18th Century Podcast Episode 20 Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-20-Catherine-the-Great-e7s0ok/a-atdqu8

Summary

In today’s episode, we’ll be going over the life of Catherine the Great. From being a foreigner of Russia to it’s Empress, learn with me about the life of one of Russia’s greatest rulers as she brought in it’s golden age.

Script

INTRO

Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we’ll be going over the life of Catherine the Great. I thought this was appropriate to make this episode now given the fact that HBO is releasing a miniseries about Catherine the Great, which comes out this Monday, October 21st, 2019. I am not endorsed by HBO. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Let’s kick things off by taking a look at Catherine’s early life.

PART 1 EARlY LIFE

Catherine the Great young

Cathrine was born on May 2, 1729. But her name wasn’t Cathrine at the time. Her birth name was Sophia Frederike Auguste, and she was born in Stettin, Prussia. Her father was Prussian Prince Christian August von Anhalt-Zerbst. Her mother was Princess Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. Though her family was royalty, money was sparse. She would be educated by a French governess, among other tutors. Her education was common for a person of her rank. She was instructed in French and German. She also had lessons in history, music, and religion. She was brought up in the Lutheran faith. She would first meet her future husband who also happened to be her second cousin when she was ten. This meeting took place as a political arrangement by Peter III’s aunt, Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Sophia did not like Peter III on their first meeting, as she found him to be detestable. Empress Elizabeth took a liking to Sophia. Sophia would travel to Russia in 1744 with the prospect of marriage to Peter III. The reason for their union was pure politics. It was an arrangement between Frederick the Great and Empress Elizabeth, to strengthen the ties between their countries. Sophia would learn the Russian language, and do it with a fervent passion. Though her accent would remain foreign, She became near fluent in the language. In March of 1744, she did suffer a bout of phenomena, but it didn’t keep her down for long. In 1745, Sophia would convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, and received the new name, Catherine. Her father disapproved of her conversion, as being a devout Luthern himself. The day after Catherine converted, she formally married Peter III. Their marriage ceremony took place on August 21st. Her father would not travel to Russia to attend the ceremony. After their wedding, they settled into a palace. Their marriage wouldn’t go down in history as a happy one. Peter would spend his time making people act out drills, playing with toy soldiers, and chasing women. He supposedly had a consort. Catherine was rumored to have multiple consorts herself, but she also enjoyed passing the time by reading. The pair would produce a son, who was welcomed into the world in 1754, he was named Paul and would become a future Czar of Russia. Unfortunately for Catherine, her son was taken from her almost immediately after his birth. He was to be raised under the guise of his grandmother, Empress Elizabeth. Cathrine was allowed to see her son briefly during his christening a month later, and then again six months afterward. Peter had little to no interest in being a parent, but from what I can infer, Cathrine did. She would produce another child, and this time it would be a daughter, Anna, who would tragically die an infant in 1757. She would produce one more son, Alexi. Then in 1762, Empress Elizabeth died, leaving Peter III to take the throne. 

PART 2 THE COUP

Catherine the Great military riding a horse

In 1762, Empress Elizabeth died, which then Peter ascended to the throne as the Czar of Russia. Cathrine and Peter III moved from their Winter Palace to Saint Petersburg. Peter III had a fascination with Fredrick the Great, but his fascination seemed to alienate some of the Russian politicians. He changed sides in the Seven Years War, allying himself with his once enemy, Prussia. Cathrine wasn’t a big fan of her husband’s new policies either. There was a dispute between the Duchy of Holstein and Denmark over a province. Peter III started to gear up for war against Denmark over this dispute, but he didn’t find much support for it in the Capitol. Many politicians viewed the possible war as unnecessary, and a waste. Along with disgruntled politicians, Cathrine hatched a plot to overthrow her husband and take the throne for herself. During July of 1762, Peter III took a holiday along with his Holstein-born courtiers and relatives. He was just about six months into his reign at this point. Cathrine and her conspirators plotted the whole time, but their plan would have to move quicker than they thought. July 8th, 1762, Cathrine is woken in the night being informed that one of the conspirators has been arrested. The time to act is now. Cathrine raced out of the palace and made her way to a regiment of soldiers. She gave a speech asking for their protection, and the swore fealty to her. The regiment followed her as she made her way to the Semenovsky Barracks, where members of the clergy were waiting for her. The orthodox clergy ordained Cathrine as Empress of Russia. Now with the military backing her, the clergy, and some members of the State, she had everything in place. The only thing left was for Peter III to formally abdicate. Under Catherine’s orders, Peter III was arrested, and he signed a document formally abdicating. On July 17th, Peter III was killed. He reigned for about six months in total. It is not known if Catherine had a hand in his death. But now, everything was in place for Catherine to rule. We’re going to take a short break, and when we come back we’ll discuss Catherine’s time as Empress.

