1729 (2nd May)
Catherine the Great was born Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste of Anhalt-Zerbst in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia (Szczecin, Poland) to Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst and Princess Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp.
Sophie was educated by a French governess and private tutors.
Sophie met Karl Peter Ulrich, son of Charles, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp and Anna Petrovna of Russia. Karl Peter, known as Peter, was heir to the Russian Empire. Catherine disliked him instantly.
Elizabeth, Empress of Russia
and Frederick II of Prussia wanted to negotiate an alliance to be sealed with the marriage of Sophie to Peter of Holstein-Gottorp. However, Sophie’s mother was not in favour of the match but was keen for her daughter to become Empress of Russia.
Sophie was sent to Russia and made a good impression on Empress Elizabeth. She also began learning Russian.
Sophie was taken ill with pneumonia.
1744 (28th June)
Sophie converted to Russian Orthodoxy. Her name was changed to Catherine (Ekaterina).
1744 (29th June)
Catherine was formally betrothed to heir to the Russian Empire, Peter of Holstein-Gottorp.
1745 (21st August)
Catherine married Peter of Holstein-Gottorp in St Petersburg, Russia. They made their home in the palace of Oranienbaum.
1745 (after 21st August)
The marriage of Catherine and Peter was not happy and both took lovers.
1754 (1st October)
A son, Paul (Pavel) Petrovich was born to Catherine and Peter of Holstein-Gottorp at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg.
1757 (17th December)
A daughter, Anna Petrovna was born to Catherine and Peter of Holstein-Gottorp at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. She may have been fathered by Stanislaw Poniiatowski.
1759 (8th March)
Catherine’s daughter, Anna Petrovna, died.
Catherine began a relationship with Grigory Orlov.
A son, Aleksey Bobrinsky was born to Catherine the Great and Grigory Orlov. The child was raised away from court.
1762 (5th January)
The Empress of Russia, Elizabeth, died and Catherine’s husband, Peter, became Emperor Peter III. The couple moved from the Palace of Oranienbaum to the Winter Palace.
The rule of Emperor Peter III was not popular and many of his decisions were unpopular with the military and the nobility. In spite of her husband, Catherine maintained good relations with these groups. She began plotting to depose Peter, aided by Grigory Orlov.
Emperor Peter III was visiting the Palace of Oranienbaum with a number of his favourite courtiers. He had left Catherine behind in the Winter Palace.
1762 (9th July)
Catherine decided the time was right to depose her husband and take over the rule of Russia. she quickly gained the support of the Russian military and was ordained as Empress in her own right the same day. Peter III was arrested and forced to abdicate in his wife’s favour.
1762 (17th July)
Peter III of Russia died. Despite the cause of death being stated as a stroke, it was rumoured that he was murdered by Alexei Orlov, brother of Grigory Orlov who had helped Catherine overthrow the Emperor but this has never been proved.
1762 (22nd September)
Catherine the Great of Russia was crowned at the Assumption Cathedral, Moscow. Her crown, designed by Jeremie Pauzie, would become the coronation crown for all future Emperors.
The French government announced that Diderot was to stop publication of his Encyclopedie because it went against religion. On hearing of this, Catherine wrote to Diderot and offered her protection if he wished to complete his work in Russia.
Nikita Panin was appointed foreign minister.
Catherine began corresponding with the French enlightenment writer, Voltaire.
Catherine the Great was an ‘enlightened monarch’ and was interested in new teachings, literature, philosophies and art works. She founded The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg to house her personal collection.
Catherine believed that a good education system would help to modernise Russia. She set up a commission comprised of educational pioneers to advise her. The commission reported that all Russians should be given schooling from the age of 5 to the age of 18 years with the exception of serfs.
The Smolny Institute was established for the education of the daughters of the nobility.
1764 (11th April)
This was a mutual defence alliance between Russia and Prussia.
1764 (16th July)
Ivan VI of Russia, who had been deposed by Empress Elizabeth in 1741, tried to take the throne from Catherine, claiming he was the rightful ruler. He was murdered by Vasily Mirovich, a lieutenant in the army acting under instructions from Catherine.
