Young Catherine (1991)



Director:     Michael Anderson

Starring:    Julia Ormond (Catherine),  Marthe Keller (Johanna),  Franco Nero (Vorontsov),  Christopher Plummer (Sir Charles),  Vanessa Redgrave (Empress Elizabeth), Maximilian Schell (Frederick the Great),  Mark Frankel (Count Gregory Orlov), Reece Dinsdale (Grand Duke Peter), Anna Kanakis (Countess Vorontsova), John Shrapnel (Archimandrite Todorsky), Hartmut Becker (Catherine's Father), Alexander Kerst (Prussian Ambassador), Laurie Holden (Princess Deshkova), Katharine Schlesinger (Elizabeth Vorontsova), Katya Galitzine (Maria Choglokov).

Made for cable costume drama about Catherine the Great of Russia.



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 


Part I. 

Chapter 1. 

1744, Anhalt-Zerbst, a small German principality.  Young Catherine (aka Sophie) sees a group of riders come in.  She learns that they are officers of the Russian Imperial Guard.  Catherine is dying to know what are the guards here for? 

Later Catherine's mother Johanna goes into see what was the visit about.  Vorontsov tells her that she and Sophie are invited to attend the Empress of Russia.  But why, is the question?  The ruler of Anhalt-Zerbst, then a part of Prussia, tells her to guess.  So Johanna says maybe Sophie will marry the Grand Duke Peter of Russia.  Spot on. 

Sophie looks at the globe of the world and is amazed at how huge Russia is in size.  

A representative from King Frederick, Count Olov, comes to tell Johanna that the King wishes her to speak with him about some pressing matters.  Johanna is flabbergasted that the King wants to speak to her and her alone.  His Majesty wants Johanna to know that she is not to tell anyone of her visit with the King.  Not even her husband is to know. She tells the messenger that she would be honored to meet with King Frederick. 

Prince Christian August of Anhalt-Zerbst asks his wife:  "What if she (Sophie) is rejected?  All that expense for nothing.  And the humiliation."

Father goes to speak with Sophie and tells her that if she weds into the Royal Russian family, he may never see his daughter again. 

The day of departure arrives.  Sophie asks her father where is Count Olov?  He will wait for her after Berlin. 

King Frederick's Palace, Berlin.  Johanna and her husband go in to see Frederick.  And Frederick wants to see Sophie at once.  The parents take the king to see Sophie.  At dinner he has Sophie sit at his right hand.  Later Frederick speaks with Johanna alone.  He says if Sophie married Peter of Russia, they would have two children to control in the best interests of Prussia.  And already Peter loves all things Prussian. 

Catherine's father says goodbye to her.


Chapter 2. 

Sophie and Johanna are told that they can't continue the journey in such foggy weather.  Therefore, they will stay at a peasant's house.  The men will bunk in the stables with the horses.  The women will stay in the house. 

The next day they travel some more.  They finally meet up with the escort and sleigh provided by the Empress of Russia.  The two women switch over to the roomier and fancier sleigh.  Saying goodbye to Sophie is tough on the officer in charge, Count Orlov, of the first leg of the journey, because he is very attracted to Sophie. 

The Royal Palace of St. Pet6ersburg, Russia.  Johanna and Sophie are announced to the Empress Elizabeth (who ruled Russia from 1741 when she seized power in a coup  to her death in 1762).  Both the Empress and her nephew Peter are impressed by Sophie. 

At dinner Peter tells Sophie that he doesn't like the cold and is afraid of the dark.  Peter says he isn't looking forward to being a Tsar.  He says he would much prefer being a general in King Frederick's army.  He also says he doesn't have many friends.  But now he will have a friend in Sophie.  He asks her if she plays hide and seek.  She starts to say she used to play it as a child, but she is cut-off by by Peter saying:  "Good,  Then you know the rules."

Johanna asks Sophie what she thinks of Peter?  He's so nice, but he's also childish. 

Elizabeth tells Johanna that Sophie will have to convert to the Orthodox church.  Johanna tells Sophie and Sophie reacts badly saying that she wants to be able to tell her father that she did not risk her soul for a crown. 


Chapter 3. 

