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Saturday, 29 August 2015
Crimea to Unveil Statue of Empress Catherine the Great
Topic: Catherine II

Catherine II played a great role in Crimea’s development, the peninsula became part of Russia during her rule

A new monument to Empress Catherine the Great who made Crimea part of Russia in 1783 will be unveiled in Simferopol, the peninsula’s capital, next year, the head of the Russian Unity public organization told TASS on Friday.

"The first monument was unveiled in Simferopol in 1890," Yelena Aksenova said. "However, it was completely destroyed in 1919, after the [Bolshevik] revolution."

The new statue may cost between 60 million and 120 million rubles (some $895,000 and $1.8 million), she said, adding that 40 million rubles ($597,000) had already been collected.

Aksenova presented the statue’s project to Dimitri Romanovich Romanov, the oldest relative of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II.

The 89-year old Romanov descendant who visited Crimea with his wife Dorrit supported the idea.

"Catherine II played a great role in Crimea’s development. The peninsula became part of Russia during her rule," he said.

Catherine the Great ruled in 1762-1796 and her reign is considered Russia's golden age.

© ITAR-TASS / Edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 August, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:43 PM EDT
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Thursday, 9 July 2015
On This Day: Empress Catherine II Ascends the Throne
Topic: Catherine II

Portrait of Empress Catherine II. Artist Alexei Antropov, ca. 1765
On July 9 (O.S. June 28), 1762 Catherine II supported by Guard regiments seized political power and became autocratic Empress of Russia.

Catherine II, born Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, Russian Empress (1762-1796) came from a minor North-German prince family. In 1774 she came to Russia accompanied by her mother on the invitation of Empress Elisabeth Petrovna. Having adopted orthodoxy and received the name of Grand Duchess Catherine Alexeevna, she married Grand Duke Peter Feodorovich, future Peter III in 1745.

In December of 1761, after the death of Elizabeth Petrovna, Peter III ascended the throne. Within six months of his rule Peter had made a series of policies which provoked a negative reaction among the officers’ corps: Once on the throne, Peter III reversed his aunt's foreign policy, withdrew Russia from the Seven Years War and struck an alliance with Prussia, Russia's enemy. He set out to wage war against Denmark and gain back his native land of Holstein. The move was seen as a betrayal of Russian war sacrifices and alienated him politically among the military and powerful court cliques. He declared a sequestration of the Russian church property, abolishment of monastery land ownership, etc. Being a worshiper of the Prussian drill, he tried to find support among the Holstein Guard.

Confused and badly thought-out actions of Peter III in the domestic political arena deprived him of the support among the Russian society; his foreign policy was regarded by many as betrayal of the national interests.

Catherine Alexeevna, on the contrary, was very popular among the Russian people; she was a clever and ambitious woman, studied Russian, read a lot, including the works on political history of Western Europe, works of Voltaire, Diderot, and d’Alembert. The Guards wished her to ascend the throne; dignitaries wanted to replace Peter with his son Paul Petrovich (future Emperor Paul I) under Catherine’s regency. Catherine found supporters in the persons of chancellor Alexey Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Field Marshal S. F. Apraksin, Polish diplomat Stanis�‚aw Poniatowski and other. When the Guards’ discontent of the Emperor worsened even more, Catherine decided to take part in a palace coup d'état.

Her allies, led by the Orlov brothers, Potemkin and Khitrovo, started to agitate guards’ formations and finally won them over. The beginning of the revolution was urged by rumours about arrest of one of its participants – Lieutenant Passek.

On the night of June 28 (July 9) Catherine II accompanied with Gregory and Alexei Orlov, arrived from Peterhof to St. Petersburg, to Izmailovsky regiment’s quarters where she was immediately named autocratic empress. From Izmailovsky regiment she went to the quarters of Semenovsky regiment where the same scene was repeated and where soon arrived the servicemen of Preobrazhensky regiment and cavalry guards. Messengers were sent to three regiments which had already taken field against Denmark, to Kronstadt as well as Livonia and Pomerania where were situated large military formations to the help of which Peter III could resort. In Kazan Cathedral the clergy proclaimed Catherine autocratic empress, then in Winter Palace civil and military officials started to swore their allegiance. Realizing the inanity of resistance, the next day Peter III abdicated the throne, was arrested and soon died under obscure conditions.

On July 17 (O.S. July 6), 1762 in Senate was announced the Manifesto signed by Catherine II on her ascension to the throne. On October 3 (O.S. September 22), 1762 Empress was ceremonially crowned in Moscow. 
© Presidential Library. Revised and Edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 09 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:39 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 July 2015 7:45 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 1 April 2015
Monument to Catherine II to Remain in Odessa
Topic: Catherine II

Monument to Empress Catherine II in Odessa, Ukraine
Odessa’s monument to Empress Catherine II, who founded the city some 220 years ago, will remain in place for now, the internet portal Dumskaya reports. 

