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Ekaterina II — biography

Ekaterina II

Ekaterina II Great Alekseyevna (this article is in Russian — Екатерина II) (1729-1796) — Russian Empress (from 1762). German princess Sophia Frederic August of Anhalt-Zerbst. From 1744 — in Russia[ru]. Since 1745 the wife of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich, the future Emperor Peter III, who was dethroned (1762), relying on the Guard (GG and AG Orlov et al.). From the Romanov dynasty.  Zodiac — Taurus.

Ekaterina II reorganized the Senate (1763), the secularization of land (1763-64) abolished the hetman in Ukraine[ru] (1764). Headed by the Legislative Commission 1767-69. When Ekaterina II took the Peasants' War 1773-75. Issued an institution to manage the province in 1775, Charter to the Nobility in 1785 and 1785. Letters Patent cities under Ekaterina II as a result of Russian-Turkish war of 1768-74, 1787-91 Russia permanently entrenched in the Black Cape, were joined North. Black Sea, Crimea, Kuban. Adopted by the Russian citizenship Eastern Georgia (1783).

During the reign of Ekaterina II made partition of Poland (1772, 1793, 1795). Corresponded with Voltaire and other leaders of the French Enlightenment. Ekaterina II — the author of many fictional, dramatic, journalistic, scientific and popular works, "Notes".

"Catherine by her mother belonged to the holsteingottorp princely family, one of the numerous princely families of Northern Germany, and by her father to another local and even smaller sovereign family — the anhaltzerbst. Catherine's father, Christian Augustus of the zerbstdornburg line of the house of Anhalt, like many of his neighbors, small North German princes, was in the service of the Prussian king, was a regimental commander, commandant, and then Governor of the city of Stettin, unsuccessfully ran for the Dukes of Courland and ended his extraterritorial service as a Prussian field Marshal, elevated to this rank by the patronage of the Russian Empress Elizabeth. In Stettin and was born[ru] have him (21 April 1729 on UF. UF.) daughter Sofia-August, our Catherine. Thus, this Princess United in her person two small princely houses of North-West Germany. This North-West Germany represented in the eighteenth century a curious corner of Europe in many respects. Here medieval German feudalism was then wearing itself out, its last dynastic[ru] regalia and genealogical traditions." Vasily Osipovich Klyuchevsky. Russian history. Full course of lectures in 3 books. kN.3. - Moscow: Thought, 1993, p. 198.

Origin, education and training

Ekaterina II Alexeevna (born Sophia Augusta Frederica, Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst) [April 21 (May 2, New Style), 1729, Stettin — November 6, (November 17 New Style), 1796, St. Petersburg], Empress of Russia (since 1762-1796).

Ekaterina, the daughter finds on the Prussian service of Prince Christian Augustus of Anhalt-Zerbst and Princess Johanna-Elizabeth (nee Princess of Holstein-Gottorp), was related to the royal houses of Sweden, Prussia and England. She was educated at home: she studied German and French languages, dance, music, the basics of history, geography, theology. Already in childhood manifested the independent character[ru] of Ekaterina, curiosity, persistence, and at the same propensity to live, mobile games.

In 1744 Ekaterina with her mother was summoned to the Russian Empress Elizabeth, was baptized in the Orthodox tradition under the name of Ekaterina I and baptized the bride of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich (the future Emperor Peter III), which got married in 1745.

Life in Russia before the accession to the throne

Ekaterina II set itself the goal to win the favor of the Empress, her husband and the Russian people. However, her personal life was unsuccessful: Peter was infantile, so during the first years of marriage between them there was no marriage. After paying tribute to gay life of the court, Ekaterina turned to the reading of the French Enlightenment and the writings on the history, law and economics. These books shaped her worldview. Ekaterina became a consistent supporter of the Enlightenment. She is also interested in the history, traditions and customs of Russia.

At the beginning of the 1750s. Ekaterina II began an affair with a Guards officer SV Saltykov, and in 1754 gave birth to a son, the future Emperor Paul I, but rumors that Saltykov was the father of Paul, not baseless. In the second half of the 1750s. Ekaterina had an affair with a Polish diplomat S. Poniatowski (later King Stanislaw August), and in the early 1760s. with Grigory Orlov, from whom she gave birth in 1762 his son Alexis, received the surname Bobrinsky. The deterioration of relations with her husband led to the fact that she began to fear for his fate if he came power and began to recruit supporters at court. Ostentatious piety Ekaterina, her prudence, a sincere love for Russia - all this is in sharp contrast with the behavior of Peter and allowed her to gain prestige among the fashionable society of the capital, and in the whole population of St. Petersburg.

