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Catherine the Great by Simon Dixon

By Simon Dixon

favourite for her achievements and satirized for her own existence, Catherine the good used to be the most celebrated monarchs in historical past, turning eighteenth-century Russia into arguably the most important and strongest kingdom because the fall of the Roman Empire. She promoted radical political rules whereas emphasizing moderation in govt. She should be ruthless while invaluable, yet she charmed each person she met, joking at deepest dinner events within the Hermitage, which she had outfitted for her personal use. made up our minds to endear herself to the Russians, she made non secular devotions within which she by no means believed.

Intimate and revealing, Catherine the Great examines the lifelong friendships that sustained the empress all through her own existence and locations her in the context of the royal court docket: its politics, its flourishing literature and the very tradition that turned primary to her workout of absolute energy.

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In sharp contrast to St Petersburg, Marian imagery was prominent all over Moscow, which claimed to have inherited the Virgin’s traditional role as protectress of Constantinople when the ‘second Rome’ fell to the Turks in 1453. ) Orthodox writers who had celebrated the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God as recently as 8 September now portrayed Catherine in the image of a virginal queen capable of restoring happiness and leading her people to paradise. But while it was convenient to associate the empress with the Virgin by virtue of her sex, her office led to analogies with Christ himself.

Underlying them all lay the dilemma facing any ruler. How far should she seek to build consent? When should she resort to force? In the immediate aftermath of her coup, Catherine had passed a series of crucial tests. She had staged a coronation that fused Orthodox tradition with classical imagery in a symbolic reconciliation of mercy and conquest. More important still, she had demonstrated the personal qualities that persuaded all those who met her that success lay within her grasp. ‘Affability and dignity,’ Buckinghamshire reported at the end of October 1762, ‘are blended in her manner, which inspires you at once with ease and respect.

26 In the event, the day dawned dry, if gloomy, and those intrepid enough to secure a vantage point did not have long to wait. The participants in the coronation had been summoned to their various assembly points across the Kremlin at the same early hour as the soldiers,27 and at ten o’clock Prince Trubetskoy began to count out the elaborate procession that flowed slowly through the Holy Vestibule on the first floor of the Palace of Facets, out onto the ceremonial Red Staircase, and down into Cathedral Square.

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