hearted woman, the only one who could managed well with such a difficult man and husband as Peter was with her strength, her common-sense and her devotion to him.

She was, at the first, Martha Samuilovna Skavronska. Her father, the lithuanian peasant Samuil Skavronsky, had two wives, Dorothea Hann and Elisabeth Moritz. It seems clear that Elisabeth Moritz gave him five children: Martha, Karl, Theodor, Anna and Christine. When Samuil and Elisabeth died, the children were under the care of their relatives. Very soon, Martha was sent to the home of a lutheran priest, Ernst Glück, at Marienburg. She was, essentially, a home servant. But when she reached the first youth, she had became a pretty and vivacious girl. And Mrs Glück was fearful that the girl could caught the eye of her husband or, maybe, her elder son. So, Martha was engaged -perhaps married- to a swedish dragon, Johannes Raabe. Their conjugal life ended in eight years...when russian forces captured Marienburg. Martha Skavronska became a servant of the russian military chief Boris Sheremetev.

Later, she became servant of prince Alexander Danilovich Menshikov. It is said that Alexander and Martha were lovers, but I really doubt it. By this time, he was madly in love with Darya Mikhailovna Arseyevna, who, with her sister Varvara, belonged to the house of tsarevna Natalya Alexeyevna, sister of Peter the Great. As Massie states in his wonderful bio on Peter, it could be that Menshikov entertained the nights with a beautiful and attractive lithuanian servant while he made courtship to Daria, but there´s no evidence about an intimate relationship between the prince and the humble girl.

At Menshikov´s house, Martha met for the first time Peter. The servant caught the eye of the sovereign, and he ordered: "When I go to bed, you, beauty, take a candle and light the way". This was the beginning of a long-standing relationship. He firstly married her secretly, and, a few years later, took place a public wedding after the Pruth campaign, when she had borne him five children. Martha, who had became Ekaterina Alexeyevna, was solemnly crowned empress-consort on the 7th of May 1724. She wore a crown with no fewer than 2564 precious stones.

Whitin a few months of her triumph, she was threatened with utter ruin by the discovery of a supposed liaison with her gentleman of the bedchamber, a very handsome but also very unscrupulous man named Willen Mons. Willen was the brother of two fascinating women: Anna, former mistress of Peter the Great, who has to be tsarina but fell from grace because her sovereign discovered she was involved with a prussian ambassador, and Matryona, by her marriage Matryona Balk, lady in waiting and friend of Ekaterina. It´s strange, but Ekaterina has as her favourite lady in waiting the sister of a mistress of Peter, and as her supposed lover the brother of a mistress of Peter. Willen was executed with great cruelty, Matryona was exiled for years at Siberia and Ekaterina did not speak with Peter for several months. But, at the end, the imperial couple was reconciled.

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Reply #8
« on: November 05, 2006, 06:01:36 PM »
imperial angel Offline
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Yes, Catherine attracted Peter the Great, although she really was no beauty. But she was a strong woman who could hold her own with him, and live his lifestyle, and that mattered more to him. Such a woman was rather unusual, and Catherine did have a sensous, earthy beauty. That appealed to him as well, but I think it was more personality. She liked to have fun, and did briefly when she was Empress after his death, to a great degree. But she enjoyed being his wife as well, theirs was a love match.
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Reply #9
« on: November 06, 2006, 02:05:02 AM »
ilyala Offline
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whatever her relationship with menshikov - it continued after peter died. menshikov was pretty much in charge of everything when catherine ruled. she wasn't a very good tsarina - she didn't care for anything other than her own well-being. but i suppose that could be explained through her long years of literally serving peter.

it was said that peter wanted to discard her when he died and marry his then-mistress maria cantemir. if he did, though, he never had the chance cause he died.
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« on: November 06, 2006, 02:56:27 AM »
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Correct me if I´m making a mistake, Ilyala, but I think that the flirtation between Peter and beautiful Marie Cantemir, the elder daughter of the moldavian voivode Dmitri Cantemir by his first wife Kassandra Cantacuzena, was a very brief story. Marie caught the eye of Peter, and, of course, it was a good deal of gossip about the tsar divorcing the luthenian wife to marry thirdly with the Cantemir girl. Ekaterina must have been felt worried enough about Marie Cantemir, because very soon after the coronation, she obtained the best triumph over her younger rival: Marie was forced to entry in a convent.