Accession to the throne

Within six months of the reign of Peter III Ekaterina's relationship with her husband (who appeared openly in society mistress ER Vorontsova) continued to deteriorate, becoming visibly hostile. There was a threat of arrest and possible expulsion. Ekaterina carefully prepared conspiracy, with the support of the Orlov brothers, N. Panin, K. Razumovsky, E. Dashkova and others. On the night of June 28, 1762, when the emperor was in Oranienbaum, Kateryna secretly arrived in Petersburg and barracks Izmailovo Regiment was proclaimed Empress of autocratic. Soon the rebels joined by soldiers of other regiments.

The news of his accession to the throne of Ekaterina quickly spread around the city and was enthusiastically greeted by Petersburg. In order to prevent actions were deposed Emperor sent a messenger in the army and in Kronstadt. Meanwhile Peter, knowing what had happened, began to send to Ekaterina negotiation proposals that were rejected. The Empress led the Guards regiments made to St. Petersburg and on the road received a written renunciation of the throne of Peter.

July 9, 1762 Ekaterina II came to power in a palace coup.

"The arrest Passek roused all the conspirators, fearing that the person arrested may issue them under torture. At night, it was decided to send Alexey Orlov for Ekaterina, who lived in Peterhof name-day in anticipation of the Emperor (June 29). Early in the morning of June 28 Alexei Orlov ran into the bedroom to Ekaterina and said that Passek arrested. Somehow dressed, the Empress sat in the carriage with the maid of honor Orlova, seated on the box and was brought directly into the Izmailovo Regiment. It has long been prepared for drumbeat soldiers rushed to the area and immediately swore, kissing hands, feet, dress empress. And he was a Colonel Earl K. Razumovsky. Then, in the preceding is sworn priest with a cross in his hand moved to the Semenov regiment, where he repeated the same thing.

At the head of the two regiments, accompanied by a crowd of people, Ekaterina went to Kazan Cathedral, where prayer her exclamations autocratic empress. From there it went to the newly-rebuilt the Winter Palace and found there already assembled Senate and Synod, which implicitly joined her and swore. The movement was joined Konnogvardeytsy Preobrazhentsi and some army units and including more than 14,000 surrounded the palace, enthusiastically welcoming bypassing shelves Ekaterina; crowds echoed the troops. "Vasily Klyuchevsky. Russian history. Full course of lectures in 3 books. Kn.3. - M .: Thought, 1993, s.189-190.

The nature and form of government of Ekaterina 2

Ekaterina II was a subtle psychologist and a great connoisseur of people, she could always find myself assistants, without fear of bright and talented people. That is why Ekaterina's time marked by the appearance of an entire galaxy of outstanding statesmen, generals, writers, artists and musicians. In dealing with the subjects of Ekaterina II was usually reserved, patient, tactful. She was a wonderful conversationalist, was able to listen carefully to each. By her own admission, she did not have a creative mind, but can easily pick up any sensible thoughts and use it for their own purposes.

For all the reign of Ekaterina II, there was virtually no noisy resignations, none of the nobles was not subjected to disgrace, was exiled and not especially executed. Therefore, had the idea of Ekaterina's reign as the "golden age" of the Russian nobility. However, Ekaterina was very vain and more than anything in the world cares about its power. For the sake of its preservation it is ready to make any compromises to the detriment of their convictions.

March 5, 1764 the Empress signed a decree on the confiscation of Church property, in subsequent years, such events will be called secularization. Text: "our great-Grandfather, blessed and everlasting memory of the Tsar and Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich, in 1649, establishing justice in the subject of his people, saw the number of spiritual estates, not on the intention of the givers consumed, began to think about the order of these and appeal to the real Affairs of the Church of Christ; but his successor, our universal grandfather Emperor Peter the Great from the first years of his reign, the same thing produced. This high talents of the Emperor in 1701 of January 31 of the day started to draw decree all the estate, real estate in spiritual deeds on the true benefit of the soul-saving W for which the pious bearers were awarded the Church of God in our Empire...".

May 5, 1764, was founded the Smolny Institute for noble maidens. A special decree of Catherine II in St. Petersburg was established the "Educational society for noble maidens", which later became known as the "Smolny Institute for noble maidens". The purpose of this educational institution, as stated in the decree, "...to give the nation[ru] educated women, good mothers, healthy family members and society."

On November 4 1764 (15 November on a new style), when Catherine II approved the Charter and" Privileges " of the Academy, the Imperial Academy of arts was established.