PART 3 EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

Catherine the Great Empress of Russia

Welcome back. Cathrine’s reign would bring Russia into a golden age. She was an advocate of The Enlightenment and implemented its ideas into her rule. Yet those ideas would be set in the years to come. One of her first acts as Empress was to recall the troops sent to fight Denmark, which prevented a war. This was a popular decision among the military at the time and granted her more of their favor. Under Peter, church land was seized, Cathrine returned the land to the church. However, later in her reign, she would nationalize the church. She attempted to model herself after Peter the Great. He was still a popular figure even after a few decades since his passing. She would also push for domestic reform to benefit her subjects. She advocated for a document known as the Nakaz, which would have outlawed capital punishment and torture. It also sought to see every man equal before the law. She also attempted to set reforms for the benefit of the serfs but it wasn’t popular in the Senate. She eventual got the Nakaz finalized. What happened next was the formation of the Legislative Commission, which would conduct its first meeting in 1767. No laws were brought forth from the Legislative Commission, but Russians from across the country got together to discuss matters for the first time in their history. The Legislative Commission was disbanded in 1768 when war broke out with the Ottomans. But this was triggered by conflict in Poland. She had made decent gains in Poland and gifted the country to one of her ex-lovers. Russia had a dispute by how Russian Orthodox practitioners were treated in Poland and this lead to the conflict. In 1772 the partition of Poland would occur. Her military escapades angered the Ottomans and they went to war with one another. In a way, this was a political blessing. She gained many victories over the Ottomans and established Russia as a military power in the world. She reached a peace treaty with the Ottomans in 1774, and yet again would expand Russian territory. On the homefront, however, she would face numerous peasant revolts. The peasants, or serfs, were tied to their owners, essentially being treated like slaves in all but name. between 1762 to 1769 there were around 50 minor revolts, all of which were put down. This tension would come to a head with Pugachev’s Rebellion, which lasted from 1773 to 1775. The serfs had some initial success but were eventually squashed. The leader of the rebellion was betrayed and captured. He was beheaded in Moscow in 1775, thus ending the rebellion. Cathrine’s early attitudes of liberalizing Russia were diminished after the rebellion. She wished to rescind the reforms she had made in favor of the serfs. During the 18th Century, Russia was viewed as a backwoods country with outdated ideas. Cathrine sought to bring Russia back into the light of her fellow Europeans. She implemented many education reforms and expanded educational opportunities for both boys and girls. In 1766, the Russian Cadet Corp school received some reforms. This military academy was more liberalized and began to teach other subjects along with the cadets’ military education. On the religious front, she was more relaxed in her personal life but understood the church as a political tool. The nationalization of the church would help fund the State’s treasury. She was more tolerant of other beliefs though. In 1773 she passed the Toleration of All Faiths Edict. This allowed Muslims living within Russia to practice their religion and build mosques. Though she was a little strict with Roman Catholics, she was more lenient to Jesuits. In her personal life, she was a fan of the arts. As someone who had entertained the ideas of The Enlightenment, she did have a correspondence with Voltaire.

PART 4 FINAL YEARS

Catherine the Great old age

In her final years of life, Cathrine grew more and more conservative in her views. In 1785 she issued the Charter of the Nobility. The Charter would grant more power to the Nobility which was a reversal of what she wished to accomplish in her younger years. During the same year, it was declared that the Jewish population was foreign. Taxes would double for the Jews within Russia. In 1794, she declared Jews to have no relation with the State of Russia. Her relationship with her son Paul was poor, and she favored her grandchildren more, in particular, her grandson, Alexander. As she grew older her mind remained active and did not falter. She would see one more war in her life, this time with the Turks or Ottomans. They declared war on Russia in 1787, and the fighting would last four years resulting in a Russian victory and expansion of territory. In the 1790s, there were rebellions from Poland, but the country eventually got annexed out of existence between Russia, and her allies. As time dragged on in the 1790s, Cathrine would grow more and more concerned with her son Paul. She saw him as emotionally unfit, and this might liken back to her late husband. She preferred her grandson Alexander to be her heir, but she did not have time to make the official change. On November 17th, 1796, Cathrine the Great, died of a stroke.

OUTRO

Cathrine was a towering figure of the 18th Century and truly was one of the greats. I found her story fascinating. Again, the HBO miniseries on Cathrine is premiering Monday, October 21st, 2019. I’m not endorsed by HBO. I’ll probably watch the series, and I might give a review of it once it’s finished. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.