I was thinking how strange is the fortune´s wheel. Natalia Balk Lopukhina, the daughter of Feodor and Matryona Balk, so the niece of Anna Mons and Willem Mons, became the relentless enemy of Elisabeth Petrovna. She was involved in the famous Lopukhina Conspiracy and she had a very hard punishment. By the way, Smaragda Cantemir, younger half-sister of Marie Cantemir (she was born from the second wife of the voivode, Anastasia Trubetska), married a prince Galitzine and became one of the best friends of Elisabeth Petrovna.
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Reply #11
« on: November 06, 2006, 03:04:43 AM »
ilyala Offline
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i must confess i don't know how strong the flirt was between peter and maria. i understand she was pregnant at some point and that she miscarried and that had it been a boy that would have been a bit of a challenge to catherine (her sons died very young - simmilar problem to england's henry 8th). but whatever peter's intentions were, the rumours did exist.
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Reply #12
« on: November 06, 2006, 07:37:12 AM »
imperial angel Offline
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I think after that woman miscarried, Peter had no further interest in her. It was even whispered that Catherine had somehow caused the miscarriage to happen, and perhaps, although that might have been rather hard. I think Peter was mostly interested in this mistress from the standpoint of the succession, and once his chance to have a son by her passed by, he was not so interested.It seems to have been a passing fancy. As for Catherine, she wasn't a very good Empress, as she spent her time having fun, and wearing herself out, while other people ruled the country. But her personality and abilities didn't suit being an Empress.
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Reply #13
« on: November 06, 2006, 01:52:20 PM »
Yseult Offline
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As for Catherine, she wasn't a very good Empress, as she spent her time having fun, and wearing herself out, while other people ruled the country. But her personality and abilities didn't suit being an Empress.

Your judgement on Ekaterina as empress seems very hard! Wink

We must remember her origins and her upbringing. She was only a daughter of very humble people...some sources states that both her father and her mother were runaway serfs, and another sources states that her father was gravedigger. And she was raised up in the home of the great pastor Glück, but she was "the servant". She remained illiterate.

The only woman who was strong and energetic enough to catch hold of imperial power in Russia before Ekaterina, was Sophia Alexeyevna. And Sophia was not a typical princess of her times...she broke up the rules of the terem, she turned into pieces the traditional seclusion of the women, because she had been an uncommon child and her father allowed her to receive the same education than her brothers Alexei, Semion and Feodor. Sophia spoke fluently not only russian, but also polish and latin, and she enjoyed herself writting. She had character and all the trainning of a good prince, not of a gentle princess Wink

Of course, Ekaterina was not this kind of woman. She was good-hearted, always cheerful, compassionate, and with a good deal of common sense. She began her reign with a only idea in her mind...to leave the power laying with all the men who have served Peter the Great, from Menshikov to Tolstoy. I think she made a good choice.
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Reply #14
« on: November 06, 2006, 03:41:43 PM »
imperial angel Offline
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Well, I think Catherine was a good wife to Peter the Great, and most likely the only one who could have been in that role. She could keep up with him, and have many children, and be in general as much a woman as she could be, but also very tough too. If she was not tough, she would not have lasted very long in her role as Peter the Great's wife, and she knew how to handle him, which was very difficult. She had courage, for sure. She just did not have the abilitity to translate the qualities that made her a good consort to Peter the Great into a good Empress. She left the power structure alone, which was good, but she also completely ignored the country, and had lovers and threw parties. Catherine the Great had many lovers, but she always kept in top of her duties to the country. One can't blame Catherine I for having fun after her husband's demise though, and you are right, she had no background that would have made her a good Empress, even though she made a good consort.
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