On December 29, 1768, Catherine II signed a decree on the introduction of paper currency in Russia. From January 1 of the following year, they were put into circulation in exchange for some copper coins. People met the novelty with great distrust: how it is to give the goods for paper! The highest rating of Catherine, as they would say now, helped: her portrait on the largest one-hundred-dollar bill, immediately nicknamed "Katerinka", caused due respect. Up to the First world war[ru], that is one and a half hundred years, in Russia the gold equivalent was observed — the volume of issued paper money never exceeded the total value of the country's gold reserves. Therefore, the Russian exchange was solid and enjoyed a high reputation throughout the world.

On March 26, 1787, Catherine II, while in Kiev, ordered a medal to be minted in honor of her visit to the South of Russia.

March 27, 1793 Catherine II issued a Manifesto on the inclusion of right-Bank Ukraine in the Russian Empire.

Attitude to religion and the peasant question

Ekaterina II differed ostentatious piety, considered himself the head and defender of the Russian Orthodox Church and skillfully used religion for their political interests. Vera it apparently was not too deep. In the spirit of the time she preached tolerance. When it was discontinued persecution of Old Believers, Catholic and Protestant built churches, mosques, but still the transition from orthodoxy to another religion severely punished.

Ekaterina II was a staunch opponent of serfdom, considering it inhuman and disgusting human nature. In her papers survived many harsh statements on this issue, as well as the arguments of the various options the elimination of serfdom. However, to do something concrete in this area it was not solved due to well-founded fear of noble rebellion and another coup. However, Ekaterina was convinced of the spiritual backwardness of Russian peasants and therefore in danger of giving them freedom, considering that the life of the peasants in caring landlords quite well.

Domestic policy

Ekaterina II came to the throne, having a well-defined political program based on the one hand, on the ideas of the Enlightenment and, on the other hand, takes into account the peculiarities of the historical development of Russia. The main principles of this program have been gradual, progressive, records of public sentiment. In the early years of his reign, Ekaterina II to implement reforms of the Senate (1763), do the work of the institutions more effective; held secularization of church lands (1764), significantly replenish state coffers and alleviate the plight of a million peasants; eliminated hetman in Ukraine, which corresponded to its ideas about the need to unify the management of the whole territory of the empire; invited to Russia for the development of the German colonists of the Volga and Black Sea.

During these years, was founded by a number of new schools, including Russia's first educational institution for women (the Smolny Institute, the Ekaterina School). In 1767 Ekaterina II announced the convocation of the Commission to compose a new Code, consisting of elected deputies from all social groups in Russian society, with the exception of the serfs. Ekaterina wrote to the Commission "Instructions", is essentially a liberal program of her reign. Ekaterina II calls were not, however, understood the deputies of the Commission, which led debate on minor issues. During their discussions revealed deep divisions between social groups, the low level of political culture and frank conservatism of the majority of members of the Commission. At the end of 1768 the Legislative Commission was dissolved. Ekaterina herself appreciated the Commission's experience as an important lesson to introduce her to the mood of the different layers of the population.

After the end of the Russian-Turkish War of 1768-74 and the uprising led by Yemelyan Pugachev entered a new stage of Ekaterina's reforms, when the Empress herself has developed the most important legislative acts. In 1775 was published a manifesto, allows you to free establishment of any industry. In the same year was made provincial reform, which introduced a new administrative-territorial division of the country, survived until the October Revolution of 1917.

On June 26, 1765, Catherine II signed a decree on the creation of a Free economic society designed to encourage agriculture and housebuilding in Russia.
The idea belonged to Mikhail Lomonosov[ru], who had already died by that time, who dreamed of introducing the best foreign samples into the domestic economy. Catherine allocated 6 thousand rubles to the new society and put her state Secretary, Adam olsufiev, at its head. The coat of arms of the free economists was a beehive with flocking bees, next to which was placed the inscription "Useful".

On January 4, 1772, 158 paintings were delivered to the Hermitage, bought at the direction of Catherine II in Paris and served as the basis for the famous art gallery. With the assistance of the French educator Diderot[ru] Queen acquired a collection of Pierre Crozat (one of the most famous then in the artistic circles of Paris), which was the work of Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, Rubens, van Dyck, Poussin, Watteau, Chardin and other outstanding artists, as well as seven paintings by Rembrandt, including "Danae" and "Holy family". This action, which made a lot of noise in Europe, Catherine II laid the tradition of collecting, which became a state policy in the XIX century.

July 10, 1775, the anniversary of the conclusion of Kuchuk-Kainarji peace Treaty that ended the Russo-Turkish war of 1768-1774 by the decree of Empress, was established the medal "In memory of the war with the Turks in 1774".

August 14, 1775 Manifesto of the Empress was eliminated Zaporizhzhya Sich.

