A LUST FOR POWER
Catherine the Great of Russia
"I do not know how great the lust for power is in other rulers, in me it is not great" (Dixon 23). This quote from Queen Catherine of Russia is an example of the distorted self-image that she portrayed to her subjects. Throughout her reign there are examples of Catherine's attempts to depict herself as a caring monarch that had no aspiration towards power. In truth, Catherine deeply craved power and fortunately she possessed the needed desire, ambition, and circumstance to become an extremely powerful ruler and define herself as an important Russian historical figure. Although Catherine claimed to have known no lust for power, this lust became obvious through certain exploits that she partook in during her time of rule.
Catherine's accession to the throne was clouded in deep suspicion. She came to the throne as a result of a coup against her husband that ended in his death. Many scholars and historians believe that Catherine played a significant role in the death of her husband. Dixon even notes, on page 23, that Catherine's husband was "
strangled by one of her henchmen." And he also mentions, on page 16; "
recent scholars have suggested
that force was always an option open to her when exhortation failed." This shows that Catherine would do anything that she felt necessary to attain power and also to sustain her dominance.
An example of Catherine's contemptible actions to maintain power was how she responded to her heir and his eventual succession to the crown of Russia. Fearing that he would gain some sort of alliance that would help thrust him into rule and leave her powerless, Catherine attempted to illegitimatize his birth and right to rule. It has been argued, "
the empress deliberately used her memoirs to create the (false) impression that her son was illegitimate, thereby implying that his right to the throne was no greater than hers" (Dixon 25). There was no love lost between the mother and...
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