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March 19 , 2009

Catherine the Great


When Catherine II died in St Petersburg in 1796 the world sensed the loss of the most celebrated monarch of Europe - something no one would have predicted at the birth sixty-seven years before of an obscure German princess, Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, later married off to the pathetic heir to the Russian throne. There were few greater transformations of fortunes in history.

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Working for others to earn a salary may be a comforting adventure at the initial stage of one’s work life; but ultimately, it could mean the worst form of slavery. As someone rightly puts it, devoting your time, skills and energy to another man to earn a fixed income is bondage of a high order. It simply means you have transferred the…

Sophie/Catherine had come to rule in her own right over the largest state in existence since the fall of the Roman Empire. She was branded both a usurper and an assassin when she seized power from her wretched husband in 1762. Yet she survived the initial succession crisis, and went on to occupy the Russian throne for thirty-four years. In the process, she turned her new empire from peripheral pariah to European great power.

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