Catherine The Great Of Russia And The Coup Against Peter Iii

1539 words - 6 pages

The real figure and story of Catherine the Great and Peter the Third has been overlaid by gilt and varnish much like the church mural paintings of old. Some of the true story would be uncovered, while other fragments of it would remain hidden beneath the surface never to be revealed. The allegory of Catherine, and the mysteriously convenient death of Peter III, is one that has been pondered over for decades. With very little evidence to go by the events that occurred on June 28, 1762 are very mysterious and highly susceptible to exaggeration and bias. An examination of the memoirs of Catherine II as well as other key members of the Russian military and royalty will show that Catherine the Great was not individually responsible for the death of Peter III.

Catherine the Great was an exceptionally bright and cunning woman, and she cared deeply for the well being of Russia and its citizens. After watching her husband, Peter III's, inability to govern the country properly, Catherine decided to take matters into her own hands. She plotted a coup d'etates with the help from her devoted followers and admirers the Orlav family, Count Nikita Panin, Passek, and Hetman Kirill Gregorevich Razumovsky to name a few. According to Catherine's memoirs, "the nation was completely devoted to her and saw in her their only hope. Various groups had been formed to put a stop to the suffering of the Fatherland." The coup came at the most congenial time; the Russian people were ready for a change. The coup was put in effect very rapidly; Peter did not have an opportunity to rebel. He was arrested very briskly but, "in putting himself into the power of his wife, was not entirely destitute of hope" so he was then, "confined in a pleasant villa, called Robeschak, six leagues distance from Petersburg." While being held at Robeschak, Peter III wrote to Catherine telling her that she "may be sure that I will not undertake anything against her person or her reign." To this point all of the accounts are fairly consistent with one another. However, this is where the truth gets skewed to suit the needs of the author or the audience.

Peter the III passed away on June 28, 1762 at the villa of Robeschake. In a letter written to Poniatovski, a previous lover of hers, Catherine explains her version of Peter's death. She states that she, "sent the deposed Emperor to Rosha.... under the command of Alexie Orlov, while respectable and comfortable rooms were being prepared for him in Schlusselburg and also to give time to organize a relay of horses. But God disposed differently. Fright had given him colic that lasted three days and passed on the fourth. On that day he drank excessively--for he had everything he wanted, except liberty. The illness affected his brain, it was followed by a great weakness and in spite of all the assistance of physicians, he gave up the ghost, after asking for a Lutheran priest. I had him opened up--but his stomach showed no traces of ill-health. The...

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