Costume Candidate for 2013: Catherine the Great

Thanks to our Kickstarter campaign for 2013, we’re adding 19 new costumes this season, 7 of which our backers and supporters will get to vote on. This series of posts is designed to briefly introduce the many notable women and legendary figures we’ll be considering. Voting will take place spring/summer of 2013.


It’s not true about the horse. Catherine the Great had plenty of paramours, but her private life was no weirder than the average king’s. The only difference was that she was a queen, not a king, and so what we might call the Empress Theodora Effect kicked in (powerful woman = male panic = lurid gossip, rumors of depravity, blah blah blah). So ignore the stories. Yes, Catherine had a lot of boyfriends. No, they weren’t equines.

Silliness aside, Catherine the Great was one of the most influential rulers in Russia’s history. She came to the throne in a coup and then stayed there for 30 years, expanding the nation’s borders and turning it into an international powerhouse. She was in many ways very enlightened—or as enlightened as an absolute monarch can be—and successfully promoted education, modernization, and reform. (Not for serfs, though; no relief for them. Catherine was as enlightened about serfs as Thomas Jefferson was about slaves.) During her reign Russia finally became, in the words of a contemporary, “a European country,” with an educated, sophisticated elite and the status of a world power. What Peter the Great had dreamed of, Catherine the Great made happen.

Ironically, Catherine’s awful son Paul was so resentful of his mother that when he finally succeeded her as tsar, he passed a law forever barring women from the throne.

Think we should add a Catherine the Great costume to Take Back Halloween? If you missed our Kickstarter campaign you can still become a supporter and get to vote on the new costumes.


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2 Comments → “Costume Candidate for 2013: Catherine the Great”

  1. anna


    Was the law later repealed?

  2. Suzanne Scoggins


    Nope. In fact the succession rules of Emperor Paul continue to be an issue, because a century after the Revolution the Romanovs are still squabbling over who is the Tsar-in-Exile. One of the chief claimaints is a woman, Maria Vladimirovna. The Pauline rules are one of the arguments against her, though not necessarily the most important argument. Other sticking points include her parents’ marriage and the behavior of her grandparents during and after the Revolution. It’s very messy.