The Orthodox priest tells Empress Elizabeth that Sophie is a willing student, but her father's influence over her is very great.  Elizabeth wants the priest to force her to accept the orthodox faith and that's that, but the priest says Sophie is not a person that can be coerced into a faith.  Elizabeth says she will give the priest one month. 

Sir Charles, the British ambassador to Russia, introduces himself to Sophie.  He is very funny and gets Sophie laughing a lot.  Of Peter, he says:  "He could not rule a straight line, never mind an empire."  He warns her that she is walking on a tight rope and, if she ever needs a "disinterested" friend to talk to, then please call on him. 

A man named Vorontsov wants to prevent Sophie from becoming the bride of Peter.  He is furious when he hears that Sophie has willingly converted to the Orthodox faith.  He says he is going to drive wedges in order to divide and rule.  His wife tells him that Elizabeth is going on one of her pilgrimages and while she is away, they can make changes in Sophie's diet. 

Elizabeth is ready to leave, but she wants an answer from Sophie about the matter of faith.  Sophie says she has decided to willingly accept becoming an Orthodox Christian.  This  makes Elizabeth very happy.  She tells Sophie that when she returns from her trip, she will give the young woman a new name. 

The Russian ambassador tells Johanna to be very watchful because Vorontsov is not going to take this laying down. 

Vorontsov agrees with his wife that it is best to poison Sophie's breakfast food.  This will take about a month.  When Elizabeth returns, she will find a state funeral for Sophie.

A female food handler pours poison into Sophie's coffee. 

Chapter 4.

Peter wants to show Sophie how he can blow up some live cockroaches.  This makes Sophie sick to her stomach.  Peter blows up the cockroaches and Sophie flees the room along with her lady-in-waiting. 

Sophie finds it hard to eat and feels ill.  Her mother insists that she eat because she is losing any good looks that she had.  Mother insists she attend church even when her daughter feels so bad.  Count Orlov sees Sophie enter the cathedral and is worried about her haggard look.  When Johanna arrives, he asks about Sophie's health and silly mom says Sophie is in excellent health.  But during the church ceremony, Sophie faints.  Count Orlov sees her coming back out of the church and now he's extremely concerned about Sophie's health.   

Sophie's mother always thinks about herself first and foremost.  And now she denies to the priest that Sophie is seriously ill.  Johanna is just afraid that Elizabeth will think her daughter is too sickly to marry Peter and that would end this little fairy tale for Johanna.  The priest tells Johanna that she only has one week to see that Sophie's condition improves.  Otherwise, he will be intervening on behalf of Sophie. 

Count Orlov sneaks into Sophie's room to check on her.  He kisses her hand as she sleeps and then leaves the room.  Now he rides as fast as his horse can carry him in order to speak with Empress Elizabeth.  He informs her that Sophie is gravely ill.  Elizabeth tells the Count to summon her carriage.  They will leave at once.  She promotes him from captain to colonel of her Imperial Guard. 

Elizabeth arrives and immediately rushes to the bedside of Sophie.  She demands to know from Johanna why wasn't she told about this illness?  And now she forbids Johanna from entering Sophie's room without her permission.  She tells her:  "Out!" 

Elizabeth calls in Sophie's lady-in-waiting and tells her that either she or the Empress will stay with Sophie at all times.  Furthermore, a stove will be brought in and all the food will be prepared by them for Sophie.

Vorontsov complains:  "If only we had another week."  Sophie is on the mend. 

Peter finally visits Sophie saying that he hates sick people.  Did they bleed her?  About six times.  Peter says:  "I can't stand blood."

Sophie is now walking around.  Sir Charles tells her that people say that Count Orlov saved her life.  She says she wants to thank him in person, but Sir Charles says that would start too many ugly rumors flying.  He says he has a bet on what Sophie's new name will be.  Sophie asks him what he thinks her new name will be?  He answers:  "Well, the Empress' mother, of course.  Catherine."

King Frederick's Palace.  Berlin.  Frederick says it's a catastrophe.  17,000 soldiers deserted.  The Austrians are attacking from the south.  Defeat is everywhere. 

Elizabeth confronts Johanna saying that she works as a spy against her.  Her latest letter was stopped at the border.  She tells Johanna that she is to leave St. Petersburg within one hour.  She is banished from Russia. 

