In honor of Notorious Royal Marriages week at the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table - I selected the marriage of Catherine the Great and Peter III of Russia to highlight here.
As was common practice for the majority of royal marriages, the union of Catherine and Peter was an arranged marriage for political purposes. Peter was the heir to the Russian throne and because she would one day be queen, Catherine had to face a great many tests before she was ultimately chosen for his wife. Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Catherine and Peter married. But newlywed life would not be blissful – Peter was constantly ill and he enjoyed playing games like a boy half his age. It was only though the encouragement of other members of the court that their marriage was consummated. They would have one son, Paul, who would one day rule Russia.
In 1762, Peter became Emperor of Russia. Due to political failings and his immature attitude – Peter was deposed and killed within 6 months of taking the throne. This left Catherine husbandless and in complete control of Russia.
Catherine had taken on a string of lovers, even during her marriage to Peter, but would not marry again. Her most notable lovers were Sergei Saltykov Grigory Potemkin, Stanislaw Poniatowski, and Grigory Orlov. Catherine treated her lovers very well, rewarding them with lands, money, and titles during and after their affair ended. Catherine had a son with Orlov, named Aleksey Bobrinsky, and a daughter with Poniatowski, named Anna Petrovna. Catherine secretly claimed that Paul was the son of Saltykov, but he so much resembled Peter that it is most likely untrue.
Catherine died in 1796 at the age of 67 from a stroke. The crown would pass on to her son, Paul.
Catherine is another one of those women whose husband really wasn’t interested in playing the role of a husband. But she lucked out and got the upper hand after his death – ruling Russia without a husband and taking on a string of lovers – how much better could it get after what she had in her marriage!
Be sure to stop by the other Round Table events today:
Interview with Leslie Carroll at The Burton Review
Book Review at Historical-Fiction.com
Guest Post by Leslie Carroll at All Things Royal
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