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What nickname did Catherine 2 receive?

In 1767, Catherine II convened the Legislative Commission. The participants devoted the first few meetings to what title to assign to the empress. In 1767, Catherine II convened the Legislative Commission, whose task was to systematize the laws of the country. The first few meetings of the participants were devoted mainly to what title to assign to the empress in gratitude for the initiative to create the commission itself. We settled on the option “Catherine the Great, the Wise and Mother of the Fatherland.” The Empress answered in a note to the chairman of the commission, Alexander Bibikov: “I told them to make laws for the Russian Empire, and they make apologies for my qualities”. As a result, Catherine agreed to accept the title “Mother of the Fatherland.” In fact, he legitimized her reign, because she became empress as a result of a palace coup, overthrowing her husband, Emperor Peter III, and formally had no rights to the throne. But the empress did not want to call herself “Great” and “Wise”. She believed that the significance of her deeds should be determined by her descendants, and only God can be wise. Catherine II gave the official response to the commission on August 12, 1767: In 1767, Catherine II convened the Legislative Commission, whose task was to systematize the laws of the country. The first few meetings of the participants were devoted mainly to what title to assign to the empress in gratitude for the initiative to create the commission itself. We settled on the option “Catherine the Great, the Wise and Mother of the Fatherland.” The Empress answered in a note to the chairman of the commission, Alexander Bibikov: “I told them to make laws for the Russian Empire, and they make apologies for my qualities”. As a result, Catherine agreed to accept the title “Mother of the Fatherland.” In fact, he legitimized her reign, because she became empress as a result of a palace coup, overthrowing her husband, Emperor Peter III, and formally had no rights to the throne. But the empress did not want to call herself “Great” and “Wise”. She believed that the significance of her deeds should be determined by her descendants, and only God can be wise. Catherine II gave the official response to the commission on August 12, 1767: . I answer: 1) to the Great – I leave my affairs to time and posterity to judge impartially; 2) Wise – I cannot call myself such, for only God is wise, and 3) Mother of the Fatherland – I honor the subjects entrusted to me by God as a duty of my title; to be loved by them is my desire. Nevertheless, her subjects and associates still began to call the Empress the Great, and this title went down in history. For example, the French philosopher Voltaire, with whom the empress corresponded, called her “The Great Husband Catherine II,” and the scientist Mikhail Lomonosov dedicated an ode to Catherine – “To the Most Serene Sovereign Great Empress Catherine Alekseevna, Autocrat of All Russia.” The Legislative Commission included 564 deputies, of whom 28 were members of the government, 161 were representatives from the nobles, 208 from the townspeople, 54 from the Cossacks, 79 from the peasants and 34 from non-believers. The latter – Tatars, Bashkirs, Cheremis and others – mostly did not speak Russian, but could choose special “guardians”, translators, to help. Voters were supposed to make their “needs and shortcomings” public with the help of deputies. At the commission meeting, requests and proposals were brought up for discussion, followed by voting. However, the work of the body turned out to be unsystematic and unorganized, and matters often did not come to voting. During the first eight meetings, the commission read a large order, a rite of administration and a resolution on presenting Catherine II with the title. Then, from the 8th to the 15th meeting, the participants considered 12 peasant orders, the next 10 meetings were devoted to laws on the rights of nobles, and this continued until Russia declared war on Turkey in 1768. Many deputies came from the military class, so they went to the front. However, during the war the commission was still considered active. The meetings were simply postponed – first until May 1, then until August 1 and November 1, 1772, and finally until February 1, 1773. It was never officially dissolved, but soon the participants gave up even trying to schedule a new meeting. Did favorites really rule for the empress? And how many were there in total? Is it true that she killed her husband? That she had sex with a horse? Is she a symbol of the Russian Enlightenment or a German spy who wrote with errors? Let’s look at the most common myths about Catherine II In 1772, an anonymous translator into English of Empress Catherine II’s manuscript “Antidote” dedicated his work to “the first and greatest woman of our time.” More than two centuries later, her English biographer and our contemporary Simon Dixon argued that she was “the most famous woman in Europe.” Europe of the 18th century knew other women who found themselves at the pinnacle of power, but none of them ruled such a huge country for so long and so successfully. This aroused surprise and admiration among contemporaries, and also – in the absence of modern media – gave rise to the most ridiculous rumors, conjectures and myths about the empress herself, her politics and personal life. The sources of these rumors and myths were often the stories of those who had the opportunity to communicate directly with the Russian Empress: passed on from mouth to mouth, they acquired new details and in their new version they became completely different from the original one, which, however, could also not be entirely accurate . Everything you need to know about Catherine II, in 8 points
Historian Andrei Zorin talks about the path to power, reforms and favorites of the Empress

