Catherine I

(Catherine I of Russia)


Catherine I of Russia was the first female ruler of the Russian Empire. She was also the mother of a future Empress, Elizabeth I of Russia. Catherine is supposed to have come from very humble beginnings; she was a maidservant before becoming the mistress of Peter the Great. Some stories claim she was actually sold to her employer of the time. Catherine and Peter are supposed to have been very close; this is certainly borne out in his eventual legal marriage to Catherine, and his legitimization of their children. Catherine was placed in power after the death of her husband through a coup organized by her supporters, who did not want to lose the reforms of Peter I. However, she reigned only two years before succumbing to an abcess of the lungs.

Key events during the life of Catherine I of Russia:

Born April 15th as Marta Helena. Birth date not confirmed.
Meets Peter the Great of Russia. Becomes his mistress.
Converts to Orthodoxy and takes the name Catherine.
Secretly marries Peter the Great. They have 12 children, two of whom survive to adulthood.
Accompanies Peter on his Pruth campaign. Sacrifices her jewels to bribe the Ottomans into allowing the Russians to retreat.
Officially marries Peter the Great at St. Petersburg.
Crowned Empress and co-ruler of Russia.
Death of Peter the Great, no successor named. Catherine's supporters organize a coup to place her in power.
Death of Catherine I, in St Petersburg.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
A Reformer Knouts his Son  in  The History of Russia  by  Nathan Haskell Dole
Frome the Hovel to the Throne  in  Historical Tales: Russian  by  Charles Morris

Image Links

The Empress Catherine
 in Peter the Great

Short Biography
Peter the Great Modernized Russia in spite of great resistance. Improved the army. Won coastal territory.
Elizabeth of Russia Daughter of Peter the Great, who as empress was patron of the arts and the Orthodox Church and opposed Frederick the Great in Prussia.