By Robert K. Massie
“[A] story of energy, perseverance and fervour . . . a good tale within the palms of a grasp storyteller.”—The Wall road Journal
The Pulitzer Prize–winning writer of Peter the good, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with one other masterpiece of narrative biography, the intense tale of an imprecise German princess who turned essentially the most amazing, strong, and desirable ladies in background. Born right into a minor noble relations, Catherine remodeled herself into empress of Russia by means of sheer decision. For thirty-four years, the govt., overseas coverage, cultural improvement, and welfare of the Russian humans have been in her fingers. She handled family uprising, international wars, and the tidal wave of political swap and violence churned up through the French Revolution. Catherine’s relations, neighbors, ministers, generals, fans, and enemies—all are right here, vividly dropped at lifestyles. background bargains few tales richer than that of Catherine the nice. during this ebook, an without end attention-grabbing girl is back to life.
“[A] compelling portrait not only of a Russian titan, but additionally of a flesh-and-blood woman.”—Newsweek
“An soaking up, pleasurable biography.”—Los Angeles Times
“Juicy and suspenseful.”—The ny occasions publication Review
“A nice existence, certainly, and irresistibly told.”—Salon
NAMED the best BOOKS OF THE 12 months BY
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Extra resources for Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
Was once Sophia quite ready to put aside her ambition to develop into a queen which will develop into her personal mother’s sister-in-law? For a second, she teetered. might be she may need given in, accepted George Lewis to have his means, and married him. yet prior to whatever ultimate had occurred, a letter arrived from St. Petersburg. 2 Summoned to Russia THE LETTER FROM RUSSIA used to be a shock, yet its message used to be one Johanna have been dreaming of and hoping for. at the same time the formidable mom was once trooping her daughter during the petty courts of north Germany, she have been attaining out to use a extra exalted connection. there has been a relatives historical past concerning Johanna’s relations in the home of Holstein with the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia. In December 1741, while Sophia used to be twelve, Elizabeth, the more youthful daughter of Peter the good, had seized the Russian throne in a hour of darkness coup d’état. the recent empress had numerous powerful ties to the home of Holstein. the 1st was once via Elizabeth’s cherished older sister, Anne, Peter the Great’s eldest daughter, who had married Johanna’s cousin Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein. This marriage had produced the sorrowful little Peter Ulrich; 3 months after her baby used to be born, Anne was once lifeless. Elizabeth had an excellent nearer own bond with the home of Holstein. At seventeen, she were betrothed to Johanna’s older brother, Charles Augustus. In 1726, this Holstein prince had traveled to St. Petersburg to be married, yet a couple of weeks ahead of the marriage, the possible bridegroom had stuck smallpox within the Russian capital and died there. Elizabeth was once left with a grief she by no means completely overcame, and thereafter she appeared the home of Holstein as virtually part of her family. Now, while the inside track arrived that this related Elizabeth had unexpectedly ascended the Russian throne, Johanna instantly wrote to congratulate the hot empress, who, at one time, were approximately to develop into her sister-in-law. Elizabeth’s answer was once amiable and affectionate. the connection endured to prosper. Johanna had in her ownership a portrait of Elizabeth’s useless sister, Anne, which the empress sought after. while Elizabeth wrote to her “dear niece” and requested no matter if the image may be back to Russia, Johanna used to be delighted to do that desire. quickly after, a secretary from the Russian embassy in Berlin arrived in Stettin bringing Johanna a miniature portrait of Elizabeth set in an impressive body of diamonds worthy eighteen thousand rubles. made up our minds to nurture this promising connection, Johanna took her daughter to Berlin, the place the Prussian courtroom painter Antoine Pesne painted a portrait of Sophia to be despatched as a present to the empress. The portrait used to be unremarkable; the themes of such a lot of Pesne’s work wound up on his canvases taking a look nearly exact, and his portrait of Sophia emerged as a ordinary eighteenth-century portrait of a delightful younger lady. however, as soon as the likeness were dispatched to St. Petersburg, the specified reaction got here again: “The empress is charmed by means of the expressive positive factors of the younger princess.