Portrait of Catherine Pavlovna of Russia (1788-1819), Grand Duchess (Russian: Великая княжна); Duchess of Oldenburg (1809-1812), Queen consort of Württemberg (1816-1819)
Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia (Russian: Екатерина Павловна; 21 May 1788 – 9 January 1819) later Queen Catharina Pavlovna of Württemberg, was the fourth daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia and Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. She became the Queen of Württemberg upon her marriage to her first cousin Crown Prince William who eventually became King William I of Württemberg in 1816. Ekaterina was born in St. Petersburg and named after her grandmother, Catherine the Great. Described as beautiful and vivacious, she had a happy childhood and her education was carefully supervised by her mother. Ekaterina received the best education and constantly furthered her education through reading new literary publications and personal contacts with various outstanding persons. Known as Katya in the family, she was very close to her siblings, particularly her eldest brother Tsar Alexander I. Throughout her life she would maintain a close relationship with him. It was said that she was Alexander's favorite sister and one of the few persons he loved unconditionally. Although Paul and Maria Feodorovna were initially disappointed at the birth of a fourth daughter, Ekaterina later became her mother's favorite daughter. While the Napoleonic Wars were still in progress, the childless Napoléon I arranged his divorce from his beloved but aged wife Empress Joséphine, in order to marry a princess of high birth, get connected to royalty and beget the much desired heir. While the divorce itself did not happen until 1810, Napoleon was on the lookout for a new wife for some years previous to that, and seriously considered Ekaterina as a candidate - in addition to everything else, such a marriage would also provide strategic advantage by drawing the Russians to his side. The matter was broached or hinted at by the French delegation, at the behest of Talleyrand, at a meeting between them and the Russians at Erfurt in 1808. Ekaterina's family was utterly horrified, and the Dowager Empress immediately arranged a marriage for her daughter to her nephew, Duke George of Oldenburg. Thus, Ekaterina was married to her first cousin Duke George of Oldenburg on 3 August 1809. George was the second son of Peter, Duke of Oldenburg and his wife, Duchess Frederica of Württemberg. The couple resided in Tver, where George had been appointed governor general. Catherine lived a lavish court life and entertained with balls, grand dinners and similar events in the pattern of the Imperial court, to create "a Small Saint Petersburg" in Tver. Although the match had been arranged by their families, Ekaterina was devoted to her husband, and the marriage was harmonious. It was said that he was not handsome but Ekaterina cared for him deeply, and his death in 1812, due to typhoid fever, was a very severe shock to her. They had been married barely three years, and Ekaterina, now the mother of two infant sons, was only 24 years old. While residing in Tver with George, Ekaterina supported N.M. Karamzin to write his later famous historical work. Tsar Alexander adopted reactionary ideas from a patriotic group which she dominated. In 1812, some conspirators who planned to depose Tsar Alexander had the ambitions to put her on the throne as Empress Catherine III. In 1812, she supported the suggestion to summon a national militia, and formed a special regiment of chasseurs which took part in many of the great battles of the era.
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