The Austrian Empire was an empire in Central Europe created out of the realms of the Habsburgs by proclamation in 1804. It was an empire and one of Europes great powers. Geographically it was the second largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire and it was the third most populous after Russia and France, as well as the largest and strongest country in the German Confederation. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the dissolution in 1806. The Ausgleich of 1867 elevated Hungarys status and it became a separate entity from the Empire entirely, joining with it in the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Changes shaping the nature of the Holy Roman Empire took place during conferences in Rastatt, on 24 March 1803, the Imperial Recess was declared, which reduced the number of ecclesiastical states from 81 to only 3 and the free imperial cities from 51 to 6. This measure was aimed at replacing the old constitution of the Holy Roman Empire, taking this significant change into consideration, the German Emperor Francis II created the title Emperor of Austria, for himself and his successors.
In 1804 the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, who was ruler of the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy, founded the Empire of Austria. In doing so he created a formal overarching structure for the Habsburg Monarchy, to safeguard his dynastys imperial status he adopted the additional hereditary title of Emperor of Austria. Hungarys affairs remained administered by its own institutions as they had been beforehand, thus under the new arrangements no Imperial institutions were involved in its internal government. The fall and dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire was accelerated by French intervention in the Empire in September 1805, on 20 October 1805, an Austrian army led by general Karl Mack von Leiberich was defeated by French armies near the town of Ulm. The French victory resulted in the capture of 20,000 Austrian soldiers, Napoleons army won another victory at Austerlitz on 2 December 1805. Francis was forced into negotiations with the French from 4 to 6 December 1805, the French victories encouraged rulers of certain imperial territories to assert their formal independence from the Empire.
On 10 December 1805, the prince-elector Duke of Bavaria proclaimed himself King, finally, on 12 December, the Margrave of Baden was given the title of Grand Duke. In addition, each of these new countries signed a treaty with France, the Treaty of Pressburg between France and Austria, signed in Pressburg on 26 December, enlarged the territory of Napoleons German allies at the expense of defeated Austria. Certain Austrian holdings in Germany were passed to French allies—the King of Bavaria, the King of Württemberg, Austrian claims on those German states were renounced without exception. On 12 July 1806, the Confederation of the Rhine was established, comprising 16 sovereigns and this confederation, under French influence, put an end to the Holy Roman Empire. On 6 August 1806, even Francis recognized the new state of things and proclaimed the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, as he did not want Napoleon to succeed him
Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg
Kazan Cathedral or Kazanskiy Kafedralniy Sobor, known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, is a cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Nevsky Prospekt in Saint Petersburg. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia, construction of the cathedral started in 1801 and continued for ten years under the supervision of Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov. Upon its completion in 1811, the new temple replaced the Church of Nativity of the Theotokos, the architect Andrey Voronikhin modelled the building on St. Peters Basilica in Rome. Some art historians assert that Emperor Paul intended to build a church on the other side of Nevsky Prospect that would mirror the Kazan Cathedral. Although the Russian Orthodox Church strongly disapproved of the plans to create a replica of a Catholic basilica in Russias capital, several courtiers supported Voronikhins Empire Style design. After Napoleon invaded Russia and the commander-in-chief General Mikhail Kutuzov asked Our Lady of Kazan for help, the Patriotic War over, Russians saw the cathedral primarily as a memorial to their victory over Napoleon.
Kutuzov himself was interred in the cathedral in 1813, and Alexander Pushkin wrote celebrated lines meditating over his sepulchre, in 1815 keys to seventeen cities and eight fortresses were brought by the victorious Russian army from Europe and placed in the cathedrals sacristy. In 1837, Boris Orlovsky designed two statues of Kutuzov and of Barclay de Tolly which stand in front of the cathedral. In 1876 the Kazan demonstration, the first political demonstration in Russia, after the Russian Revolution of 1917 the authorities closed the cathedral. In November 1932 it reopened as the pro-Marxist Museum of the History of Religion, services resumed in 1992, and four years the cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. As of 2017 it functions as the cathedral of the metropolis of St. Petersburg. The cathedrals interior, with its numerous columns, echoes the exterior colonnade and is reminiscent of a palatial hall, the interior features numerous sculptures and icons created by the best Russian artists of the day. A wrought-iron grille separating the cathedral from a square behind it is sometimes cited as one of the finest ever constructed.
