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History 120 Section 4 Russell Smith One of the most interesting hard-working and powerful people to grace the pages of history during the eighteenth century was Catherine II Empress of Russia Historians have not always been so kind to her memory and all too often one reads accounts of her private life ignoring her many achievements The stories of her love affairs have been overly misinterpreted and can be traced to a handful of French writers in the years immediately after Catherines death when Republican France was fighting for its life against a coalition that included RussiaCatherine was born Sophia Augusta Frederika of Anhalt-Zerbst on April 21 1729 in Stettin then Germany now Poland Her father Prince Christian Augustus of Anhalt-Zerbst was a high-ranking officer in the Prussian Army and a minor prince among the principalities in Germany He married the much younger Princess Johanna of Holstein-Gottorp Years before Johannas brother Karl August of Holstein-Gottorp had gone to Russia to marry the Princess Elizabeth Petrovna However the Prince died of small pox leaving Elizabeth heart-broken Elizabeths sister Anna gave birth to a son named Peter Ulrich however tragedy once again struck as Annas died of tuberculosis three months after giving birth to Peter Peter who eventually became Tsar Peter III was the only surviving male descendent and the potentially heir to the throne of Russia after his father died In November 1741 Elizabeth seized the throne with the help of the Imperial Guards and formally declared her nephew Peter heir to the throne Peter was now 14 years old and it was time for him to find a bride Elizabeth had always remembered the family of her dead fiance with fondness and chose Sophie as the bride to be The Empress Elizabeth seemed to have taken an instant liking to Sophie at an early age Sophie began to learn the Russian language and studied the Orthodox religion which of course pleased
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