29 March, 2012

Babes in History Part 2 - Catherine the Great

Totally bad-ass.
An unfortunate marriage

Catherine the Great was one of the all-time bad-ass babes. Queen of Russia, she was determined, clever and not averse to bedroomly high jinks. However, when we pick up the story, poor Catherine was on rather a sticky wicket.  Her husband, Peter 3 of Russia, was an a man of insufferable habits, who beat his dogs cruelly, and alternated between fits of violent rage and sulky petulance.  He would pace her room for hours, talking inane bollocks to which she was expected to politely reply.  I've been on dates like that, so I feel her pain.  He was a renowned idiot, and his hobbies included playing with toy soldiers in bed (making the appropriate cannon noises), and tossing wine on the footmen.  Perhaps his only saving grace is that he didn't have a clue how to make sexy times, and he and our heroine remained as pure as the driven snow for the first eight years of their marriage.
Kinda funny lookin'

As always, the pressing need for an heir caused all sorts of drama.  Suspecting, after eight childless years, that Peter was shooting blanks, his mamma ordered that he be made to take a bath, and while there, be surreptitiously examined for "abnormalities".  Peter was outraged, he'd never had a bath before, and was damned if he'd have one now.  As it turns out, he managed to avoid them his entire life.  Instead, they circumcised him, which medicos of the day thought might fix the problem. One wonders if, had he understood the consequences, he might have just opted for the tub.

Getting down to business

Unfortunately, circumcision, while purporting to cure any number of ills, will not turn an imbecile into a lothario.  So Catherine did what any sensible girl would do.  She took a lover.  Actually, she took several.  When she finally got knocked up, she managed to convince Peter that it was his.  He really was an idiot.

Ultimately, As happens to all monarchs of breathtaking incompetence, he was overthrown. Not by a neighbouring prince, not by a military dictator, oh no.  He was overthrown by Catherine.

New world order

Catherine busted his chops but good.  With an army thoroughly sick of Peter's inability to do pretty much anything, they got behind our girl and unceremoniously booted him out of office. Rumour has it he was trundled off to exile and quietly assassinated. Catherine took the reins of one of the most successful empires in the history of the world, and handled herself with aplomb.  She handled quite a few others with aplomb too, and kept a happy stable of bedfellows for the entirety of her 32 year rein.  She'd seduce some handsome, hapless young fellow, and shower him with honours and gifts until he lost her interest.  Then she'd take another one.  Such abandon makes my heart sing.  She managed a rebellion by the serfs, was both practical and decisive in her government, and grew fat and happy.  

Contrary to the mythology, which maligns her by suggesting she was killed engaging in an inappropriate liaison with a horse, she died very peacefully at the age of 67 after a really good night's sleep. What a gal.

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