Now Elizabeth showers affection on Sophie.   She is especially pleased when Sophie tells her that she knows that Elizabeth's mother's name was Catherine. 

Sophie feels a bit lost without her mother.  Peter tells her that her mother is gone.  She was silly not to realize that the Empress knows everything.  Sophie replies:  "She's my mother."  Peter says he can't even remember his mother.  Nevertheless, he wants her to come to his room before dinner and see the present he has for her. 

Sophie's surprise present is a bunch of dolls in military outfit lined up.  Peter gives her a pistol and says when he says fire, she is to actually fire at the toy soldiers.  She fires, but the pistol just goes click.  At the same time Peter flips a lever and all the soldiers fall down in neat rows. 

Catherine complains to her lady in waiting that Peter has never even touch her hand.  Her companion says that Peter is very young.  But Catherine worries that maybe his youth is not the reason for his lack of interest in her. 

The priests tells Catherine that Peter is struck down by an illness.  He has small pox.  Catherine tries to run to see Peter but she is not allowed in to see him.  Elizabeth says the outcome is all in God's hands and they must wait for His decision.   

Catherine complains to Sir Charles that for two months hardly anyone has spoken to her.  He tells her if Peter dies, she will never be more than a footnote in history. But, if he lives, she will be surrounded by newly found friends who will fawn all over her. 


Chapter 5.

Catherine is told by the women of the court that Grand Duke Peter has recovered.  She goes in to see Peter and she is shocked at how terrible he looks.  His face and head are disfigured by pox lesions.  This really affects Peter's whole view of the world.  Now he has become even more cynical and cruel.  And now Catherine says shy is afraid of him.  His cruelty is shown in the delight he takes in holding a captured rat and torturing it over an open flame.  He is being cruel to Catherine also as he knows she hates to see animals suffering. 

The high priest has heard about the incident and how Catherine wants to return to her home.  The priest tells her that Peter may be a bit crazy, but Catherine has now proven that she has a wise head.  Russia will be eternally grateful if she remains at the side of the future Tsar.

Today is the wedding day of Peter and Catherine. 


Chapter 6. 

On the wedding night, Peter wants to humiliate Catherine by bringing in a group of soldiers in to watch Peter in bed with Catherine.  Catherine asks the men if they have no shame, so the men leave.  Once they have gone, she is going to yell at Peter, but he has already fallen to sleep. 

On another night Peter plays with his toy soldiers, while Catherine reads. He cuts off the head of one of his toy soldiers, but in doing so, nicks himself with the knife.  He flips out about the blood, but Catherine is there to bandage the cut.  She playfully tells him that he would make a fine soldier and this makes him so mad that he slaps Catherine hard across the face.  He says he would make a fine general.  He leaves the room. 

A big ball is held.  The Prussian ambassador to Russia comes over to her to tell her that Frederick sends his best wishes for her on her marriage and that if she should need any assistance from him, he is ready to serve her.  Catherine complains that Frederick has done enough for her or to her.  She says because Frederick was using her mother as a spy, her mother got tossed out of Russia and she can no longer see her.  She also says that the ambassador should tell his sovereign that she is no longer Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, but the Grand Duchess Catherine of all the Russias and wife to Grand Duke Peter.  The ambassador is somewhat shocked at this new attitude of the Grand Duchess. 

Empress Elizabeth is mad at Catherine for not yet becoming pregnant.  Catherine says she has tried, but the Empress says it's clear that she hasn't tried.  There must be something wrong with her, because the court buzzes with the talk of the many conquests of the Grand Duke.  The Empress sends for her personal physician to examine Catherine.  When the doctor is finished, he reports to the Empress that Catherine is still a virgin. Elizabeth is dumb founded over the news. 



Part II.


Chapter 1.

Count Orlov speaks with Empress Elizabeth.  Elizabeth has forced Peter and Catherine to stay in their room and she wants Count Orlov to report back to his Empress what takes place in the room.  Count Orlov is, above all, to be very discreet. 

Peter is very upset about being cooped up like rabbits and told what to do.  Catherine reminds him him that they have been married for two years.  He stops her there saying she is not to tell him what to do.  He keeps shouting at her until she shouts at him:  "What do you want?"   Peter starts crying saying:  "I want my friends."

