Catherine II the Great: From Diplomatic Marriage to Powerful Ruler

Catherine II the Great: From Diplomatic Marriage to Powerful Ruler

Catherine II the Great, born as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt Zerbst, was a German princess who married Peter III of Russia as a

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Slide1Catherine II (the Great)

Slide2Background info• Born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst • Married Peter III as a diplomatic mission (cement relation b/w Russia and Prussia) • Ruled 1761-96 •  

Slide3From Peter I to Catherine II• Peter I (the Great) • Catherine I (2 nd  wife of Peter I) • Peter II (son of Peter and Catherine) • Anna (daughter of Peter I’s half brother Ivan V) • Ivan VI (Adopted son of Anna- less than one yr old, overthrown by Elisabeth) • Elisabeth (2 nd  oldest daughter of Peter and Catherine) • Peter III (son of Anna) marries Catherine • Catherine allegedly murders Peter III to take the throne

Slide4The “bloodless” coup• When Peter traveled to Prussia, Catherine, with the help of the palace guard, overthrew him. • Three days later, Peter dies, and many accuse Catherine, who also murdered two other claimants to the throne.

Slide5Russo-Turkish War• Catherine made Russia the dominant power in south-eastern Europe after her first Russo-Turkish War against the Ottoman Empire. • The Russian victories allowed Catherine's government to obtain access to the Black Sea and to incorporate the vast steppes of present-day southern Ukraine.

Slide62nd  Russo-Turkish War • Catherine annexed the Crimea in 1783, a mere nine years after the Crimean Khanate had gained independence from the Ottoman Empire as a result of her first war against the Turks. The Ottomans started a second Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792) during Catherine's reign. This war proved catastrophic for the Ottomans and ended with the Treaty of Jassy (1792), which legitimized the Russian claim to Crimea.

Slide7The Partitions of Poland• In 1764 Catherine placed Stanisław Poniatowski, her former lover, on the Polish throne. Although the idea of partitioning Poland came from the Prussian king Frederick the Great, Catherine took a leading role in carrying this out in the 1790s. In 1768 she became formally protectress of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which provoked an anti-Russian uprising in Poland • After smashing the uprising she established in the Rzeczpospolita  a system of government fully controlled by the Russian Empire through a Permanent Council under the supervision of her ambassadors and envoys.

Slide9Relations with Europe• From 1788 to 1790, Russia fought the Russo- Swedish War against Sweden, instigated by Catherine's cousin, the King Gustav III of Sweden. Expecting to simply overtake the Russian armies still engaged in war against the Ottoman Turks and hoping to strike Saint Petersburg directly, the Swedes ultimately faced mounting human and territorial losses when opposed by Russia's Baltic Fleet. After Denmark declared war on Sweden in 1788, things looked bleak for the Swedes.

Slide10Relations with…Japan?• In the Far East, Russians became active in fur-trapping in Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands. However, Russian settlements suffered from lack of supplies and constrained by the need to import goods over long distances across Siberia from Europe. This spurred interest in opening trade with Japan to the south for supplies and food. • In 1792, the Russian government dispatched a trade- mission Japan. The Tokugawa government received the mission, but negotiations failed and formal trade relations between the two countries did not come about until 1858.

Slide11Art & Culture• Called herself a “philosopher on throne” • Embraced the Enlightenment • Expanded the arts • Wrote a manual for educating young children • Invited many scientists to Russia • Allowed Diderot to finish his  Encyclopedia  in Russia

Slide12Her private life• Stanislaw Poniatowski- former lover placed on throne of Poland and then partition into oblivion • Grigori Orlov- helped Catherine take the throne, thought he was going to marry her, but instead remained her servant • Grigory Potemkin- helped with Catherine’s coup- used for military matters- some thought he had the power- convinced her to take the Crimean