In the 1780s. continued and education reform: a network of urban school facilities based on class-task system. In his later years, Ekaterina II continued to develop plans for major reforms. 1797 was scheduled on a radical reform of the central administration, the introduction of legislation on the order of succession to the throne, the establishment of the highest court, based on an elected representative of the three estates. However, to complete its program of reforms Ekaterina did not have time. In general, Ekaterina's reforms were a direct continuation of the reforms of Peter I[ru].

In 1785 Ekaterina II issued his most important legislative acts - Charter to the Nobility and cities. Has been prepared as a third charter - state peasants, but the political circumstances did not allow it to enter into force. The basic meaning of literacy was associated with the implementation of the most important goals of Ekaterina's reforms - the creation of a full-fledged Russian estates of Western European type. For the Russian nobility charter means the legal consolidation of almost all available in his rights and privileges.

May 7, 1780 Catherine II officially granted the coat of arms to St. Petersburg.

On December 30, 1782 (December 19, according to the art.) Empress Catherine II signed a Decree on the formation of the Tobolsk vicegerency, which included the Kurgan district. Kurgan Sloboda received the status of the city with the name of Kurgan. The first mayor of the Mound was Ivan Petrovich Rosing.

On June 7, 1794 (may 27 by the art.) came the rescript of the Empress Catherine the great, which laid the Foundation and the organization of the glorious city of Odessa: "Respecting the advantageous position of hadzhibey at the Black sea and the benefits associated with it, we recognized it necessary to arrange a military Harbor kupno with the merchant's pier...". But the immediate executor of the will of the Empress for the construction of the new town and port were the Vice-Admiral of the Russian fleet Joseph Mikhailovich de Ribas, the man most interesting and in many ways mysterious fate.

2 Sep 1794 (22 August Church calendar) on the site of the Turkish fortress hacibey was founded the city of Odessa. There is a legend that at the Royal ball, in the presence of Catherine II came the conversation about the new black sea port and the fortress Hadzhibey, recently conquered from the Turks. Some of the courtiers, knowing the love[en] the Queen to name conquered cities Greek names proposed to rename Khadjibey and was reminded of the ancient Greek colony Odessos. And then Catherine allegedly commanded: "Let Hajibey is the Hellenic name, but in the feminine." Later it became clear that the Greek settlement with the same name was located on the site of the current Bulgarian port of Varna. Nobody began to rename the city...

On may 27, 1795, Empress Catherine II founded the Imperial public library, now the Russian national library.

On January 14 (January 2, old style), 1814, the Grand opening of the Imperial Public library was held. The initiative belonged to the Empress.

Charter to the Gentry April 21, 1785

Charter to the Nobility, April 21, 1785 Catherine IICharter to the Gentry. The document, adopted April 21, 1785, brings together all the privileges of the nobility, given to him before his time and secured a dominant position in politics and economy. For the first time granted the right to organize meetings in noble governorship, provinces and districts. The main purpose of their work was securing and defending the privileges of the nobility at the local level, the solution of disputes. For the first time granted the right to organize meetings in noble governorship, provinces and districts. The main purpose of their work was securing and defending the privileges of the nobility at the local level, the solution of disputes, and so on. N. Election of a member of the governing structures of the Noble Assembly was limited to elected age (not younger than 25 years) and the state (income from villages could not be lower 100 rub.).

Foreign policy

Following Peter I Ekaterina believed that Russia should play an active role on the world stage, to conduct offensive (and to some extent aggressive) policy.

Ascended the throne, she tore Peter III concluded a treaty of alliance with Prussia. Thanks to her efforts, was restored to the throne of the Duke of Courland EI Biron. In 1763, with the support of Prussia, Russia has made the election of his protg Stanislaw August Poniatowski on the Polish throne. This led to a cooling of relations with Austria, which, fearing the excessive strengthening of Russia, Turkey began to incite war with the Russian Empire. Russian-Turkish War of 1768-74 was largely successful for Russia, but a complex political situation encouraged Russia to seek peace, for which it was necessary to restore relations with Austria. As a result, a compromise was reached, which fell victim to Poland: in 1772 Russia, Prussia and Austria carried out the first section of part of its territory.

Since Turkey was signed Kucuk Kainarji world that provide favorable for Russia independence of Crimea. In the war between Britain and its North American colonies of Russia officially took a neutral position and Ekaterina II, King of England refused to help British[ru] troops. At the initiative of NIPanin Russia issued a declaration of armed neutrality, joined by a number of European states, which objectively contributed to the victory of the colonists. In the following years the strengthening of Russian positions in the Crimea and the Caucasus, completed in 1782 by including the Crimea into the Russian Empire in 1783 and the signing of the Treaty of St. George with Kartli-Kakheti King Irakli II, to ensure the presence of Russian troops in Georgia, and subsequently its accession to Russia.