The woman who watches over the Royal couple remarks to Catherine that it's been a long time now.  Catherine says she just doesn't know what to do.  The woman says:  "There are other men.  I can help.  You take a lover.  You become pregnant.  Everyone is happy."

Catherine speaks with Sir Charles and he says he agrees that Catherine should take a lover.  But who?  Catherine says she has already decided that. 

She talks with Count Orlov.  He really wants to do this, but he has reservations.  Catherine is going to have to assure him that everything will come out right in the end.  She tells him:  "I want you to love me."   They kiss. 

The next day Catherine tells her lady-in-waiting what happened.  The woman tells Catherine that she looks different.  Catherine replies:  "I am different.  Everything is different."

Catherine and Gregory meet again in secret.  Catherine asks that if she gets pregnant, can they still go on meeting?  Gregory says for awhile. 

Catherine has a feeling that she might be pregnant.    She sends a note over to tell Sir Charles about the good news.  At the time he gets the note, Sir Charles is playing cards with three other men.  He reads the message and bangs on the table hard to express his glee.  One of the card players is the doctor who examines Peter.  He tells the guys that Peter has a sexual impediment.  He has a foreskin that is just too tight.  He doubts that Peter could have sexual intercourse.  The problem could be fixed with a small operation, but the man is so afraid of blood that he can't undergo even a simple procedure. 

Sir Charles talks with Catherine.  He says he can't believe that in two and a half years the Grand Duke has never consummated the marriage.   He tells Catherine that Peter must have the necessary operation and must consummate the marriage, even it it's only once. 

So Count Orlov and his soldiers are going to get the Grand Duke so drunk that he will be out of it and the doctor can complete the necessary operation on Peter.  Orlov sets it up that Peter can give orders to the soldiers.  This thrills Peter and he gives the order to fire.  The men are inside, so they they still fire their weapons into the ceiling.   Now Orlov asks if he will have some drinks with the men?  Again Peter is simply thrilled. 

Orlov is right there to fill up Peter's glass with alcohol.  He passes out.  Orlov and another man rush him over to a room where the doctor awaits his patient.  The operation takes less than a minute.  Orlov and others now carry Peter to his room with Catherine there.  They throw Peter onto his bed.  Orlov tells Catherine that if he could, he would kill the Grand Duke, because he can't stand the thought of Peter touching Catherine.


Chapter 2. 

Orlov and Catherine go for a walk.  She again tells Orlov that Peter hates her.  But she has a plan.  If he doesn't like her as a queen, then she will become someone that he does like.  The next time that Peter is with his military friends, Catherine dresses up as a woman soldier and asks Peter for permission to join his forces.  Peter is very impressed with how good she looks in a uniform. He promotes her to a captain,.  Indeed, he is so impressed that he dismisses all his soldier friends so he can thoroughly examine his new captain. 

Now he asks her if she can take discipline?  After all, every soldier must be disciplined.  He takes the broad-side of a sword and smacks her twice across the back.  Christina takes the pain.  This turns Peter on even more.  He  now starts going after her like he wants to eat her. 

Empress Elizabeth is so delighted to hear that the marriage has been consummated.  She presents Catherine with a new necklace and kisses her nephew three times. 

Catherine meets with Gregory again.  Orlov has bad news.  He has been posted back to his old station.  It's a promotion for him.  One of Gregory's brothers comes in to tell Gregory that it looks like he may have been followed.  The couple hugs and kisses.  Catherine leaves. 

Catherine gives birth to a boy and Elizabeth claps and laughs at the birth.  She tells Catherine that she is delighted.  Then Catherine suddenly finds herself all alone in the birthing room.

A woman brings her some broth and Catherine says she wants to see her son.  The woman starts to get upset saying that the child is with the Empress Elizabeth and she expressly forbids Catherine to see her child. 

Vorontsov, having failed with Catherine, now switches his attentions to fooling Peter. 

Catherine begs Elizabeth to see her son.  Elizabeth says that with all the advantages the child Paul has, he has no need of his mother.  Elizabeth is raising Paul as her own son. 

Vorontsov sweet talks Peter by saying he will speak to the Empress about putting Peter in charge of the Imperial Guard.  Elizabeth says alight, but it can be no more than one regiment and the cost must be taken from the Grand Duke's purse. 

When Peter sees his regiment marching to their barracks, he feels he has accomplished his major wish in life. 

