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Catherine I

Catherine I, 1683?–1727, czarina of Russia (1725–27). Of Livonian peasant origin, Martha Skavronskaya was a domestic when she was captured (1702) by Russian soldiers. As mistress of Aleksandr D. Menshikov she met Czar Peter I (Peter the Great), who made her his mistress. After her conversion from the Lutheran to the Orthodox Church (when she changed her name from Martha to Catherine), Peter, who had divorced his first wife, married her (1712). In 1724 he had her crowned czarina and joint ruler. Her loyalty and devotion to her difficult husband were remarkable. When Peter died without naming a successor, Menshikov and the imperial guards raised Catherine to the throne. Her policy was dominated by Menshikov. Peter II succeeded her; her daughter Elizabeth became czarina in 1741.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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