02 May Happy Birthday Blog: Catherine the Great
Catherine II (Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst)
Born: May 2, 1726
Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia (now Szczecin, Poland)
Known For: Longest Serving Empress of Russia
It’s rare with our happy birthday cards when we go back in history further than the 19th century. But, when we spend so much time talking about leaders and leadership, we would be remiss not to celebrate the birthday of one of the most famous historic women leaders.
Princess Sophie married Peter III of Russia as a young woman. She converted to Russian Orthodoxy and also took the name Ekaterina (Catherine). She did not have a happy marriage with her husband, with rumors of his infertility plaguing their union. Catherine famously had many lovers throughout her life, producing 4 children with those men.
Her rise to power in Russia came after her husband made the unpopular decision of ending Russia’s war with Prussia. Gaining support from military leaders, Catherine overthrew her husband and became Empress in 1762.
During her rule, Catherine faced 12 insurrections, but she also expanded the territory of Russia, and wrote and produced books and pamphlets in order to improve the Russian education system. She was very interested in culture, and corresponded with several intellectual leaders from this period.
While we certainly don’t agree with absolute monarchy’s, we salute Catherine on her birthday, especially for managing to rule as long as she did as a woman in the 18th century!
Learn more about Catherine here.