The cathedrals huge bronze doors are one of three copies of the doors of the Baptistry in Florence, Italy. Our Lady of Kazan Kazan Cathedral, Moscow Koeppe, Giusti, Anna Maria, art of the royal court, treasures in Pietre Dure from the palaces of Europe. Media related to Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg at Wikimedia Commons
First French Empire
The First French Empire, Note 1 was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Its name was a misnomer, as France already had colonies overseas and was short lived compared to the Colonial Empire, a series of wars, known collectively as the Napoleonic Wars, extended French influence over much of Western Europe and into Poland. The plot included Bonapartes brother Lucien, serving as speaker of the Council of Five Hundred, Roger Ducos, another Director, on 9 November 1799 and the following day, troops led by Bonaparte seized control. They dispersed the legislative councils, leaving a rump legislature to name Bonaparte, Sieyès, although Sieyès expected to dominate the new regime, the Consulate, he was outmaneuvered by Bonaparte, who drafted the Constitution of the Year VIII and secured his own election as First Consul. He thus became the most powerful person in France, a power that was increased by the Constitution of the Year X, the Battle of Marengo inaugurated the political idea that was to continue its development until Napoleons Moscow campaign.
Napoleon planned only to keep the Duchy of Milan for France, setting aside Austria, the Peace of Amiens, which cost him control of Egypt, was a temporary truce. He gradually extended his authority in Italy by annexing the Piedmont and by acquiring Genoa, Parma and Naples, he laid siege to the Roman state and initiated the Concordat of 1801 to control the material claims of the pope. Napoleon would have ruling elites from a fusion of the new bourgeoisie, on 12 May 1802, the French Tribunat voted unanimously, with exception of Carnot, in favour of the Life Consulship for the leader of France. This action was confirmed by the Corps Législatif, a general plebiscite followed thereafter resulting in 3,653,600 votes aye and 8,272 votes nay. On 2 August 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Consul for life, pro-revolutionary sentiment swept through Germany aided by the Recess of 1803, which brought Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden to Frances side. The memories of imperial Rome were for a time, after Julius Caesar and Charlemagne.
The Treaty of Pressburg, signed on 26 December 1805, did little other than create a more unified Germany to threaten France. On the other hand, Napoleons creation of the Kingdom of Italy, the occupation of Ancona, to create satellite states, Napoleon installed his relatives as rulers of many European states. The Bonapartes began to marry into old European monarchies, gaining sovereignty over many nations, in addition to the vassal titles, Napoleons closest relatives were granted the title of French Prince and formed the Imperial House of France. Met with opposition, Napoleon would not tolerate any neutral power, Prussia had been offered the territory of Hanover to stay out of the Third Coalition. With the diplomatic situation changing, Napoleon offered Great Britain the province as part of a peace proposal and this, combined with growing tensions in Germany over French hegemony, Prussia responded by forming an alliance with Russia and sending troops into Bavaria on 1 October 1806. In this War of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon destroyed the armies of Frederick William at Jena-Auerstedt, the Eylau and the Friedland against the Russians finally ruined Frederick the Greats formerly mighty kingdom, obliging Russia and Prussia to make peace with France at Tilsit.
The Treaties of Tilsit ended the war between Russia and the French Empire and began an alliance between the two empires that held power of much of the rest of Europe, the two empires secretly agreed to aid each other in disputes
Count Alexander Petrovich Tormasov was a Russian cavalry general prominent during the Napoleonic Wars. Alexander Tormasov was born on 22 August 1752 into an old Russian noble family, at the age of ten, he entered service as a Page of Honour, aged 20 in 1772 he began military service as a lieutenant of the Vyatka infantry regiment. Within a few weeks he joined the staff of Yakov Bruce as aide-de-camp, three years Tormasov formed and headed the Finland Chasseur regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1782 Prince Potemkin charged to him an operation in the Crimea, following that Tormasov commanded the Dolmatsky Hussars, on the base of which he formed and led the Aleksandrian light cavalry regiment with the rank of colonel. In 1788–1791 he took part in the Russo-Turkish War, serving at the Siege of Ochakov and the Danube river raids and he commanded the left flank cavalry at the storm of Machin, for which he received the Order of St. George 3rd Class. Like many other generals of this time, he was dismissed by Emperor Paul I on 11 July 1799 and was imprisoned in the Dünamünde fortress for several months, on 16 November 1800 he was restored in the army.