Catherine says that she in only allowed to see her own son once or twice a year.  Sir Charles agrees that she's in a tough spot.  He gives her some advice:  keep all her friends in the army and never turn her back on the Vorontsovs. 


Chapter 3. 

Four years later.  Catherine only gets a few minutes to talks with her son, but at least he does know that Catherine is his mother. 

Vorontsov's wife tells her husband that Catherine gave little Paul an Imperial Guard uniform.  The husband says that Peter is making a fool of himself as he fawns over his regiment.  Vorontsov's new plan is to find someone who can replace Catherine.  He is thinking of his niece.  She is so much the tom boy that Peter will adore her. 

Frederick talks to his staff.   He had  hopes for Catherine or Peter to be a close ally, but now Catherine is more Russian than a Cossack and Peter has gone crazy.  Frederick fears that Russia is planning to attack Prussia.  So he orders a mobilization of the Grand Army. 

Catherine tells one of the Orlov brothers that all her mail is examined before she gets it.  The news is that Prussia is mobilizing its army. 

Vorontsov presents his niece Elizabeth to Peter.  Peter says Elizabeth can be a lady-in-waiting to his wife.  It's an easy job, he says, because Catherine is hardly ever here.  Vorontsov pushes the niece close to Peter and then leaves.  Peter notices that Elizabeth limps and asks her why?  "I broke my leg mounting a guardsman."  And she likes alcohol and soldiers.  Peter is thrilled.  He wants to introduce her to his regiment. 

Catherine catches Peter with Elizabeth.  She throws some clothing at Elizabeth and tells her to get out.  Peter slaps Catherine saying that he knows that Catherine does the same in her bed.  He adds that once he is emperor, he will do whatever he wants to the country and to Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth tells her lady-in-waiting, Princess Deshkova:  I have not come all this way and married that animal to see this country . . . "

Vorontsov tells Peter that Catherine has declared war on Prussia.  Peter is caught totally off guard and he asks Vorontsov why wasn't he consulted?  Vorontsov tells Peter that this war will be to Peter's advantage.  If Peter loses, he can, as Frederick's friend. make a good peace, and if he loses, he will be the leader of a victorious army. 

British Embassy, St. Petersburg.  Catherine visits Sir Charles.  He says he has to leave because England is Prussia's ally. As a parting gift, Sir Charles has deposited 100,000 rubles in Catherine's name in Rothschild's bank.  He also tells her that she must keep the Guard here in the city.  Furthermore, he believes that Catherine will be able to take Russia out of the Dark Ages.  "I have been so proud to call you my friend", says Sir Charles.  Catherine embraces Sir Charles.  Now he tells her to leave by the back way. 


Chapter 4.

When Orlov learns of the war he says to himself that Catherine is a genius.  He goes to see her.  They hug and kiss.  After sex, Catherine tells Orlov that as long as Empress Elizabeth is alive, Peter can't touch her. 

At a private residence of one of the Orlov brothers, Orlov is told that Field Marshal Stepan Fedorovich Apraksin has been arrested.  And the Empress is searching for Catherine. 

Empress Elizabeth refers to Catherine as a traitor.  Catherine asks if it's treason to protect the Imperial Family?  She then says that Peter is planning to marry that woman Elizabeth and then he would have her child Paul killed.  And now says she, she would like to go home to be with her parents.  Elizabeth thinks about what Catherine said and now says:  "I've misjudged you."  She tells Catherine she can now see Paul as much as she wishes. 

The Russians have the Prussian on the run.  Frederick has to retreat. 

Elizabeth is dying.  She tells Peter and Catherine to rule with justice and mercy.  Peter is stand-offish, but Catherine stays close to her.  The empress dies. 

Peter is now even closer to becoming the Tsar.  Peter is giddy with glee and he looks like a fool as his aunt has just died.  He starts wearing a Prussian uniform.  He also tells Vorontsov that he must give the order to withdraw all Russian forces back into Russia and out of Prussia.   Vorontsov protests but Peter threatens to take away from him his position as chancellor. 


Chapter 5. 

The funeral for Elizabeth is held. 

The Tsar to be has a show-down with Catherine at the imperial dinner.  He scolds for wearing black.  Catherine stands up to him and again Peter looks childish. 