Legend 1. Catherine II changed favorites like gloves

Verdict: this is a half truth. Catherine’s personal life, of course, especially attracted all sorts of gossips, and it was around her that the most myths were born, especially since there was fertile ground for this: next to the Russian empress there was always the figure of a male favorite and, according to one of her modern biographers, American historian John Alexander, she was a sex symbol of her time. Meanwhile, historians know the names of twelve favorites, or lovers, of Catherine, with whom she had close relationships from approximately 1753 until her death in 1796, that is, for more than forty years. Some historians add two to five more names to this list, but the information about them is not very reliable. Is it a lot or a little? The answer depends on the views of the person answering. It must be borne in mind, however, that with the first two – Sergei Saltykov and Stanislav Poniatovsky – Catherine was separated against her will, and with some others her relationship continued for many years. So, for example, the favor of Grigory Orlov lasted more than ten years. How many pairs of gloves can you wear out in ten years? Catherine the Empress was a woman surrounded by men, interacting with men, and commanding them, in a very patriarchal country. A worker on the throne, she daily solved many large and small problems on which the fates of millions of people sometimes depended, lived in constant tension and was well aware of the intrigues being weaved in her circle by those who want to influence these decisions. Naturally, she needed support – a person whom she could completely trust, who would be devoted to her and would share her views and interests. This was the political meaning of favoritism: the favorite served as a kind of mediator between the empress and patriarchal society, the very fact of her existence cooling the ardor of those who too zealously fought for influence at court. Catherine the woman was looking for love and, it seems, sincerely fell in love with each of her new chosen ones, but not everyone was worthy of it. So, Dmitriev-Mamonov fell in love with one of her ladies-in-waiting and confessed this to the empress, and Rimsky-Korsakov was too keen on playing cards. She seemed to have found a kindred spirit in Alexander Lansky, but he died after being injured after falling from a horse. Catherine mourned him for a long time. a whole course about love
Love under Catherine the Great
Four lectures by Andrei Zorin on how Catherine II cultivated the feelings of her subjects

Legend 2. Besides, they ruled for her

Verdict: it is not true. Catherine always ruled herself, made all important decisions herself and diligently delved into all issues of public administration. Some historians call Catherine’s co-ruler Grigory Potemkin. Field Marshal General, President of the Military Collegium and Governor of the Ekaterinoslav Governorate, he was the most important statesman of the Catherine era. Indeed, Catherine listened to his opinion, and often he managed to convince her that he was right, as, for example, in the story of the annexation of Crimea to Russia. But the last word, the final decision in all matters always remained with the empress.

Legend 3. Catherine II was so depraved that she even slept with a horse

Verdict: it is not true. This is one of the most widespread and at the same time the most implausible myth about Catherine. The fact that it has nothing to do with reality is evidenced by the fact that, according to this myth, Catherine died precisely during sexual intercourse with a horse, while the real circumstances of her death are well known (see below). Researchers who have tried to understand the origin of this myth associate it with characteristic sexual fantasies generated by the fact that, as already mentioned, Catherine was a kind of sex symbol of her time, as well as with the symbolism of the horse as the personification of strength and masculinity.

Legend 4. Catherine II gave birth to Paul not from Peter III

Verdict: it is not true. Rumors about this already circulated in the 18th century: on the one hand, everyone knew about Catherine’s lovers, on the other, Peter’s manhood was in doubt. And yet there is no serious reason to trust these rumors. As they say, no one held a candle, but Pavel, in his character and in appearance, very much resembled Peter III.

Legend 5. She had other illegitimate children in addition

Verdict: this is partly true. It is reliably known about two children: a daughter who died in infancy and a son, Alexei Grigorievich Bobrinsky, born from a relationship with Orlov. The latter received his surname from the name of the Bobriki estate granted to him and was brought up first in the family of Vasily Shkurin, the former valet of the empress, and then studied abroad with his sons. There is also a version that there was another daughter born from Potemkin, a certain Elizaveta Tiomkina, who was born in 1775, but this is most likely only a legend: Catherine was already 45 years old at that time, and Tiomkina’s mother, most likely, was one of Potemkin’s mistresses. Love Dictionary of Catherine and Potemkin
Mamurka, Grishifushechka and other tender nicknames

Legend 6. At the same time, Catherine II did not love her children, but loved her grandchildren

Verdict: this is a half truth. Politics affected Catherine’s relationships with both her children and grandchildren. At first, after the birth of Pavel, Catherine was almost not allowed to see him, and therefore a natural relationship between mother and son simply could not arise. Later, especially in the first years after she came to power, relations were quite warm, but as Pavel grew older, alienation grew. Catherine saw in her son a rival around whom a conspiracy against her could arise (in 1773 this is what happened: Pavel’s teacher Nikita Panin tried to elevate him to the throne, but Catherine found out about these plans in time and managed to prevent a coup), and perceived him less and less as a successor to his business. In turn, due to unspent energy and unfulfilled ambitions, numerous complexes formed in Pavel and irritation against his mother grew. As for Alexei Bobrinsky, then, again, for political reasons, Catherine did not consider it possible to keep him with her, although she monitored his upbringing and education. Warm relations did not arise, and could not arise here either. But Catherine really loved her grandchildren, Alexander and Konstantin, and cared for them very much, taking their upbringing completely into her own hands – however, perhaps precisely because she hoped to create from them those ideal young men who could not be made from her sons.

