Make your own free website on Tripod.com

BackForwardUrsula's History Web

THE MEN IN CATHERINE’S LIFE: 1752 Serge Saltuikov A chamberlain at the young court of the Grand Duke and Duchess, he belonged to one of the noblest and oldest families in Russia. When assigned to this post he had been married for two years to one of the Empress Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting. He was a charming and women found him attractive. Seeing that Catherine was abandoned by her husband, he dared to approach her. After eight years of a virgin marriage, at age twenty-three, she gave herself to Saltuikov. He is most likely the father of Catherine’s first child, Grand Duke Paul, although around the same time Catherine’s husband Peter had for the first time marital relations with her after a surgical intervention. Catherine had fallen hard for this charming rogue, who soon tried to distance himself from her because of fear and also because he grew tired of this clandestine affair. The Empress sent Saltuikov to the Swedish court at the end of September 1754. Catherine was very distressed and consoled herself with reading. Stanislav Poniatowski. England sent a new Ambassador, Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams to St. Petersburg. In his entourage was a charming and cultured young man, Count Stanislav Augustus Poniatowski, a member of Poland’s grand families, the Czartoryskis. Three years than Catherine, he fell in love with the young Grand Duchess and would love her all his life. Catherine was more levelheaded after the affair with her first love, but succumbed to his persistent charm. The affair lasted five years and produced Catherine’s second child, a girl, whom the Empress called Anna in honor of her late sister, the mother of Catherine’s husband. Anna died at age 2 in 1759. Gregory Orlov. Orlov, a hero of the battle of Zorndorf, was one of two Russian officers assigned to accompany an important prisoner of war, the Prussian Count Schwerin to St. Petersburg. In all there were five Orlov brothers in the Imperial Guards, but Gregory was certainly the most charming. He came from a modest background and had little education. Count Schwerin was treated most respectfully and one evening Grand Duke Peter gave a reception for him. Orlov had accompanied Schwerin to the reception and was on guard duty at the palace. Catherine, who just had a painful scene with her husband, rushed in tears to the window and saw Orlov glancing up in admiration. From this moment on she was determined to make his acquaintance. He was not high up enough to move in Imperial circles, so Catherine had to find another way to meet him. On May 16th, 1760 she started her affair with Gregory Orlov which was to last for 13 years. Her second son was born on April 11, 1762. He was called Alexis Bobrinski and was carried out in a beaver skin from a remote part of the palace by trusted friends. (Peter had succeeded his aunt and flaunted his mistress, whom he intended to marry after Catherine had been deposed of.) Orlov was instrumental in helping Catherine seize the throne on June 28, 1762. Catherine would not marry him and by 1773 their relationship was ending. Alexander Vasilchikov. In September 1773 Catherine took Vasilchikov as the new favorite. He was a twenty-eight year old officer, considerably younger than Catherine, even-tempered and shy. Orlov had been sent to peace talks with Sultan Mustapha’s envoys to Foscani in, what is now Romania. Although he told Catherine he wanted to marry his young cousin Catherine Zinovieva before he left, when he heard of the new favorite, he came rushing back to St. Petersburg. Catherine had made Gregory Orlov a Prince of the Empire, now she severed her attachments to Vasilchikov and restored Orlov to his former status. She gave him many gifts, but their sexual relationship had ended. Orlov had given Catherine a 199-carat diamond, which she had mounted on the Imperial sceptre. In 1776 Catherine helped Orlov to marry his first cousin, a marriage not normally permitted by the church. Gregory Potemkin. Potemkin was born 1739. He chose a military career and as quartermaster of the Horse Guards had helped Catherine to the throne in 1762. She had made him a groom-in-waiting and sometime in 1774 she entered into a personal relationship with him. Although lazy, Potemkin had a brilliant mind, which appealed to Catherine. He was cocky, jealous and wrapped up in himself. Yet Catherine adored this man. She turned to him with her problems and he certainly loved Catherine. Some historians think they may have married at the end of 1774 in St. Sampson’s church, in a secret ceremony. There is however no solid proof. Potemkin began to press his political views on Catherine. She listened, but would not let love interfere in ruling the country. They soon quarreled a lot and Catherine began to feel that she and Potemkin were slowly destroying each other. She finally made the decision to send him away, first to the Polish provinces and then to the Black Sea. Potemkin, fully aware that in his absence he was sure to lose his status and authority in court, decided that he would from now on choose Catherine’s favorites. With his agreement she took her next lover. 