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Catherine was born on May 2 1729 in Settin Pomerania Her birth name was Sophia Augusta Her father was Christan Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst The family of Anhalt-Zebst was one of the poorest and most obscure of all the German princely families Her father did not become the reining Prince of Zerbst until Catherine was thirteen years old In 1743 when Catherine was fifteen her mother had found her a husband She was to marry Grand Duke Peter of Holstein he was sixteen When Catherine met her husband she thought that he was weak egotistical unbalanced ineffective and entirely Lutheran and German in his attitude Catherine was to convert to Russian Orthodoxy after a year of instruction and education at the Russian court She was married in 1745 and became Grand Duchess Catherine of Russia Catherines life as a Grand Duchess from 1745 to 1762 was very difficult Her and her husband were never on good terms Catherine thought that she would have to make her own way and find her own place at the Russian court She then learned to speak Russian to convince to court of her good will She studied rituals of orthodoxy and was careful to show respect for her new religion While she was doing this she and her husband disagreed more because he made no attempts to learn or to adjust to any of the new traditions or the religion of the court In 1762 Empress Elizabeth of Russia died and Grand Duke Peter ascended the throne as Tsar Peter III He remained Emperor for six months In 1762 Catherine seized power The earlier period of Catherines reign was a time of testing During this period of her reign she had feelings of insecurity ignorance and enlightenment She suffered from insecurity on the throne because she knew little of the administrative mechanisms or the financial conditions of her empire She began to take an active role in government Still
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