'Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman', by Robert K. Massie

'Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman', by Robert K. Massie

‘Catalina la Grande, portrait of a woman‘ offers all the requirements expected of a good novel: suspense, passions, political intrigues ... and it's aimed at readers who superficially know the life of this great woman, and at the same time it is presented as an excellent read for those interested in reading a well-written story.

The writer Robert K. Massie, winner of Pulizter Prize for Biography in 1987 for his famous work Peter the great, has returned to its literary origins narrating the life of the most renowned tsarina in Russia:Catherine II the Great, also called in its time the Semiramis of the North.

Catherine was born in Stettin in 1729. Daughter of some German princes come down, she married at the age of 15 with Peter III, who in the words of the author, was a sad man in appearance and mind who preferred to play with his toy soldiers to lie in the conjugal bed with his wife. On her first wedding night, Catalina wrote in her memoirs: “Everything stayed in its place, and so it continued for the next nine years”.

It was Elizabeth I of Russia herself, aunt of Pedro III, the one who prompted Catalina to seek out of wedlock, other ways to ensure the succession of the Russian Empire. One of the reasons why Northern Semiramis it has been so famous in history, it has been because of the large number of lovers who attributed it to it. As they say, the fruit of these relationships were their three children, including Paul I, who would be the successor to the throne and recognized as the legitimate son of Pedro III.

Behind the death of Elizabeth I, Russia would remain in the hands of Peter III, although it would be for a short time (I would only reign for six months), since his incompetence as the new Tsar of the Empire, led to the enmity of many sectors of the Russian population. In July 1762, there was a coup d'état that proclaims Catherine as the new ruler of Russia, and in that same month, her husband is assassinated, supposedly at the request of his own wife. She reigned alone until the day of her death in Saint Petersburg in 1796.

His domestic politics were influenced by the principles of the French Illustration. He had a lot of relationship with the great French philosophers and writers of his time, including Diderot, creator and forerunner of the encyclopedia, and especially with Voltaire, with whom he maintained a continuous correspondence. He intervened in the partitions of Poland and had long fights against the Turks, in addition his government had to face the greatest russian revolution that was known until then driven by Yemelián Pugachov.

Robert K. Massie assures that Catherine II and Peter the Great were the two great rulers that succeeded in raising Russia from a medieval past, to the modern world of the 18th century. Catherine made possible the union of Russian culture with European culture, and they are attributed a large part of the cultural achievements of the nineteenth century in this country: poetry, literature, music, and even dance.

The author has already been awarded the 1st Carnegie Medal for Excellence in fiction for this fabulous biography, which is undoubtedly a great book that honors a great woman.


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