Legend 7. Catherine II killed Peter III

Verdict: it is not true. Having come to power as a result of a coup, having no legal rights to the throne and at the same time striving to become a model of an enlightened monarch, Catherine was least interested in sullying herself by killing her own husband. The circumstances of the death of Peter III are not fully known, but most modern historians believe that he was killed on the orders of Panin, Paul’s tutor and one of the organizers of the conspiracy against Peter III. Panin probably believed that it was dangerous to leave the emperor alive, and at the same time hoped to compromise Catherine in this way, so that he could later have influence on her.

Legend 8. Catherine II spoke with an accent and wrote with errors

Verdict: this is a half truth. How strong an accent Catherine had and whether she had one at all, we will never know, since there were no tape recorders, no dictaphones, or even gramophones in her time. And she actually wrote with errors – however, like most people of that time, because firm rules of the Russian language did not yet exist: during the second half of the 18th century they were just being formed.

Legend 9. She was actually a German spy

Verdict: it is not true. Catherine was not a German spy. Her relations with Germany were quite complex, and with foreigners, including Germans, she preferred to talk and correspond not with, but with. Actually, Germany did not yet exist as a single state at that time, and she perceived the Prussian King Frederick as a rival. But most importantly, she tried in every possible way to emphasize her Russianness and over the years became a true Russian patriot, sincerely believing that she managed to make Russia a model for all of Europe.

Legend 10. She was also a Freemason

Verdict: it is not true. In the first years of Catherine’s reign, Freemasonry was so in vogue that almost all the people in the empress’s entourage were Freemasons. She treated this condescendingly and considered Freemasonry to be empty and useless fun. Later, when the Freemasons took up various kinds of spiritual and religious quests, Catherine saw this as an alternative to the official ideology and began to fight Freemasonry. The victim of this struggle was, in particular, the publisher, educator and famous writer of that time Nikolai Novikov.

Legend 11. Catherine II was one of the smartest people in Europe

Verdict: it’s true. It is quite difficult to measure intelligence, but Catherine was certainly an intelligent and insightful person. True, she herself admitted that her mind was not creative, that is, not inclined to produce new original ideas, but capable of assimilating and effectively using the ideas of others. At the same time, she was simultaneously characterized by rationality of thinking and dreaminess characteristic of the Age of Enlightenment, a love, as she herself said, for the construction of “Spanish castles.” What gifts did Catherine II give?
Left glove, steel bed, Zavidovka village and more

Legend 12. Catherine II became a symbol of proto-feminism

Verdict: it is not true. Catherine was not seen trying to influence gender inequality, and, most likely, she did not notice it. Moreover, her role as empress in a patriarchal society constantly required the demonstration of a rather masculine element. It is no coincidence that Catherine’s admirer, Prince de Ligne, called her Catherine the Great. However, in conflict situations that came to her attention, she could well show sympathy for the woman and make a decision in her favor when a male emperor would not have made such a decision. In particular, she was sympathetic to women who complained about their husbands, and when Baron Alexander Stroganov asked for permission to divorce his wife, citing her inappropriate behavior, the Empress replied that it was not in her power.

Legend 13. Moreover, she was a symbol of the Enlightenment (but in fact she enslaved the peasants to the utmost)

Verdict: this is a half truth. Catherine was undoubtedly a symbol of the Enlightenment and did much to ensure that her own intellectual interests and inquiries became widespread in Russian society. We owe to her the appearance of the Hermitage and the first public library, the development of dramatic art and journalism, painting, musical culture, the awakening of interest in Russian history, and so on. As for serfdom, Catherine was an ardent opponent of it and wrote many accusatory words about this. It was in Catherine’s decree that the cruel landowner-serf Daria Saltykova was called “a freak of the human race.” Catherine forbade making serfs graduates of the educational home for orphans she founded, and in her Charter to the nobility of 1785 she passed over the issue of serfdom in silence. But she was unable to either abolish serfdom or stop its development, and therefore, by the end of the XNUMXth century, this social institution reached its apogee: the trade in serfs became widespread, and the exploitation of the labor of serfs by landowners, whose needs were constantly growing, intensified.

Legend 14. Catherine II sold Alaska

Verdict: it is not true. Russia sold Alaska to America in 1867 under Catherine’s great-grandson, Emperor Alexander II. Under Catherine, on the contrary, the development of Russian America took place: the first Russian settlement there was founded in 1772.

Legend 15. Catherine II died sitting on a potty

Verdict: this is a half truth. Catherine suffered, as they said then, a stroke (that is, a stroke) in her dressing room. This word itself comes from the verb “get out” in the sense of “get dressed.” Probably, this same room simultaneously performed the same functions as the restroom in our time. Hence the version that Catherine died sitting on the potty. But even if this was so, she was not sitting on a potty, but on a toilet seat, which, according to legend, was remade from the throne of Polish kings. However, the servants found Catherine lying on the floor, and she died the next day in her own bed, where she was transferred.

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