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The empress of Russia, Catherine II, was known as Catherine the Great. She was born on April 21, 1729, in what was then known as Stettin, Prussia. She was famous for having continued the legacy of her husband, Peter III, who was overthrown by none other than herself.
See the fact file below for more information on the Catherine the Great or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Catherine the Great worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Catherine’s birth name was Sophie Friederike Auguste.
- Catherine the Great, or simply Catherine II, was known for being the longest-reigning female leader in Russian history.
- She reigned over the Russian empire for 34 years.
- Catherine II married into the Russian royal family in 1745.
- In 1762, not long after Peter III, her spouse, was hailed king, Catherine II organized a coup or a plan to overthrow him and become empress of Russia.
- In her three-decade-long reign, Catherine II became known for expanding Russian territories and helped in modernizing Russian culture through progressive means of arts and education.
LIFE AS A PRINCESS
- Catherine II was only known as a minor German princess before. Her birth name was Sophie Friederike Auguste.
- Catherine II grew up in Stettin, located in a small principality called Anhalt-Zebst.
- Catherine II’s father was a prince named Christian August, who was known for ruling the tiny dominion of Anhalt-Zerbst.
- He became popular for his military career, serving as a general for Frederick William I of Prussia.
- Catherine II’s mother was Princess Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein Gottorp.
- Her mother took little interest in her, and spent more time on her younger brother, Wilhelm Christian.
- Catherine was left to be mothered by Babette, her governess.
- Wilhelm Christian died at age 12, so no heir was left to the family. As a result, Johanna used her daughter to maintain and improve their power.
- Johanna took Catherine to visit other royal courts to seek out possible suitors.
- Catherine did not refute her mother’s tactics, but rather saw marriage as a way to escape her.
- Catherine learned three languages as she was taught by the military chaplain: German, French, and Russian.
LIFE WITH THE RUSSIAN ROYAL FAMILY
- Catherine and Johanna traveled to Russia in 1744.
- In Russia, they met with Elizabeth to see if Catherine was suitable for her son, Peter.
- Catherine became ill, and her situation sparked conflict between Johanna and Elizabeth. Luckily, she recovered.
- Catherine formed a relationship with Grand Duke Peter.
- She converted to the Russian Orthodox faith, even though her father did not agree because of his deeply Lutheran beliefs.
- Upon converting, she received a new name, which was Yekaterina, or Catherine.
- Catherine II married Grand Duke Peter on August 21, 1745.
- Catherine II and Grand Duke Peter were a happy couple.
- However, Peter seemed to be immature and childish, spending time with his mistresses instead of his wife.
- Because of this, Catherine developed a pastime for reading.
- Peter and Catherine’s son, Paul, was born on September 20, 1755.
- However, scholars debate whether Paul was actually Peter’s child.
- Some claim that Paul’s father was in fact Sergei Saltykov.
- Sergei Saltykov was a Russian noble and member of the court.
- Other scholars pointed out Paul’s resemblance to Peter as proof of paternity.
- Paul was taken and raised by Elizabeth shortly after he was born.
- Later, Catherine had three more children.
LIFE AS AN EMPRESS
- On 25 December 25, 1761, Peter III ascended to the throne.
- Following the death of Elizabeth of Russia on January 5, 1762, Catherine, as Peter III’s wife, became an empress consort.
- They moved into the new Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.
- When the Seven Years War took place between Russia and Prussia from 1756 to 1763, Peter III became supportive of Frederick II.
- Peter III even planned war against Denmark, Russia’s traditional ally against Sweden.
- Catherine then organized a coup in order to overthrow Peter III.
- She departed from the palace, into the Izmailovsky regiment, and delivered a speech asking the soldiers to protect her from Peter III.
- After this, Catherine went to the Semenovskt Barracks where she was ordained as occupant of the Russian throne.
- Catherine was officially crowned at the Assumption Cathedral in Moscow on September 22, 1762.
- During her reign, Catherine II extended the Russian Empire by 520,000 square kilometers.
- Catherine II is believed to have suffered a stroke one night in mid-November 1796.
- She was found unconscious on the bathroom floor.
- She never regained consciousness and officially died on November 17, 1796.
Catherine the Great Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Catherine the Great across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Catherine the Great worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the empress of Russia, Catherine II, who was known as Catherine the Great. She was born on April 21, 1729, in what was then known as Stettin, Prussia. She was famous for having continued the legacy of her husband, Peter III, who was overthrown by none other than herself.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Catherine the Great Facts
- Longest-Reigning Empress
- Catherine’s Lifetime
- Princess vs. Empress
- Important People
- Seven Years War
- Quotes from Catherine
- Cartoon Narrative
- Glossary of Terms
- Cause and Effect
- Letter to Catherine
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Use With Any Curriculum
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