On 15 September 1801, on the day of the coronation of the new Emperor Alexander I he was promoted to Full General of cavalry, he took up an administrative post until 1803. From 1803 Tormasov served as governor of Kiev and from 1807 Riga, from 1809 to 1811, he served as a Viceroy of Georgia and as the commander-in-chief in the Caucasus. After the French invasion of Russia began, Tormasov became the Chief Commander of the 40, advancing North against Jean Reynier in mid July, he overwhelmed Klengels Saxon brigade at Kobryn 27th, marking the first Russian victory in the campaign. Tormasov received the Order of St. George 2nd Class for this, defeated in turn by Reynier and Schwarzenberg at Gorodetschna 12 August, he withdrew to Ratno to join with the corps of Pavel Chichagov, meeting him on the river Styr 18 September. The combined command acted under the orders of Mikhail Kutuzov, ordered to envelop the Grande Armée at Liady, he was however recalled to the main army by Kutusov after being repulsed at the 2nd Battle of Krasnoe 15 November.
Appointed by Kutusov with internal management of all troops in December, in 1813 he commanded the Russian army at the Battle of Lützen, but resigned due to failing health. After leaving military service he became a member of the State Council, on 30 August 1814 he succeeded Count Fyodor Rostopchin as General Governor of the Moscow Governorate. Two years he received a title for his efforts in rebuilding the city. After his death in Moscow on November 25,1819, he was buried in the Donskoy Monastery, tormasovs only son died in 1839 and thus this family became extinct. Russian Officer Corps of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and this article includes content derived from the Russian Biographical Dictionary, 1896–1918
Battle of Berezina
The battle ended with a mixed outcome. The French suffered very heavy losses but managed to cross the river, since Bérézina has been used in French as a synonym for disaster. As the surviving masses of the Grande Armée struggled on for the safety of the west. The French had suffered a defeat just two weeks earlier during the Battle of Krasnoi, the Russians had approximately 61,000 troops at the Berezina, with another 54,000 under Kutuzov just 40 miles to the east who were approaching the river. Napoleons plan was to cross the Berezina River and head for Poland, while his enemies wanted to him there. The original plan to cross the river quickly proved impossible. The nearby bridge at Borisov had been destroyed and most of the equipment to build a bridge had been destroyed a few days earlier. Marshal Oudinot was given the task of drawing off the admiral, the plan worked, and Eblés Dutch engineers braved ferociously cold water to construct the vital 100-metre bridge. Hypothermic death in less than 30 minutes of exposure was likely, the four Swiss infantry regiments acted as the rearguard.
Cavalry quickly crossed it followed by infantry to hold the bridgehead, the Swiss suffered terrible losses, but managed to cover both positions and the retreat. This struggle is depicted in the Beresinalied, the Swiss heroic stand saved most of the French troops. A second structure opened within hours and cannons were taken across it to bolster the defensive perimeter and they arrived just in time, as Chichagov realised his error and attacked the 11,000 French troops. By midday of the 27th, Napoleon and his Imperial Guard were across, and the strategy now swung to saving the Swiss rearguard, one of the spans broke in the late afternoon, but more feats of engineering skill had it repaired by early evening. The corps of Marshal Davout and Prince Eugene crossed, leaving Marshal Victors IX Corps to hold off the enemy on the east bank, there is considerable disagreement regarding the numbers of casualties on both sides. While some 22,000 French men became casualties, these included a number of stragglers.