CITATIONS

Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Biography of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.” ThoughtCo, Sep. 15, 2019, thoughtco.com/catherine-the-great-p2-3528624.

“Catherine II.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 21 June 2019, https://www.biography.com/royalty/catherine-ii.

Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Catherine the Great”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net. Published 27/02/2010. Last updated 13 February 2018.

“History – Catherine the Great.” BBC, BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/catherine_the_great.shtml.

Boundless. “Boundless World History.” Lumen, https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-worldhistory/chapter/catherine-the-great-and-russia/.

18th Century Podcast Episode 16 Archduchess Maria Theresa

Archduchess Maria Theresa

Listen here: https://anchor.fm/cj123/episodes/18th-Century-Podcast-Episode-16-Archduchess-Maria-Theresa-e5ffcq/a-ao7vas

Summary

In this episode, we will be taking a look at the life of Archduchess Maria Theresa. She was involved in one of the key conflicts of the 18th Century, The War Of Austrian Succession.

Script

INTRO

Welcome back to the 18th Century Podcast. I am your host, Cj. In today’s episode, we will be taking a look at the life of Archduchess Maria Theresa. She was involved in one of the key conflicts of the 18th Century, The War Of Austrian Succession. If you’d like to read the script for this episode and its citations, go to 18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. Let’s begin this episode by taking a look at her early life before she gained the crown.

PART 1 EARLY LIFE

Archduchess Maria Theresa young

Archduchess Maria Theresa was born on May 13th, 1717, in Vienna. She was the eldest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI of the Habsburg dynasty and Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. I have to provide a little context a few years before her birth. Under the law of the time, only male heirs could assume the throne. Charles was concerned he wouldn’t have a male heir. So in 1713, he issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which would allow his eldest daughter to assume the throne if he could not provide a male heir. He would produce a male heir but tragically the heir would die an infant in 1716. When the Pragmatic Sanction was issued most of the Monarchs under Charles accepted it. Maria’s education was typical for that of a noblewoman during the time. However, she was not taught about the matters of Statecraft. In 1736 Maria would marry. The circumstances around her marriage are a bit unusual for the time. Charles VI advisor, Prince Eugene of Savoy, recommended that he should have his daughter married off to someone who held great power. This would be the conventional wisdom of the time. Instead, Charles chose to let his daughter marry someone she loved. Maria had fallen for a French Duke, by the name of Francis Stephen of Lorraine. They would marry in 1736. For the French, this was a problem. If one of their Dukes married into the Hapsburg line, the Hapsburg would have a claim over French territory. To appease the French Monarchy, Duke Francis traded his territory for the province of Tuscany. At this time, Tuscany was considered to be of lesser value. What is truly remarkable is how many children the new royal couple would produce throughout their lives. Maria would give birth to sixteen children, ten of them would survive to adulthood. They had 5 sons and 11 daughters, and one of those daughters was, Marie Antoinette. Then in 1740, Charles VI would die, and the crown would pass to Maria. The War Of Austrian Succession was about to begin.

PART 2 TAKING THE CROWN & THE WAR OF AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION 

Archduchess Maria Theresa and The War Of Austrian Succession

On October 20th, 1740, Charles VI died. At the age of 23, Maria Theresa would ascend the throne, becoming the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, and Archduchess of Austria. What she inherited was a terrible situation. She had no training in running the government, the treasury was practically empty, their army was weak, and the Capitol was seated with unrest. But to her benefit, the duchies of Austria, Bohemia, Netherlands, and Hungary accepted her as their Empress. One of the first major challenges Maria faced was when Frederick the Great invaded Silesia by December. Then the French and Bavarians invaded her to the West. Her main focus for most of the war would be on the Prussians as they were the greater threat, but she could not ignore being invaded from 2 fronts. France, Bavaria, Saxony, and Spain supported a challenger to Maria’s Thorne, Charles Albert, Elector of Bavaria. Frederick the Great overtook Silesia in April of 1741. Maria’s main supporter in the war was the British. Though she had initial failures, there were some successes to come, even though Frederick would hold onto Silesia. During July of 1742, She drove off the French and Bavarians from Bohemia. She went right into the Bavarian territory. Her allies would defeat the French in 1743 at the Battle of Dettingen, in Bavaria. In September of the same year, Savoy would join Maria’s side along with the British, Hanoverians, and Hessians. The French would withdraw to their borders. Fortune would go more in Maria’s favor in January of 1745, when her Bavarian challenger, Charles Albert died. Albert’s son had little interest in continuing the conflict. He would give his support to Maria’s husband if Bavarian lands were returned. This would be made official in December, the Treaty of Dresden was signed. The Imperial Crown would pass to her husband, as the law prevented women from taking it. Though this wouldn’t be the complete end of the war. Fighting between her other foes continued until 1748. In October of 1748, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed. This treaty granted Prussia the right to keep Silesia. It had Maria cede three territories to the second son of the King of Spain but in exchange for her Netherlands territory which was begin held by France. It wasn’t the best situation for Maria by the end of the war, and it didn’t help that she never got a General up to the job. It wasn’t her proudest moment, but the War was over. Now, we’re going to take a short break, and when we come back, we’ll take a look at Maria’s domestic policy, and her later life. We’ll be right back.

