DescriptionCatherine the Great Letter Signed "Catherine." One page with integral blank, 7.75" x 12.25", in Russian, Arzamas, June 9, 1767. Here, the empress writes to Frederick II (the Great), King of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg, who she addresses as "most serene and very mightiest king and elector, beloved brother and friend!" after the birth of his great-niece, in full and in translation: "It is with special pleasure that I have been notified by your Royal Majesty's letter of the fortunate deliver of your most beloved niece, the Princess of Prussia, of a healthy princess. My sincere friendship for Your Majesty makes me take a real share in this fortunate event and to extend my friendly congratulations on the increase of your Royal House. As your Royal Majesty decided to invite me to be a sponsor at the christening of the newborn princess, I accept this obligation with pleasure and pray to the Almighty that He may allow Her Serene Highness, my godchild, to grow to the complete satisfaction and joy of the entire Royal House. I remain with friendly esteem Your Royal Majesty's friendly sister and friend." With a second document containing a full, handwritten translation of this letter into German.
What makes the working of this letter so interesting is the history between Catherine and Frederick. Several years earlier, Catherine and Frederick were at odds over the question of Poland. A decade earlier, circa 1752, Frederick, who hated Poles, began to lay the groundwork for a seizure of Poland. Catherine was determined to oppose him. Despite their differences (and the personal unfriendliness between them), the two signed a defensive alliance in 1764 in which Russia gave Prussian control of Silesia in return for support should Russia face war with the Ottomans or Austria. The year after this letter, Catherine went to war with the Ottomans (Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774) with the financial support, to the tune of 300,000 rubles, of Frederick and Prussia.
Catherine II of Russia (1729 - 1796) is often referred to as the epitome of the "enlightened despot". She reigned as empress of Russia from June 28, 1762, until her death. Catherine married the Grand Duke Peter of Russia in 1745, but the marriage proved unsuccessful - due in part to the grand duke's impotence and mental immaturity. In July 1762, the Leib Guard revolted, deposed Peter, who was now emperor, and proclaimed Catherine the ruler of Russia.
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