A higher estimate is provided by historian Jacques Garnier, who places French losses at 25,000 combatants,25 cannon and 20,000 civilian stragglers, of which around 10,000 were massacred by Cossacks. Russian casualties were high, and although a very moderate 19th century Russian estimate places them at 6,000 they probably amounted to 20,000 men. Historian Alain Pigeard offers more moderate figures, between 13,000 and 16,000 men for the French,13,000 men for the Russians, among the French casualties were three generals and four colonels, killed during this battle
Second Battle of Polotsk
The Second Battle of Polotsk took place during Napoleons invasion of Russia. In this encounter the Russians under General Peter Wittgenstein attacked and defeated a Franco-Bavarian force under Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr, in the aftermath of this success, the Russians took Polotsk and dismantled Napoleons operations in Belarus. Wittgensteins victory set the stage for the Battle of Berezina in November, while advancing on Moscow, Napoleon left a contingent of French and German troops at Polotsk to guard his northern flank against Wittgenstein. By establishing a front at Polotsk, Napoleon kept Wittgensteins command at bay. Such a development would sever the Grande Armées communications with Europe, throughout the summer and early fall of 1812, Russians and French were stalemated at Polotsk, which meant that St. Cyrs troops were accomplishing their objective of holding the Dwina Line. The first battle of Polotsk, an engagement fought in August, had the effect of keeping Wittgensteins army at bay and was therefore considered a success by Napoleon.
By mid-October, the balance of power at Polotsk had shifted dramatically. Wittgensteins force had been reinforced and was now numerically superior to the French force it confronted. Wittgestein at this point was in command of close to 50,000 troops. This force was composed of 31,000 regular troops and 9,000 militiamen at Polotsk itself, against this Russian juggernaut, the French under St. Cyr had no more than 23,000 to 27,000 troops. On 18 October, Wittgestein opened his offensive against the French Dwina Line, on the first day of combat, the Russians made seven consecutive frontal assaults on Polotsk, while Steingals force began advancing on the French rear. The fighting at Polotsk was torrid and bloody, with the French losing close 8,000 to 12,000 troops, all seven Russian attacks were beaten back by the end of the day. St. Cyr could claim to have won one in this bitter battle. Planning to renew his attack once Steingals forces arrived, Wittgenstein maintained an artillery bombardment of Polotsk.
Late on the day,19 October, Steingal advanced to within four miles of Polotsk. That night, knowing that their position was untenable, the French began evacuating Polotsk, fierce house-to-house combat ensued in the town as the Russians launched their final attack. Acting decisively to secure his battered forces southern retreat route, St. Cyr ordered his Bavarian contingent to drive Steingal back early the day,20 October. This task was accomplished by the Bavarians impressively, as Steingal was compelled to retreat with heavy casualties, the French thus saved themselves from encirclement by the Russians, but still, the battle for Polotsk had been lost
Pruzhany is a town in Brest Voblast, Belarus. Pruzhany is the center of a district in Brest Region and its population is about 20,000 people. The town is located at the confluence of the Mukha River and the Vets Canal, Pruzhany has been known as Dabuchyn since 1487. In the 16th century, it belonged to queen Bona Sforza of Poland and she brought Renaissance influence and development of trades in this part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1589, her daughter Anna granted a charter and the coat of arms of Pruzhany. The coat of arms was borrowed from that of the Sforza family of Milan, Pruzhany was a center of pottery trade at those times. In the mid-19th century, a wealthy Polish landlord, Walenty Szwykowski, laid out a park and built a palace that houses a museum today. The museum has a collection on the history and arts of the region. Another tourist attraction is the landmark at the confluence of the Mukha River and it presents a statue of a passionate pair rising over waves. The Jewish population in 1900 was 5,080, during World War II, Pruzhany was occupied by the Germans from 26 June 1941 to 17 July 1944.
In 1941, the Nazis herded the Jews of Białystok and the vicinity here to create a ghetto. In Aktion roundups on 28-31 January 1943, the Nazis deported 10,000 Jews of the Pruzhany ghetto to Auschwitz, via Birkenau, in 2003, the central part of the town was reconstructed to prepare the town for the national harvest festival “Dozhinki” in autumn 2003. Pruzhany is the birthplace of Joseph B, the Torah scholar and Jewish leader. Bielyja Lauki Photos on Radzima. org Biography of Alexandre Okinczyc
Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino was a battle fought on 7 September 1812 in the Napoleonic Wars during the French invasion of Russia. The fighting involved around 250,000 troops and left at least 70,000 casualties, Napoleons Grande Armée launched an attack against the Russian army, driving it back from its initial positions but failing to gain a decisive victory. Both armies were exhausted after the battle and the Russians withdrew from the field the following day, Borodino represented the last Russian effort at stopping the French advance on Moscow, which fell a week later. After a series of Russian retreats at the beginning of the campaign, Mikhail Kutuzov was appointed as his replacement. In a final attempt to save Moscow, the Russians made a stand near the village of Borodino and they fortified their positions and waited for the French to attack. The Russian right wing occupied ideal defensive terrain, so the French tried to press the Russian left for much of the battle, the highlight of the fighting became the bloody struggle for the large Raevsky redoubt near the village of Borodino.