1764 (7th September)
Catherine made Stanislaw Augustus Poniatowski, one of her close favourites, ruler of Poland.
Free Economic Society
Catherine established this society for the sharing of ideas and innovations.
Catherine the Great agreed a treaty of commerce between Russia and Great Britain.
In a move towards following the principles of the Enlightenment, Catherine summoned representatives of all classes to a Grand Commission to discuss the wider needs of the Russian Empire.
The Cadet Corps began taking children from a younger age and educating them before they became soldiers.
Catherine began work on a statement of laws based on the principles of the Enlightenment. Called the Nakaz, Catherine wanted it to replace the established laws of Russia. She presented the work to a Legislative Commission.
Catherine the Great took control of Poland/Lithuania by establishing herself as protectof of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
There were protests in Poland and Lithuania against Russia’s takeover of their lands.
War broke out with Turkey over Catherine’s increasing influence in Poland.
This was a rebellion against Catherine’s rule. It was organised by Yemelyan Pugachev, an army lieutenant who wanted to see an end to serfdom.
1773 (29th September)
Catherine’s son, Paul married Whlhelmina Louisa of Hesse-Darmastadt.
1774 (12th July)
Pugachev’s Rebellion – Battle of Kazan
This was a battle between the forces of Pugachev and government forces. The rebels had some initial success but were eventually defeated. Pugachev was captured and executed.
The war ended with Russian victory. Russia had gained new territory in the south including Odessa.
1774 (early Summer)
Catherine began a relationship with Grigory Potemkin, who had been a commander in the Russo-Turkish War.
1774 (10th July)
Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca
This treaty between Russia and the Ottoman Empire gave Russia access to the Black Sea and made the Crimea an independent state under the protectorate of Russia.
The Statute for the Administration of the Provinces of the Russian Empire
This statute set out a blueprint for the efficient government of Russia.
A young woman claiming to be Princess Tarakanova, a daughter of Empress Elizabeth, appeared in Western Europe seeking support for her claim. Alexei Orlov feigned romantic interest in her and took her to Russia where she was imprisoned. She died from tuberculosis while in prison.
Catherine the Great’s relationship with Grigory Potemkin ended.
Catherine began a relationship with Pyotr Zavadovsky.
1776 (26th April)
Wilhelmina Louisa, Catherine’s daughter-in-law, died from complications following a stillbirth.
1776 (26th September)
Catherine’s son, Paul, married Sophie Dorothea of Wurttemberg, who had taken the name Maria Feodorovna on conversion to Russian Orthodoxy.
Catherine’s relationship with Pyotr Zavadovsky ended.
Catherine began a relationship with Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov ended.
Catherine’s relationship with Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov ended after he was unfaithful to her.
1783 (19th April)
Catherine the Great annexed the Crimea.
1783 (24th July)
Treaty of Georgievsk
This was a treaty between Russia and Georgia where Russia agreed to protect Georgia in the event of an attack by Persia (Iran).
Charter to the Nobility
This charter established the nobility as a separate privileged class in Russia.
Catherine began a relationship with Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov, a Count.
The Russian Statute of National Education established a two-tier system of schools. Primary and Secondary schools would be co-educational and pupils would follow a designated curriculum. Manuals were produced to instruct teachers on the best teaching methods.
1787 (19th August)
War broke out again between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The Turks wanted to reclaim the Crimea.
1788 (19th August)
War broke out again when Sweden attacked Russia with the intention of deposing Catherine the Great. However, the Swedes were unable to defeat Russia.
1789 (early Summer)
Catherine’s relationship with Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov, ended.
Russia attempted to negotiate a trade deal with Japan but failed to get Japanese approval.
1792 (9th January)
The war ended with victory for Russia.
1792 (18th May)
War broke out between Poland and Russia in a Polish bid to break free from Russian involvement. The Poles were not successful and Russia gained a greater control of Poland.
King agha Mohammad Khan of Persia invaded and took control of Georgia.
As agreed under the treaty of Georgievsk, Russia invaded Georgia to drive the Persians out.
1796 (16th November)
Catherine the Great died following a stroke. She was succeeded by her son, Paul.