40 Iconic Catherine The Great Quotes From The Russian Empress

Luca Demetriou
Dec 12, 2023 By Luca Demetriou
Originally Published on Feb 09, 2021
Monument to Catherine II (Catherine the Great) in Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo), Russia.
Age: 0-99
Read time: 8.8 Min

Born in Stettin, Pomerania, Kingdom of Prussia, her father belonged to the ruling German family of Anhalt, she was named Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg.

Catherine's rise to power was supported by her mothers’ side of wealthy relatives who were an heir to the Swedish throne.  Catherine The Great came to power after a successful coup d’état which was planned with her noble favorites to overthrow her husband and the then Czar of Russia. These Catherine The Great quotes will convey her strong personality.

The Catherinian Era is known as the golden age of Russia. She was also known as  'Catherine II of Russia', 'Catherine The Great Madame', and 'Catherine The Great Happiness'. These Catherine The Great quotes are fascinating and perfect for history lovers.

Here are some great quotes from Catherine The Great that you will enjoy. For more great quotes from famous female rulers of the world, you must read Elizabeth I quotes and Marie-Antoinette quotes.

Best Catherine The Great Quotes

Catherine II of Russia made sure that the empire expanded far, wide which led to adding new wealth to the Russian coffers. She was a champion for arts, culture and education. A voracious reader herself, she wrote quite a few books and educational pamphlets.

However, she failed to uplift the poor of Russia. Below are some of the famous Catherine The Great quotes that you must read. Which Catherine The Great quote is your favorite?

1. “I praise loudly. I blame softly.”

- Catherine The Great.

2. “One does not always do the best there is. One does the best one can.”

- Catherine The Great.

3. “If Russians knew how to read, they would write me off.”

- Catherine The Great.

4. “Nothing is more difficult, in my opinion, than to avoid something that fundamentally attracts you.”

- Catherine The Great.

5. “It is better to inspire a reform than to enforce it.”

- Catherine The Great.

6. "I beg you take courage; the brave soul can mend even disaster.”

- Catherine The Great.

7. “You were in a mood to quarrel. Please inform me once the inclination passes.”

- Catherine The Great.

8. “The more a man knows, the more he forgives.”

- Catherine The Great.

9. “The laws ought to be so framed as to secure the safety of every citizen as much as possible...Political liberty does not consist in the notion that a man may do whatever he pleases; liberty is the right to do whatsoever the laws allow.

The equality of the citizens consists in that they should all be subject to the same laws.”

- Catherine The Great.

Famous Catherine The Great Quotations

Catherine The Great fashioned herself on Peter The Great and went about creating a new law code, writing and reforming education and adding to her vast collection of art. The Hermitage museum which is now the whole of Winter Palace was started by her collection of various books, paintings and more.

She was also known to be a contemporary speechmaker. Catherine The Great also built hospitals, supported religious tolerance and was a skilful diplomat. Here are some fascinating Catherine The Great quotations which will inspire you even more.

Portrait of Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Gerolamo Giovenone.

10. “The intention and the end of monarchy, is the Glory of the citizens, of the state, and of the sovereign.

But, from this glory, a sense of liberty arises in a people governed by a monarch; which may produce in these states as much energy in transacting the most important affairs, and may contribute as much to the happiness of the subjects, as even liberty itself....”

- Catherine The Great.

11. “The usage of torture is contrary to all the dictates of nature and reason; even mankind itself cries out against it, and demands loudly the total abolition of it.”

- Catherine The Great.

12. “No man ought to be looked upon as guilty, before he has received his judicial sentence; nor can the laws deprive him of their protection, before it is proved that he has forfeited all Right to it.”

- Catherine The Great.

13. “A man ought to form in his own mind an exact and clear Idea of what liberty is. Liberty is the right of doing whatsoever the laws allow: And if any one citizen could do what the laws forbid, there would be no more liberty; because others would have an equal power of doing the same.”

- Catherine The Great.

14. “First health, then wealth, then pleasure, and do not owe anything to anybody.”

- Catherine The Great.

15. “In a state or assemblage of people that live together in a community, where there are laws, liberty can only consist in doing that which every one ought to do, and not to be constrained to do that which one ought not to do.”

- Catherine The Great.

16. “I sincerely want peace, not because I lack resources for war, but because I hate bloodshed.”

- Catherine The Great.

17. “Happiness and unhappiness are in the heart and spirit of each one of us: If you feel unhappy, then place yourself above that and act so that your happiness does not get to be dependent on anything.”

- Catherine The Great.

18. “I cannot live one day without love.”

- Catherine The Great.

19. “I shall be an autocrat: that's my trade. And the good Lord will forgive me: that's his.”

- Catherine The Great.

20. “I may be kindly, I am ordinarily gentle, but in my line of business I am obliged to will terribly what I will at all."