In the second half of the 1770s. formed a new foreign policy doctrine of the Russian government - Greek project. Its main aim was to restore the Greek (Byzantine) Empire, with its capital in Constantinople and Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, grandson of Ekaterina II, as emperor. In 1779, Russia has significantly strengthened its international prestige by participating as an intermediary between Austria and Prussia in Teschen Congress. In 1787, Ekaterina, followed by the court, foreign diplomats, the Austrian Emperor and King of Poland traveled to the Crimea, which became a gigantic demonstration of Russian military power.

Shortly thereafter, a new war with Turkey, and Russia acted in alliance with Austria. Almost simultaneously, the war with Sweden (1788-90), is trying to achieve revenge for the defeat in the Great Northern War. However, Russia has successfully coped with the two opponents. The war with Turkey ended in 1791. In 1792 was signed by Jassy world, which recognized the influence of Russia in Bessarabia and the Caucasus, as well as the incorporation of the Crimea.

In 1793 and 1795 took place the second and third sections of Poland, finally put an end to the Polish state. The events in revolutionary France Ekaterina II initially treated with a certain amount of sympathy, seeing them as a result of unreasonable oppressive policies of the French kings. However, after the execution of Louis XVI, she saw the revolution in danger for the whole of Europe.

May 7 1780 Catherine II officially granted the coat of arms of St. Petersburg.

April 19 1783 (April 8 by the Julian calendar) Empress Catherine the great signed a Manifesto on the accession to the Russian power of the Crimean Peninsula and the formation of the Tauride region under the direction of Prince GA Potemkin. This event was preceded by numerous Russian-Turkish wars, during which Russia defeated Turkey, in which the Crimean Peninsula was at the end of the XV century.

20 APR 1788 Catherine II issued a decree on the abolition of the custom of the whip whip of the offender, placing the unfortunate on the back of the so-called "assistant". It was such an old tradition; at the execution of the whip to snatch from the curious crowd who were pressing on the scaffold, some guy healthier and use it as a live "goat". In other types of sentences "assistants" executioner could become his disciples, garrison soldiers or lower ranking police officers.

October 4, 1788 Catherine II approved the official coat of arms of Vyborg: "the Shield is divided into two parts: the upper one in the red box three gold crowns, the lower one in the blue box gold letter W; over the shield two angels."

January 22, 1784 was issued a decree on the basis of the second Ekaterinoslav on the Dnieper river, which according to the original plan was to become "the Third capital of the Russian Empire." Officially, the city was founded during the visit of Catherine II, who on may 20 (may 9, 1787) laid the first stone in the construction of the Transfiguration Cathedral (this date was considered the founding date of the city in the Russian Empire — in 1887 was marked by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the city).

On may 27, 1794, the Empress issued a rescript on the Foundation of a new city and port in Khadjibey and approved the first General plan of the city of Odessa.

Personal life

Time of Ekaterina II - is flourishing favoritism, characteristic of European life the second half of the 18th century. Parted in the early 1770s. with Grigory Orlov, in subsequent years, the Empress has replaced a number of favorites. To participate in the political issues are usually not allowed. Only two of her famous lovers - Grigory Potemkin and PV Zavadovsky - have become major public figures. With his minions Ekaterina II lived for several years, but then parted for a variety of reasons (because of the death favorite, his treachery or misconduct), but none of them has been subjected to disgrace. They were generously rewarded with ranks, titles, money and serfs.

Throughout his life, Ekaterina II was looking for a man who would be worthy of her, would share her enthusiasm, views, and so on. D. But to find a man to her, apparently, did not succeed. However, there is speculation that she was secretly married to Potemkin, which maintained a friendly relationship until his death. All sorts of rumors about orgies at the court of Ekaterina the propensity to nymphomania and so on. N. - No more than unfounded myth. (Alexander Kamensky)

January 11, 1783 Catherine II ordered the Admiralty Board: "To Command intravascular Fleet our (this year is considered the date of the Black Sea Fleet of birth) on the Black and Azov Seas ordain send our Vice Admiral Klokachёva, which for the adoption of required instructions appear in our Novorossiysk and Azov governor-General Prince Potemkin. On his journey, Klokachev, graciously bestowed us 2,000 rubles, but beyond that as long as there is at the command of the fleet, until the appointment to the admiral, to make it on the table for 200 rubles per month. We will not fail to appoint and other champions in his team. Admiralty Board is meant to at the request of his vice-admiral give him every benefit best from it."

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