The French managed to capture this redoubt late into the day, the Russians suffered terrible casualties during the fighting, losing over a third of their army. French losses were heavy, exacerbating the logistical difficulties that Napoleon encountered in the campaign. Napoleons Imperial Guard, the unit on the battlefield that saw no fighting, was available to swing into action at a moments notice. In refusing to commit the Guard, some believe, he lost his one chance to destroy the Russian army. The capture of Moscow proved a pyrrhic victory since the Russians had no intention of negotiating with Napoleon for peace. The French evacuated Russias spiritual capital in October and conducted a retreat that only ended in December. Historical reports of the battle differed significantly depending on whether they originated from supporters of the French or Russian side, factional fighting among senior officers within each army led to conflicting accounts and disagreements over the roles of particular officers.
The French Grande Armée began its invasion of Russia on 16 June 1812, in response, Emperor Alexander I proclaimed a Patriotic War and prepared to face the French. However, Phulls plan soon proved to be a mistake, as the enormous Grande Armée was more than enough to separate. Furthermore, the participation of Tsar Alexander I as commander caused more chaos in the Russian army, the Russian forces which were massed along the Polish frontier were obliged to fall back in the face of the swift French advance. Napoleon advanced from Vitebsk, hoping to catch the Russian Army in the open where he could annihilate it, the French army was not positioned well for an extended overland campaign, it was 925 km from its nearest supply base at Kovno. French supply lines were vulnerable and Cossacks, light cavalry, guerrilla forces and even French deserters attacked and seriously depleted French supply columns
Battle of Klyastitsy
The Battle of Klyastitsy, called battle of Yakubovo, was a series of military engagements which took place in 1812 near the village of Klyastitsy on the road between Polotsk and Sebezh. In this battle the Russian corps under the command of Peter Wittgenstein, the result was inconclusive, with both sides suffering heavy losses and retreating along their communication lines after the battle. On 28 July, twelve French cavalry squadrons were surprised and attacked by eight Russian hussard, at that time Oudinot occupied the village of Klyastitsy on his advance towards St. Petersburg. There were 28,000 French troops while the Russian Corps numbered 17,000, in spite of being outnumbered, Wittgenstein decided to fight. The battle started on 30 July at 2 pm, the Russian vanguard led by Kulnev fought with the French vanguard for the whole day near the village of Yakubov. Kulnev managed to press the French but they kept the village under their control, on the next day, after several attacks and counterattacks, the Russian advance forced Oudinot to retreat to Klyastitsy.
In order to continue their advance the Russian troops had to cross the river Nishcha, Oudinot ordered his troops to set fire to the only bridge. While the Russian cavalry was wading across the Nishcha, the 2nd battalion of the Pavlovsk Grenadier regiment rushed the burning bridge and this instance was depicted by Peter Hess in his painting, illustrated to the right. Kulnev continued to chase the French Corps with several cavalry regiments, after crossing the Drissa river on 1 August his unit ran into an ambush and suffered heavy casualties under the fire of French artillery. Kulnev was badly wounded and died the same day, finally Oudinot retreated to Polotsk and the French advance on St. Petersburg failed. Wittgenstein was awarded the Order of St. George of the Second Degree, alexander I is reported to have called him the saviour of St. Petersburg. Captain Krylov, whose unit was the first to cross the river over the burning bridge, received the Order of St. George of the Fourth Degree
Kovel is a town in Volyn Oblast, in northwestern Ukraine. Serving as the center of Kovel Raion, the town itself is designated as a town of oblast significance and is not part of the raion. Population,69, 342 Kovel gives its name to one of the oldest Runic inscriptions which were lost during World War II, the Kovel spearhead, unearthed near the town in 1858, contained text in Gothic language. Kovel was first mentioned in 1310 and it received city rights from the Polish King Sigismund I the Old in 1518. In 1547 the owner of Kowel became Bona Sforza, Polish queen, in 1564 starost of Kowel became Kurbski. From 1566 to 1795 it was part of the Volhynian Voivodeship, Kowel was a royal city of Poland. After the Partitions of Poland the town fell into the Russian Empire for over a hundred years, during the First World War, the city was a site of the Battle of Kovel between the Central Powers and the Russian Empire. In the interwar period, Kovel served as the capital of Kovel County in Volhynian Voivodeship of the Polish Republic and it was an important garrison of the Polish Army, here the headquarters of the 27th Volhynian Infantry Division was located.