- Catherine The Great.

21. “The most sure, but at the same time the most difficult expedient to mend the morals of the people, is a perfect system of education.”

- Catherine The Great.

22. “Very early it was noticed that I had a good memory; therefore, I was insistently tormented with learning everything by heart.”

- Catherine The Great, ‘The Memoirs Of Catherine The Great’.

23. “For to tempt and to be tempted are things very nearly allied - whenever feeling has anything to do in the matter, no sooner is it excited than we have already gone vastly farther than we are aware of.”

- Catherine The Great.

24. “Tell a thousand people to draft a letter, let them debate every phrase, and see how long it takes and what you get.”

- Catherine The Great.

25. “You should know our mania for building is stronger than ever. It is a diabolical thing. It consumes money and the more you build, the more you want to build. It's a sickness like being addicted to alcohol.”

- Catherine The Great.

26. “In my position, you have to read when you want to write and talk when you would like to read.”

- Catherine The Great.

27. "The Grand Duke appeared to rejoice at the arrival of my mother and myself.

I was in my fifteenth year. During the first ten days he paid me much attention. Even then and in that short time, I saw and understood that he did not care much for the nation that he was destined to rule, and that he clung to Lutheranism, did not like his entourage, and was very childish."

- Catherine The Great.

28. “It is better to be subject to the laws under one master, than to be subservient to many.”

- Catherine The Great.

29. “Equality requires institutions so well adapted, as to prevent the Rich from oppressing those who are not so wealthy as themselves.”

- Catherine The Great.

30. “From the age of ten, Peter III was partial to drink.”

- Catherine The Great.

31. “That law, therefore, is highly beneficial to the community where it is established, which ordains that every man shall be judged by his peers and equals.

For when the fate of a citizen is in question, all prejudices arising from the difference of rank or fortune should be stifled; because they ought to have no influence between the judges and the parties accused.”

- Catherine The Great.

32. "What right therefore can power give to any to inflict punishment upon a Citizen at a time, when it is yet dubious, whether he is innocent or guilty?"

- Catherine The Great.

Quotes About Catherine The Great

Many authors like Gamaliel Bradford, Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans, Andrew Frothingham, and others, have written brilliant things about Catherine II Of Russia, chronicling her life and different anecdotes. Here is a collection of quotes about Catherine II Of Russia.

33. “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.”

- Gamaliel Bradford, ‘Daughters Of Eve’.

34. “This princess seems to combine every kind of ambition in her person. Everything that may add lustre to her reign will have some attraction for her.”

- George Vernadsky, ‘A Source Book For Russian History Vol. 2’ (1972).

35. “The love of power and the power to attract love were not easy to reconcile.”

- Robert K Massie, ‘Catherine The Great: Portrait Of A Woman’.

36.  “This marriage had resulted from impulse: he had seen her on a high-flying swing at Tsarkoe Selo and her skirt, flared by the breeze, had exposed her ankles; he had proposed the following day.”

- Robert K. Massie, ‘Catherine The Great: Portrait Of A Woman’.

37  “This,” Catherine wrote later, “is the effect that can be produced by a stupid, carelessly spoken word—it is never forgotten.”

- Robert K. Massie, ‘Catherine The Great: Portrait Of A Woman’.

38. “Assuredly men of merit are never lacking at any time, for those are the men who manage affairs, and it is affairs that produce the men. I have never searched, and I have always found under my hand the men who have served me, and for the most part I have been well served.”

- Emil Reich, ‘Woman Through The Ages’.

39. “Power without a nation's confidence is nothing.”

- Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans, and Andrew Frothingham, ‘And I Quote: The Definitive Collection Of Quotes, Sayings, And Jokes For The Contemporary Speechmaker’.

40. "You philosophers are lucky men. You write on paper and paper is patient. Unfortunate Empress that I am, I write on the susceptible skins of living beings.”

- Colin Bingham, ‘The Affairs Of Women: A Modern Miscellany’.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 40+ Catherine The Great quotations, then why not take a look at Judy Garland quotes, or Frank Sinatra quotes.

second image credit: Katoosha / Shutterstock.com

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Written by Luca Demetriou

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English and Drama, Master of Arts specializing in Performance: Design and Practice

Luca Demetriou picture

Luca DemetriouBachelor of Arts specializing in English and Drama, Master of Arts specializing in Performance: Design and Practice

Experienced in writing and sub-editing, Luca holds a Bachelor's in English Literature and Drama from the University of Birmingham, where he served as the culture editor at Redbrick Paper. He is currently pursuing a Master's in Performance: Design and Practice at the University of the Arts in London, showcasing his passion for the arts, performance, and history. With a keen interest in traveling, Luca enjoys exploring new cultures and experiencing diverse perspectives.

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