A local court ruled against an initiative of several NGOs which demanded the monument be removed from Catherine Square. The legal proceedings took three years.

The monument, which was first erected in 1900, dismantled in 1920 and then restored in 2007, has caused ire among Ukrainian nationalists. They complain that the Russian ruler disbanded the Zaporozhian Sich and was a “butcher of the Ukrainian people”.

The opening ceremony for the restored statue in 2007 was accompanied by street violence organized by activist of the Svoboda movement. After facing stiff public resistance, the radicals decided to try their luck in court.

Following the change in power in Kiev last year, attacks on monuments connected with Russia have grown more frequent and destructive. Numerous statues of Vladimir Lenin have been toppled and WWII memorial vandalized. Earlier this week Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case over desecration of the burial sites of victims of fascism and over rehabilitation of Nazism in Ukraine. 
© Russkiy Mir. 01 April, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:30 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 1 April 2015 1:38 PM EDT
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Friday, 6 March 2015
Books of Catherine the Great Return to Alexander Palace
Topic: Catherine II

Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
Tsarskoye Selo has received a donation of antique books by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian, a French eighteenth-century poet and romantic writer.

Mediated by the company Knauf Petroboard and Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation in Nuremberg Mr. Nikolaus Knauf, the donation was made by Mr. Hans Thurn, a German pastor whose granduncle had these books in his collection.

Two of the books were published in 1786 and 1791. Their end leaves have marks proving their origin from Empress Catherine II’s library at the Winter Palace. Although published after Catherine’s death in 1801 and 1803, the other two were bound similarly, probably on the orders of Emperor Alexander I. In 1826, Emperor Nicholas I of Russia moved much of his ancestors’ library from the Winter Palace to the Alexander Palace of Tsarskoye Selo. The library counted nearly 24,000 items and occupied four halls of the palace. Its inventory numbers can be seen on the books by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian too. 

Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
According to Tsarksoye Selo Rare Books Curator Ms. Irina Zaitseva, the library of the Alexander Palace was taken to Germany during World War Two, then partially found in Austria in 1946 and returned to Russia. Only about 7,000 items were reclaimed, one third of the original collection. The donation is precious to the museum, because the books owned personally by Catherine the Great are very scarce.

Donations of items looted during the war began in the 1960s and have increased lately. That is how Tsarskoye Selo has regained over a hundred items. Some of them will comprise our Witnesses Of War exhibition, which will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War and run at the Upper Bathhouse pavilion of the Catherine Park from May 9th, 2015. 
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 06 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:36 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 6 March 2015 6:48 AM EST
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Monday, 17 March 2014
Exhibition - Catherine II: Path to the Throne Opens at Nizhny Novgorod
Now Playing: Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds. Language: Russian
Topic: Catherine II

The exhibition - Catherine II: Path to the Throne runs until May 18th, 2014, at the State Art Museum in Nizhny Novgorod.
A new exhibition Catherine II: Path to the Throne opened on March 6th at the State Art Museum in Nizhny Novgorod. Catherine ascended the throne following a coup d'état and the assassination of her husband, Peter III. She is the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 9 July [O.S. 28 June] 1762 until her death in 1796 at the age of sixty-seven. Her reign was called Russia's golden age.

Born in 1729, at Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg,  she was chosen by Empress Elizabeth as a suitable bride to her nephew, the heir to the Russian throne, Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich - son of her older sister Anna and Duke Karl Friedrich of Holstein. She came to Russia in 1744, converted to the Russian Orthodox faith and took the name Catherine. By her own admission, the next 18 years were the worst years of her life. But that's when Catherine emerged as a person and politician. By the mid 1750s, Catherine, at first played an extremely modest role at the Russian court. She possessed intelligence, firmness and determination, and became an important figure, all of which would benefit her political game. After Elizabeth’s death, Emperor Peter III’s reign was short - only 186 days - during which he managed to antagonize dignitaries, the guard, the army, and the church hierarchy.
The current exhibition tells about the main events in the life of the Grand Duchess Catherine: her origins, upbringing, her arrival in Russia, her acceptance of Orthodoxy, her marriage to the heir to the throne, the birth of a son, as well as a palace coup on June 28 and her coronation at Moscow on September 22, 1762. These years helped shape Catherine’s destiny.

