Catherine: The Portrait of an Empress

By Gina Kaus; June Head | Go to book overview

VII
The Grand Duke and the grand Duchess

THE Russian grand duke is very incautious in his speech, lives in a state of enmity with the empress, is held in little respect, indeed in disrespect, by his people, and is too much taken up with his Duchy of Holstein," wrote Frederick II, the man whom Peter idolized to such an extent that, although he was heir to the Russian throne, he once said that he would think himself fortunate to be allowed to serve as a sergeant under Frederick. This harsh criticism from his hero seems all the harder if one considers the circumstances in which it was uttered. Europe was buzzing with political dissensions which were keeping Frederick, particularly, in a state of uneasy suspense: a new war with Austria threatened; France, who was in alliance with Prussia, was at loggerheads with England over the question of the American colonies, and it seemed impossible that any peaceful diplomatic solution could be arrived at; and all Frederick's efforts to come to an understanding with Russia had failed. Elizabeth displayed an unconquerable dislike of the Prussian king, who was informed by his spies that secret alliances had already been made between Russia, Austria, and Poland; Bestuzhev refused the most alluring bribes though the miserly Frederick had brought himself to make offers which even in free-handed Russia represented a considerable sum of pocket money; and though he knew that Elizabeth's health was failing, Frederick valued the admiration of her appointed successor so lightly that he said: "I am his Dulcinea. He has never seen me and has fallen in love with me, like Don

-128-

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Catherine: The Portrait of an Empress
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • I - Just an Ordinary Person 3
  • II - The Bridal Journey 25
  • III - Elizabeth 45
  • IV - All Haste 67
  • V - Loneliness 86
  • VI - A Child, Two Mothers, and No Father 113
  • VII - The Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess 128
  • VIII - The Die is Cast 175
  • IX - The Ruler 248
  • X - Ivan 275
  • XI - The Masks of Peter III 290
  • XII - Potemkin, or the Inspired Cyclops 308
  • XIII - Catherine the Invincible 356
  • Index 379
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