Catherine conspires with the Orlovs and the high priest to take action against Peter.  They want to move against him before he is crowned Tsar.  All they need is two regiments of the three regiments of Imperial Guards.  That's enough to take power.  At about the same time, Vorontsov is plotting with his niece Elizabeth.  He wants her to get Peter and his guards off to Peterhof.  And make sure that Catherine goes with him. 

Vorontsov gets the Countess to give him the name of the man who Catherine was with when she was supposedly in confinement with Peter.  He has Orlov arrested immediately. 

The other three Orlov brothers learns of the arrest of their brother Gregory.  The brother Alexis says he is going to Peterhof to get the new Empress of Russia.  Catherine rides horseback to her carriage and switches over to it.  Princess Deshkova has Catherine's military uniform for her to put on. 

Catherine speaks to the Imperial Guard.  She downgrades Peter as a leader and the men now all swear their allegiance to Catherine.  Orlov is let out of prison

The third regiment blocks the first two regiments under Catherine. Catherine rides up to speak to the troops of the third regiment.  Vorontsov gives the order to fire, but no one fires.  Instead they lay down their arms and go over to join Catherine and her forces. 

Vorontsov rides to see Peter.  Peter wants to negotiate with Catherine so they might co-rule.  Vorontsov rejects this idea and tells Peter to step up and take command.  He says this rebellion can be crushed.  Peter says he has decided to do as Vorontsov says.  Vorontsov says they must go to Kronstad where they know nothing yet of the revolt. 

Gregory Orlov says they must control the fleet and garrison of Kronstad.  Peter is only a few miles from Kronstad.  And with Peter are his Holstein Guards.  Gregory tells his brother to get ten volunteers together and they will try to get to Peter before Peter gets to Kronstad (which is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, 30 kilometers (19 mi) west of Saint Petersburg proper near the head of the Gulf of Finland).

Catherine and her son Paul appear at a balcony to show the people that they are both alive.


Chapter 6. 

Port of Kronstadt.  Peter arrives at the fortress.  Peter announces himself and the fort commander declares for Catherine II of Russia.  A cannon is fired at the boat carrying the Holstein guards. 

Catherine rides at the head of her troops speeding to Kronstadt. 

Vorontsov says he is going to ride to see Frederick of Prussia.  In two weeks time Frederick can have his troops here. 

Gregory brings the news that Kronstadt belongs to Catherine and Peter's men have moved down the coast.  Catherine says they must have Peter in their hands before Frederick can decide to march to Russia with his troops.  But she does not want her husband killed.

The high priest tells the Orlovs that they have to kill Peter, regardless of what Catherine says.  Gregory says he will be the one to kill Peter. 

Messengers arrive to say that Peter wants to meet with Catherine to avoid bloodshed.  Gregory recommends the palace at Peterhof as a meeting place. 

Peter arrives for the meeting.  He says they will negotiate tomorrow morning.

Orlov tells Catherine that he has to go, but he does not trust Peter and wants her to sleep in another room.

Orlov comes to Catherine and says that she is free and her crown is safe.  Peter is dead.  Orlov killed him.  Catherine asks:  "What have you done to us?"  She says that no one should know the truth of Peter's death.  Gregory says he must go away. 

Vorontsov arrives to speak with Frederick.  He can hear Frederick in the other room telling his aide to send Vorontsov away.  The Emperor is dead already and he is not going to intervene in the internal affairs of Russia.  He says the girl Catherine has won the day.  Catherine is crowned the Empress of Russia. 

Olov stays at his brother's place. 



This is the story of the young Princess Sophie winning the throne of Russia, while involved in a lot of intrigue and backstabbing. 15 year-old German princess Sophie (later Catherine) travels to Russia to visit the Empress Elizabeth of Russia and her nephew, the Grand Duke Peter, sole heir to the Russian throne, for the purpose of arranging a marriage of the young people.

At times what Catherine has to put up with seems like black humor, but it was all too real.  Peter was a strange man.  Actually, he was more like a boy.  And he had just way too many phobias.  He even had a high social anxiety personality and did not like to see a lot of new people.  Moreover, he was cruel and sadistic with a liking of hurting living things, including Catherine.  He would not have made a good Emperor of all the Russias. 

