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Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman By Massie, Robert K.

Updated: Oct 22, 2020


About the Book

This book is about a princess, Sophia Augusta Fredericka who was born into a minor German nobility and was imported to Russia at the age of 14 to marry Peter III, the future tsar. Sophia who later became Catherine in Russia had a volatile relationship with the reigning Russian monarch, Empress Elizabeth, a relationship looked better in relation to her husband, Peter III, an immature boy of few gifts who treated Catherine horribly. 9 years of being married, Catherine hadn’t birthed the heir to the throne. this was as a result of Peter’s inability to consummate the marriage which stemmed from Peter’s phimosis, a condition marked by a painful tightening of the foreskin.


Later, Empress Elizabeth died and Peter took over the throne but couldn’t perform his duties. Six months into his reign, an alienated Imperial Guard revolted and proclaimed Catherine the Empress. Catherine then had her husband arrested. 8 days after being arrested, he was killed.


Catherine then took over the throne and ruled it meticulously. History has it that, she ruled for 34 years and during her reign, she worked to modernize Russia, improve education specifically, politics, arts and science.


What I Love About It

  1. The book is engaging, elegant and graceful.

  2. The book does not simply focus on the subject but gives ample time to all the people in his subject’s life.


Quotes to Remember

  1. One does not do the best there is. One does the best they can”

  2. “Praise loudly, Blame softy”

  3. “Be a person who loves the why of things”

How I Can Apply Its Content to my Life

  1. She was intellectual, courageous and an opportunist with a great sense of timing. Teaches us to have courage in all our doings.

  2. She faced hurdles and impediments throughout her life, but always found a way to succeed. Teaches us to be persistent and positive


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