Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Catherine the Great

by Virginia Rounding

Roughly the contemporary of Marie Antoinette, Catherine was also the object of vicious slander, both during her lifetime and after. Unlike Marie, Catherine was a powerful, capable ruler who seized the throne from her husband in a coup and was subsequently implicated in his murder, at least indirectly. She then proceeded to take a series of lovers -- they seemed to be always be in their 20s, so as she aged, the gap in ages steadily widened -- in the most matter-of-fact, out-in-the-open way that it's not really too surprising that people enjoyed gossiping about her. She furthermore maintained close ties to her first three objects of affection: one who eventually became the King of Poland, another one of her finest generals, the third her lifelong advisor.

An interesting woman, obviously way ahead of her time.



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