Among the more than 170 exhibits on display, many are exhibited for the first time. They include rare portraits of Catherine II, Peter III and Paul I, her favourites, political allies and opponents; views of cities and architectural drawings, weapons, personal items of daily use, furniture, unique maps and other documents, including letters and diaries.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 March, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:44 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 17 March 2014 2:54 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Monument to Catherine the Great Restored in Irbit
Topic: Catherine II

Melted down by the Bolsheviks 96 years ago, the monument to Catherine the Great has been restored in the Ural town of Irbit
A monument to the Empress Catherine II has been restored in Irbit, a town situated about 203 km from Ekaterinburg in the Sverdlovsk Oblast region of Russia. Founded in 1631 as Irbeyevskaya Sloboda, its name was changed to Irbit in 1662. It was granted official town status by Catherine the Great in 1775 for the town's loyalty to the Empress during the Pugachev Uprising of 1773-74. The following year, she awarded the town its official crest.
The bronze monument was originally installed in Market Square in 1883. It was created by Mikhail Mikeshin,  the outstanding Russian artist and sculptor who also created the Millenium of Russia monument in Veliky Novgorod, as well as the monument to Catherine II which stands in front of the Alexandrinsky Theatre on the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.
On May 1st, 1917 a crowd of rioters pulled down the monument. Shortly after, the Bolsheviks erected a statue of Vladimir Lenin. The bronze statue of the Russian empress was hauled off to the local smelter and melted down.
In 2002, a local historical team conducted archival research, where they found the plans, drawings and photographs of the original monument. The new monument is an exact replica of the original.
It is interesting to note, that the statue of Lenin still stands some 30 metres from the newly restored monument to the Russian empress, "For the time being, the statue of Lenin will remain," said Deputy Mayor Sergei Kulikov.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 August, 2013 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 27 August 2013 12:31 PM EDT
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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Catherine the Great's Hunting Rifle on Exhibit
Topic: Catherine II

Photo Credit: Cody Firearms Museum

The Cody Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming unveiled its display of 64 unique pieces this week, on loan from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The unusual firearms include a .50-caliber hunting rifle by a Russian gun maker named Permajakov dating from the 1700s for Empress Catherine the Great. The rifle is inlaid with her name and Russian symbols and also incorporating a green velvet cheek piece on the rifle’s stock ensuring her comfort while shooting. Additionally, a gold inlaid image of Catherine herself is on the barrel near the breech.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 May, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:30 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 16 May 2013 12:42 PM EDT
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Sunday, 25 March 2012
Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress
Topic: Catherine II


Portrait of Catherine II on her horse Brilliant, by Vigilius Eriksen, after 1762.

© The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress will highlight the truly spectacular collections of one of Russia's most successful rulers. Co-developed by the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and National Museums, Scotland, this major exhibition will only be shown in Scotland.

Catherine the Great (1729-96) was one of the greatest art collectors of all time. Her collecting reflected both the personal and political ambitions of a woman who put Russia on the cultural map of Europe. She accumulated, mainly through purchases and commissions abroad, more than 4,000 paintings, 10,000 drawings and 32,000 engraved gems, as well as medals, jewels and antique sculptures.

Explore Catherine’s reign through her collections, which vividly reflect her own interests and achievements and provide a fascinating glimpse of the dazzling wealth and magnificence of the Imperial Russian court.

Come and experience more than 300 magnificent works collected and commissioned by the Empress from some of the most illustrious European and Russian artists of the 18th century.

See outstanding portraits, spectacular costumes and uniforms, snuffboxes inlaid with precious gems, gold and silver, Ancient Greek and Roman carved cameos depicting figures from biblical stories, mythology and history and many of the finest examples of porcelain, glass, metal and polished stone items ever made in Russia.

Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress
Open: 13 July - 21 October 2012
Venue: Exhibition Gallery 1, Level 3, National Museum of Scotland

© National Museum of Scotland. 25 March, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 26 March 2012 7:19 AM EDT
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Saturday, 9 July 2011
Catherine the Great Takes a Shower
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 30 seconds
Topic: Catherine II

The Monument of Catherine II situated on Ostrovsky Square (formerly Alexandra Square up until 1923) received its annual cleaning this week. The cleaning includes a special soap solution and then washed off with water.

The monument was erected in 1873 from the designs of M.O. Mikeshin and A.M. Opekushin. A base of reddish granite supports a bell-shaped pedestal bearing the figure of the Empress, 13 feet in height, clad in an ermine mantle, and holding the imperial sceptre in her right hand and a wreath in her left. Round the pedestal are nine colossal bronze figures of celebrated favourites of the Empress, including Grigorii Potemkin and Princess E.R. Dashova.

© Royal Russia. 9 July, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:03 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 9 July 2011 3:08 PM EDT
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