Furthermore, at the village of Czerkasy, a depot of the Polish Army was located. In 1924, construction of the St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Roman Catholic church began, in World War II, following the Nazi German invasion of Poland and subsequently, their Operation Barbarossa the Germans murdered 18,000 Jews in Kovel, mostly during August and September 1942. About 8,000 Jews were murdered in the forest near Bakhiv on August 19,1942 during the liquidation of the Kovel ghetto, jewish victims were driven by train from Kovel to Bakhiv where pits were dug close to the railroads. Actually there were two ghettos, one within the city and another in the suburbs of Pyaski, both numbered about 24,000, the Jews from two ghettos were executed at different places and at different time. Later on, in March and April 1944, Kovel was a site of fighting between the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking and the Red Army. During the Volhynian Genocide, the town was a shelter for ethnic Poles, in that period, Ukrainian nationalists murdered app.3,700 Polish inhabitants of Kovel county.
In early spring of 1944, the 27th Infantry Division of the Home Army operated in the area, Kovel was captured by the Red Army in July 1944. In 1945, at the insistence of Joseph Stalin Polands borders were redrawn and it has been a part of sovereign Ukraine since 1991. Kovel is the hub of the Ukrainian rail system, with six rail lines radiating outward from the city. The first of these was built in 1873, connecting the city with Brest-Litovsk, in 1877 Kovel was first linked by rail with Lublin and Warsaw in Congress Poland
Catherine the Great
Catherine II of Russia, known as Catherine the Great, was a Russian monarch. She was the female leader of Russia, reigning from 1762 until her death in 1796 at the age of 67. She came to following a coup détat when her husband. Russia was revitalised under her reign, growing larger and stronger than ever, in both her accession to power and in rule of her empire, Catherine often relied on her noble favourites, most notably Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. In the west, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, ruled by Catherines former lover, king Stanisław August Poniatowski, was eventually partitioned, in the east, Russia started to colonise Alaska, establishing Russian America. Catherine reformed the administration of Russian guberniyas, and many new cities, an admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernise Russia along Western European lines. However, military conscription and the continued to depend on serfdom. This was one of the reasons behind several rebellions, including the large-scale Pugachevs Rebellion of cossacks.
The period of Catherine the Greats rule, the Catherinian Era, is considered the Golden Age of the Russian Empire. The Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility, issued during the reign of Peter III and confirmed by Catherine. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical style endorsed by the Empress and she enthusiastically supported the ideals of The Enlightenment, thus earning the status of an enlightened despot. Catherine was born in Stettin, Kingdom of Prussia as Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, she was nicknamed Figchen. Her father, Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, belonged to the ruling German family of Anhalt, two of her first cousins became Kings of Sweden, Gustav III and Charles XIII. In accordance with the prevailing in the ruling dynasties of Germany, she received her education chiefly from a French governess. She once wrote to her correspondent Baron Grimm, I see nothing of interest in it, although Catherine was born a princess, her family had very little money.
Catherines rise to power was supported by her mothers relatives who were both wealthy nobles and royal relations. Catherine first met Peter III at the age of 10, based on her writings, she found Peter detestable upon meeting him. She disliked his pale complexion and his fondness for alcohol at such a young age, Peter still played with toy soldiers