Biography of Zarina de Rusia Catalina I (ca. 1684-1727)

Tsarina of Russia, Jakobstadt (Jekabpils, Latvia today)-born 15 April 1684 and died at Petersburgo May 17, 1727. Its original name was Marta Skavronska, and was the daughter of farmers of Lithuanian origin, Samuel Skavronski and Dorotea Hahn.

An orphan, he/she was seventeen years old and worked as a nanny for a Lutheran pastor called Gluck in the Prussian city of Marienburg (Malbork, Poland today) when it was abducted around 1700 during a Russian attack. For a time he/she was lover of general Sheremetiev, then the powerful Alejandro Menshikov. Last few months met Tsar Pedro I, he/she liked, being since then his companion (Pedro had repudiated in 1698 to his wife, Eudokia). Little graceful in reality (brunette, plump body) and vulgar ways, it was however able to participate in the male diversions of Pedro I and affectionate with him in spite of his strong character, which ended by gaining their trust. It became the Orthodox faith and changed its name to the Catherine. He/She had several children with him, marrying secretly in 1707. In 1709 was born his daughter Isabel, who later would be zarina, followed by many others (twelve in total).

In 1711, after the disastrous Russian defeat by the Turks in the Prut River (Romania), had an important role to sustain emotionally to her husband, who in gratitude public married her the following year. Catherine had a lavish Palace in Petersburgo, the new capital raised from nothing by the Tsar. In 1724, shortly before the death of her husband, he/she was chosen by this as its successor, since all the sons both died in childhood (and the only son of Pedro I, with his first wife, Alejo, had been sentenced to death by the Tsar himself in 1718, for alleged treason). Popular scandal was huge, but there were no protests, and on 7 May of that year was crowned with great luxury at the Moscow Cathedral of the assumption.

Before the death of Pedro fell in disgrace, together with Alejandro Menshikov, have favored a such Guillermo Bishop finally both were forgiven, and if at some point the Tsar thought of naming a new heir, his death 8 February 1725 prevented manifest it. The Russian Senate, accepting the last known decision of Pedro I, recognized the Catalina I as new zarina, at the expense of Pedro, son of Alexios. He/She reigned for only two years, during which made large expenses in their whims, neglecting the tasks of Government, for which delegated to different personalities who also knew how to be at the height of the circumstances (Menshikov was one of the most influential). He/She became ill and died precisely because of his excesses, 43 years of age. Happen, now yes, the grandson of Pedro the great, Pedro II, who also pass away prematurely shortly after.


COWLES, V. The Romanovs. (Barcelona, Noguer: 1975).

LONGWORTH, Ph. The three empresses: Catherine I, Anne, and Elizabeth of Russia. (New York, Rinehart and Winston: 1973).

MASSIE, R.K. Pedro the great: his life and his world. (Madrid, Alianza Editorial: 1987).

WARNES, D. Chronicle of the Russian Tsars. (London, Thames-Hudson: 1999).

Links on the Internet ; Page with genealogical data of Catherine I (in French). ; Page with information about the Romanovs (in English). ; Page with various information and images on the Romanov (in Russian).