Laura's Reviews > Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
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Sep 01, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: history, 3ms, russia, memoir-biography, non-fiction, mtbr-challenge-2014, romanovs, read-2014, american-fiction
Read from November 23 to 28, 2014

his the biography of Catherine the Great written by Robert K. Massie.

In reality, her birthday’s name was Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg.

Her father, Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst was a German prince of the House of Ascania. He was a ruler of the Principality of Anhalt-Dornburg.



Her mother, Joanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp was a princess of the House of Holstein-Gottorp and later the Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst.



By being born in Stettin - a small principality called Anhalt-Zebst, she started out as a German princess.

Since Sophia was not the favorite child of her parents, she saw marriage as a way to escape from her faith.

The Russian came up in Sophia’s life one he mother accepted an invitation to St. Petersburg from the Empress Elizabeth who was looking for a suitable wife for her heir, Grand Duke Peter, later called as Petter II.



Catherine was persecuted by Empress Elizabeth for several years since she wanted an heir for the Russian throne quite soon. On the other hand, Catherine’s marriage’s was not an easy task since her husband suffered from phimosis.

Catherine became Catherine II after a Coup d’etat and the assassination of her husband at the end of the Seven Years’ War.




By consequence, Catherine had several lovers along her life, such as: Sergei Saltykov , the supposed Paul’s father; Stanislaus Poniatowski; Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov; Alexander Vasilchikov; Grigory Potemkin and others.

Catherine reign was called Russia’s golden age. The Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility freed the Russian nobility from compulsory military service.

Under Voltaire’s influence, she was in charge of the Russian Enlightenment: she founded the Hermitage Museum as well as the National Library of Russia.

She lived in the magnificent and beautiful Tsarskoye Selo was the summer residence of the Russian Tsars.



When Catherine died, her successor and son Paul I became the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801.

Catherine was buried at Peter and Paul Cathedral for 34 years.

A movie was made based on Catherine’s life: Catherine the Great (1996) with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul McGann, Ian Richardson.



Russian Channel One is preparing a lavishly epic historical series CATHERINE THE GREAT with Yulia Snigir playing the legendary Russian tzarina.






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katy One of my favorites!


Laura A reading long awaited.


Laura thanks Marita, Shelby and Sandi


message 4: by Laura (last edited Nov 30, 2014 06:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura thanks Sera and Diane


Laura thanks Chris


message 6: by Laura (last edited Nov 30, 2014 12:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura thanks Wanda, Diane Lyyn. Broken, Tania, Orsolya, Eve


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Laura thanks Mark and Cheryl


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