Grigory Potemkin

Apr 03, 2015


Potemkin was the most influential man during the second half of Catherine the Great’s reign. He was her secret husband and political partner until his death.

Lived: 1739-1791.
Potemkin participated in the coup of 1762 as an insignificant member of the Horse Guards, helping thereby Catherine take the throne. He was later awarded titles and given an estate.

In the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-74, Potemkin he had been extremely brave and he quickly rose to the rank of a general.

Rise to favour
Grigory Potemkin was very educated and intelligent. He had graduated from the Moscow University among the 12 best students. Although blind in his left eye, he was extremely handsome, brave and strong.

In 1774 Catherine the Great and Potemkin met and he became his secret lover. Catherine elected him member of his State Council and he soon became the most influential man in Russia. Potemkin was the “only man the Empress stands in awe of”.

Potemkin was assigned in charge of the campaign against Turkey. He extended the Russian territory greatly to the south. In 1783 he occupied Crimea and was appointed the Tauride Prince by the Empress.

As governor of the newly conquered territories, Potemkin was wise and progressive. He greatly improved the infrastructure, built cities and universities, reformed the army, founded Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet. Catherine used him as his most important political advisor in foreign as well as internal policy.

Potemkin village
In 1787, Catherine paid a visit to the newly conquered lands and Potemkin organized her a grandiose welcome.

The legend of fake “Potemkin villages“ is widely regarded today as fiction.


Fyodor Ushakov