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Catherine the Great

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54732.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:37 am Reply with quote

Q: How did Catherine the Great die?

F: Shagging a horse / On the bog
A: In bed, of a stroke.

Both the forfeits are resilient myths; the horse one is sometimes just rendered as an assertion that she used to do that kind of thing when she was a youngster. She actually died at 67 following a stroke. It's true that when she collapsed from the stroke she was in the loo, but she was cared for thereafter in bed, where she died.

Links to despots / dictators.

54750.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:53 am Reply with quote

Here's the Mythcon I did on the subject (one detail of which, at least, Flash debunks):

MYTHCONCEPTIONS: Catherine’s Horse by Mat Coward

THE MYTH: Catherine the Great died whilst attempting sexual intercourse with her horse - either because the poor beast panicked, and crushed the queen (who was strapped to its belly), or because her attendants lost their grip on the ropes which were holding it above her.

THE "TRUTH": Respectable histories rarely mention this legend, but it’s the one “fact” which most people know about Catherine (1729-96). At 15, she was married off to her mad cousin, who became Peter III of Russia. It was an unhappy (and possibly unconsummated) marriage, and in 1762 a coup resulted in Peter’s death and Catherine’s crowning as Empress. She began her reign as a reformist, but became one of Russia’s most reactionary despots. In one matter, however, she was famously and blatantly liberal - during and after her marriage, she took many lovers. In 1796 she died of a stroke, while sitting on her commode. Her sex life was the subject of much wild scurrility at home and abroad, and the bestiality tale seems to have arisen shortly after her death. Its implications are obvious: this widely despised, obese tyrant was obsessed with unladylike appetites which ruined her people and eventually cost her own life.

SOURCES: There’s lots of stuff on the internet, including at _The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia_ (ed. David Crystal) is good on the non-equine details.

DISCLAIMER: This story appears to be a non-runner, but if you can mount a defence, please gallop over to the letters page.


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