1776 Peter Zavadovsky. Potemkin left for an inspection tour and in February 1776 Catherine entered into a relationship with Peter Zavadovsky, which lasted only until April. He was dismissed with many gifts. Potemkin had returned to St. Petersburg and lived in a mansion connected to the Imperial Palace. He remained the most important man in her life, although their intimacy had become aloof. At any moment he would have to leave again on business for Catherine. By appointing her favorites in his absence he had unwittingly done great harm to Catherine’s reputation. At one time during these years Catherine had made Potemkin a Prince of the Empire. Simon Zorich. Zorich, handsome, a major in the Hussars, had been made lieutenant colonel and inspector of all light troops, was of Serbian descent. He remained the favorite for eleven months. He began to resent Potemkin’s hold over Catherine and challenged him to a duel. Neither was seriously wounded, but it was the end of Simon Zorich as favorite. Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov. This man belonged to the family that was to produce the famous composer. He too was a talented musician, playing the violin and had a good singing voice. About fifteen months or so later, Catherine found him in the arms of Countess Bruce. She dismissed both of them with generous provisions. Once again, Potemkin chose as a favorite a man he knew he could trust. Alexander Lanskoy. Lanskoy was the youngest of Catherine’s favorites. Catherine almost had a maternal feeling for this young man, as her letters to Grimm show. She was proud of him, praised his love for art and she seemed to be genuinely fond of him. She had at last found someone who loved her. She had experienced many disappointments, but here was a young man who seemed happy and content in her company. Four years went by. Lanskoy went out riding and fell, developed first chest pains from the fall, then contracted diphtheria. He died on June 14, 1784. Catherine was devastated. She buried him in Sophia and built a church over his grave. In Tsarskoe Selo Park she had a funeral urn placed in his memory, inscribed with the words " To my dearest friend." Potemkin waited eight months for Catherine to get over her grief and in February 1785 he suggested a new favorite. Alexander Ermolov. He was thirty years old, tall, blonde and little is know about him. After some disagreement, he was dismissed eighteen months later. Alexander Dmitriev-Mamanov. He was one of Potemkin’s own aides-de-camp, had a good education, spoke French and Italian. He accompanied Catherine on her tour of the Crimea. After four years he admitted to Catherine that he wanted to marry Darya Scherbatova, one of her ladies-in-waiting. Catherine hastily arranged the marriage, as the bride was expecting a child. The young couple was given an estate with peasants, to which they departed to await the birth of the child. Plato Zubov. In the spring of 1789 a young guard’s officer took up duty at Tsarskoe Selo. Later that summer he was appointed personal aide-de-camp to the Empress. Catherine seemed happy with Zubov. She wrote to Grimm that he took good care of her and was good company. He remained with Catherine until the day she died in November 1796. A short Summary: Much has been written about Catherine and some very intelligent people have quoted as many as 300 lovers to me. For this reason alone I have listed the men in her life, as researched by the esteemed authors under " Works cited." In all she had 2 husbands and 11 favorites. The Empress Elizabeth chose the first, Catherine chose five herself and the rest were chosen by Potemkin. Any reasonable person would question these "hundreds of lovers." How could she have found time to look after the business of the nation? I would like to mention here that a man would have been praised and admired for his virility! There is no doubt that Potemkin harmed her reputation with his actions. But she went along with him, did as he wanted, and it was after all her very own business. Her achievements as Empress had very little to do with her personal life. But I find it sad that even today some people take pleasure in belittling such a great lady.


BackForwardUrsula's History Web