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On Book Research and the Importance Asking Russian Monarchs for Their ID

Atlin Merrick Book Research History Bones

I've spent all morning reading about Catherine, the Empress of Russia, as I'll be writing biographies for two dozen new and already-existing dioramas created by artist Lee Harper, of History Bones, including one about this eighteenth century monarch.

I’ve enjoyed reading in Catherine’s own (translated) words how she considered herself a knight, honest and loyal, while she saw her husband Peter as difficult, impossible, irritating and, (happily quoting her Empress aunt-in-law), an idiot.

After nearly two decades of miserable marriage to one another, four children, and many more than twice that many extra-marital affairs between them, Peter ascended the throne after Empress Elizabeth’s death, lasting all of six months. After Catherine’s coup against him she went on to reign as Empress of Russia for thirty-four years. Peter died eight days after his wife’s takeover.

I agree with the scholars and translators that reading the words of a person so historically powerful is fascinating. Not least because some parts of her are so very…regular. This person annoyed her, of that one she's fond, and thank god her husband does his own dirty work, looking a fool in front of the Empress.

Rotten Research: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wrong Book

Anywho, I’ve spent all morning reading and cross-checking and thinking, “Holy shit these people killed each other a lot, poor Ivan VI, so wait a minute…who's that Catherine because I…"



Catherine, Empress of Russia…

…was the second of that name.

Instead of Catherine II, I was meant to be writing about Catherine I.


Now, kindly attend:

Catherine the Great, also known as Catherine II, was married to Peter III, grandson of Peter the Great. Peter the Great, also called Peter I, was married to Catherine I, who was succeeded by Peter II.

You might see how I was confused.

What is the point of this? I suppose only that I like to think that like writing, no research is wasted, and I'm always delighted to learn about women in history, especially as so many men seem to believe history reflects only what they themselves do.

(Yeah, next time I'm totally going to check IDs.)

Source: The Memoirs of Catherine the Great, translators Mark Cruse and Hilde Hoogenboom, Modern Library, New York. 2005

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