The Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin

Front Cover
Macmillan, Nov 7, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 634 pages
Prince Grigory Potemkin was Catherine the Great's lover, secret husband, and partner in ruling the Russian Empire. Their affair was so tumultuous, they negotiated an arrangement that allowed them to share power while he was free to love his beautiful nieces, and Catherine, her favorites. But they never stopped loving each other. Their endearing and passionate relationship remains one of history's most remarkable love affairs.

Potemkin shone as an outstandingly gifted statesman, winning the Crimea, founding the Black Sea Fleet, reforming the Cossacks, planning new cities like Sebastopol and Odessa, and making Russia a Near Eastern power - achievements in war and peace that emulated his hero Peter the Great.

He embodied the strengths and weaknesses of Russia itself - volatile, ebullient, handsome, sensual, and always astonishing. His bizarre magnificence enchanted and scandalized Europe. Yet he disdained his own success.

He was surrounded by a cosmopolitan court that included brilliant Americans, such as Admiral John Paul Jones, and Lewis Littlepage, a friend of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Both served under Potemkin against the Turks.

An obsessive Anglophile, he commissioned Joshua Reynolds and created an English garden wherever he stopped for the night. In 1787, this master showman presided over Catherine's Crimean river-tour, so sumptuous it was compared to Cleopatra's progress. Potemkin's enemies claimed he displayed fake houses - "Potemkin villages" - a smear this biography lays to rest.

After five years' new research in archives from Petersburg to Odessa, Sebag Montefiore shoes how Potemkin and Catherine, with their younger lovers, created their own "family." He brings blazingly to life Potemkin's loving partnership with Catherine and restores him to his place as a colossus of the eighteenth century. When he died, Catherine was heartbroken. She said there could never be another Potemkin.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - robeik - LibraryThing

This is a fantastically long book about a couple of people in the 18th century that I had not heard of, other than that I had heard of someone called Catherine the Great. I'm embarrassed that when I ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Hiensch - LibraryThing

Although very interesting and offering a new perspective on Potemkin I found the book slightly disappointing. The story of Catherine and Potemkin could have been told in 300 pages instead the five ... Read full review

Contents

Death on the Steppes I
1
POTEMKIN AND CATHERINE 17391762
11
The Provincial Boy
13
Catherines Coup
32
The Empresss Reckless Suitor
48
CLOSER 17621774
63
Cyclops
65
The War Hero
76
British Blackamoors and Chechen Warriors
285
The Benthams in Russia and the Emperor of Gardens
295
The White Negro
312
A Day in the Life of Grigory Alexandrovich
328
THE APOGEE 17871790
349
The Magical Theatre
351
Cleopatra
363
The Amazons
376

The Happiest Man Alive
94
TOGETHER 17741776
107
Love
109
Power
122
Madame Potemkin
136
Heartbreak and Understanding
151
THE PASSIONATE PARTNERSHIP 17761777
163
Her Favourites
165
His Nieces
185
Duchesses Diplomats and Charlatans
196
THE COLOSSUS 17771783
213
Byzantium
215
The Holy Roman Emperor
223
Three Marriages and a Crown
236
The Crimea
244
THE COTSAR 17841786
261
Emperor of the South
263
Potemkins War
388
The Storming of Ochakov
404
My Successes Are Yours
417
Sardanapalus
430
Ismail
448
THE LAST DANCE 1791
457
The Beautiful Greek
459
Carnival and Crisis
467
The Last Ride
480
Life After Death
487
List of Characters
503
Maps
506
Family Trees
508
Notes
512
Select Bibliography
593
Index
615
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

S. Sebag Montefiore studied history at Cambridge University. He writes for the Sunday Times and The Spectator in London, and The New York Times, particularly about Russia. He spent much of the 1990's travelling throughout the ex-Soviet empire, especially in the Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. The author of two novels, he is married and lives in London.

Bibliographic information