PART 3 DOMESTIC POLICY AND LATER LIFE

Archduchess Maria Theresa old

Welcome back. Maria’s domestic policy was good and bad in some respects. Because of the War, she would increase her army’s size by about 200% and she also increased taxes. She combined the Austrian and Bohemian chancelleries. Maria would also go on to create a Supreme Court to uphold justice within her territory. Maria was also a devote Catholic, and she had a distasteful view of Protestants. In 1741 she kicked Jews out of Prague. She was very conservative in her religious views. Two academies would be established under her rule. The first being the Theresian Military Academy in 1752, and in 1754 she established an academy for engineering and science. She would also increase funding to the University of Vienna for medical research. She spent years fortifying her army and was preparing an attack on Prussia in 1756. What she didn’t expect was for Prussia to attack first. Frederick the Great would invade Saxony and this first move began the Seven Years War. The war would conclude in 1763 when Maria signed a treaty, the Treaty of Hubertusburg, recognizing Prussia’s control over most of Silesia. Tragedy would strike in 1765 when her husband perished. She truly loved her husband and grieved over his death for a prolonged period. Upon his death, she appointed her eldest son, Joseph II, as coregent and as Emperor. They didn’t see eye to eye having conflicting views on running the State. She viewed her son’s youth and inexperience as being rash. Joseph II flirted with enlightenment ideas which were more in accordance with her rival, Frederick the Great. She would have his powers limited for the time being. After the death of her husband, she would implement a new penal code to substitute local laws and make the law more standardized across the State. She wanted to centralize control more than she already had, even from the Church even though she was devout in her belief. The Church would become less involved in Secular matters. She would implement censorship among the populace, and lay the groundwork for compulsory education for primary students. Though she continually disagreed with her son, she did allow him to make reforms in the army. In 1767, the Archduchess became infected with Smallpox. Smallpox had been making the rounds around the royal family in the 1760s. Maria was nearly on death’s door. She was given her last rites, but then, recovered. After her recovery, she became a vapid supporter of inoculation. She would set an example for her subjects by making her children get inoculated. In her later years, she focused more so on reforming the law. For example, in 1771 Joseph II and herself issued the Robot Patent, which created regulation for the pay of serfs. She would also go on to abolish witch-burning, torture, and the death penalty. Though it should be noted that the death penalty was later reinstated. In 1772 she spoke out against the first partition of Poland, viewing it as immoral. In 1774 her plans for compulsory education came into fruition. She had a strict policy around decency. She set up a police force designed to enforce her decency policy. This police force was mainly centered in Vienna, and one class of people they would arrest were prostitutes. These women would be sent off to the small eastern villages. Some writers of the time noted, quote, “exceptionally beautiful women” unquote, lived in these tiny villages. Maria would physically become plumper as she grew older. Her health would waver and in 1780, Archduchess Maria Theresa would meet her end in Vienna. In the 650 year rule of the Hapsburg dynasty, she was the only woman who ruled.

OUTRO

Archduchess Maria Theresa was an interesting historical figure to research. What I learned about her, is not exactly what I expected to find. I hope you enjoyed this episode. The script and citations for this episode and all other episodes can be found at https://18thcentury.home.blog that’s 1, 8, t h, century dot home dot blog. Type the numbers don’t spell them. If you’d like to support the show, please share it and leave a review. I’ve been your host Cj, and thank you for listening to this episode of the 18th Century Podcast.

CITATIONS

“Maria Theresa of Austria.” Maria Theresa of Austria – New World Encyclopedia, 14 Aug. 2018, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Maria_Theresa_of_Austria.

Pick, Robert. “Maria Theresa.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Aug. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Maria-Theresa.

“Maria Theresa.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 15 Apr. 2019, https://www.biography.com/activist/maria-theresa.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “War of the Austrian Succession.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 9 Dec. 2018, https://www.britannica.com/event/War-of-the-Austrian-Succession.