Along Catherine's journey, she falls in love with her handsome escort, Count Orlov, a soldier in Empress Elizabeth's Imperial Army.  But Sophie likes the idea of becoming empress of Russia. Were it so easy: she is poisoned, has her name changed to Catherine, and suffers many trails with her mentally ill and cruel husband.

When the Russian Empress dies, Peter is about to becomes Emperor of Russia.  To do this he need to get rid of Catherine. But it doesn't quite turn out that way.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

Catherine II, Empress of Russia. She was to have two husbands and at least eleven lovers.

1729 -- born April 21, Catherine was christened Sophia Augusta Petrovna in Strettin, Poland, (then Germany) into the family of Prince Christian August of Anhalt-Zerbst.

1730-54 – Sultan Mahmud I of the Ottoman Empire.

1744 -- Sophie and her mother, Johanna, arrive in Moscow to meet Empress Elizabeth on February 9. Sophie embraces the Orthodox religion and becomes Catherine Alexeyevna.

1745 -- she marries Grand Duke Peter Feodorovich of Holstein, heir to the Russian throne.

1752 --  Catherine takes a lover, Serge Saltykov, a Russian officer.

1754  --   Catharine gives birth to the future Emperor Paul I of Russia.  The child was sired by her lover, Count Serge Saltykov.

1754-57 – Sultan Osman III.s

1757-74 – Sultan Mustafa III.

1756  --  Seven Years' War begins as a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time.

1757  --  Empress Elizabeth enters into an alliance with France and Austria against Prussia. On 17 May the Russian army, 85,000 strong, advanced against Königsberg.

1757 (summer)  --  Russia defeats Prussia.  The Russians had invaded East Prussia and defeated a smaller Prussian force in the fiercely contested Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf.  The Russian forces were under Field Marshal Stepan Fedorovich Apraksin.

1757 (December)  --  Catherine gives birth to Anna Petrovna, fathered by Catherine's lover, the future King Stanislaus II of Poland.

1760 -- another lover, this one the Russian hero Gregory Orlov.

1761  -- Empress of Russia dies and Peter III succeeds to the throne.

1761 --  Elizabeth Alexandrovna Alexeeva born to Catherine and fathered by Count Grigory Grigoryevic

1762  --  Count Alexei Grigorievich Bobrinsky born to Catherine and fathered by Orlov.

1762  --  July 9, Catherine, with the Imperial Guards, overthrows her husband and is placed on the throne. Peter III is killed by the Orlovs and others while they were holding him as prisoner.

She continues Peter the Great's (1682-1725) reforms of the Russian state, further increasing central control over the provinces. Her rule was one of the most prosperous periods of the Russian Empire.

1763 --  Russia invades Lithuania.

1768 -- war with Turkey.

1771  -- Russia takes the Crimean Peninsula.

1772  -- with Prussia and Austria, divides Poland.

1773  -- Orlov out of favor.

1774-89 – Sultan Abdülhamid I.

1774  --  Catherine may have married Russian war hero Potemkin at the end of 1774 in St. Sampson’s church, in a secret ceremony.

1776  --  after Potemkin leaves for an inspection tour, in January Catherine begins a relationship with Peter Zavadovsky, which lasts only until April of  1776. Potemkin returns to St. Petersburg and lives in a mansion connected to the Imperial Palace, remaining Catherine's favorite and a continuing influence on her.  He chose her lovers.

1783 --  Potemkin annexes Crimea from Turkey.   Death of Orlov.

1787 --  Turkey declares war on Russia.

1789 -- She fancied herself an intellectual of the Enlightenment, but with the French Revolution she turned against what she considered the dangerous books of the Enlightenment and undoes many of her liberal reforms.

1789-1807 – Sultan Selim III.

1791  --  Peace Treaty of Jassy signed between Turkey and Russia.

1793  -- Second Partition of Poland.

1795 --  Third Partition of Poland.

1796 -- Catherine dies and her son Paul I succeeds her.

1796–1801  --  reign of Paul I.

1801–1825  --  reign of Alexander I. 

1825–1855  --  reign of Nicholas I. 

1855–1881  --  reign of Alexander II.

1881–1894  --  reign of Alexander III.

1894-1917  --  reign of Nicholas II.

1917  --  Russian Revolution.


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