Catherine Pavlovna of Russia

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Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna
Queen consort of Württemberg
Tenure 30 October 1816 – 9 January 1819
Born (1788-05-10)10 May 1788
Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo, Russian Empire
Died 9 January 1819(1819-01-09) (aged 30)
Stuttgart, Württemberg
Spouse Duke George of Oldenburg
William I of Württemberg
Issue Duke Alexander Georgievich of Oldenburg
Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg
Maria, Countess of Neipperg
Sophie, Queen of the Netherlands
House House of Oldenburg
House of Württemberg
House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
Father Paul I of Russia
Mother Sophie Dorothea of Württemburg
Religion Russian Orthodox

Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia (Russian: Екатерина Павловна; 10 May 1788 – 9 January 1819) was the fourth daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia and Princess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. She became the Queen of Württemberg upon her marriage to her first cousin Crown Prince William who eventually became King William I of Württemberg in 1816.


Ekaterina was born at Tsarskoye Selo. She had a happy childhood and her education was carefully supervised by her mother. She received the best education and constantly furthered her education through reading new literary publications and personal contacts with various outstanding persons. She was very close to her siblings particularly with her eldest brother Tsar Alexander I. Throughout her life she would maintain a close relationship with him. It was said that she was Alexander's favorite sister and one of the few persons he loved unconditionally. His letters to her are expressed in phrases like "I am yours, heart and soul, for life", "I think that I love you more with each day that passes", and "to love you more than I do is impossible". Ekaterina was reportedly also her mother's favorite daughter.

After Napoléon I's divorce from Empress Joséphine during the course of the Napoleonic Wars, the French Emperor hinted to Alexander I his wish to marry Ekaterina - a desire mainly to draw the Russians to his side. These plans had actually been hinted as early as 1808, in Erfurt, on suggestion by Talleyrand. Ekaterina's family was horrified, and so the Dowager Empress immediately arranged a marriage for her daughter to Duke George of Oldenburg.


Described as beautiful and vivacious, Ekaterina was married to her first cousin Duke George of Oldenburg on 3 August 1809. Although their marriage was arranged, Ekaterina was devoted to her husband. George was the second son of Peter, Duke of Oldenburg and his wife, Duchess Frederica of Württemberg. It was said that he was not handsome but Ekaterina reportedly cared for him deeply, and his death in 1812 due to typhoid fever saddened her greatly. The couple resided in Tver, where George had been appointed governor general. In Tver, Catherine lived a lavish court life and entertained with balls, grand dinners and similar events in the pattern of the Imperial court, to create "a Small Saint Petersburg" in Tver. She also supported N.M. Karamzin to write his later famous historical work. Tsar Alexander adopted reactionary ideas from a patriotic group which she dominated. In 1812, some conspirators who planned to depose Tsar Alexander had the ambitions to put her on the throne as Empress Catherine III.

In 1812, she supported the suggestion to summon a national militia, and formed a special regiment of chasseurs which took part in many of the great battles of the era. During 1813-1815, Ekaterina travelled to England with her brother Tsar Alexander I to meet the Prince Regent and again during the Vienna Congress. She was not without influence upon his political acts during these trips. She also supported the marriage between her youngest sister Anna and William II of the Netherlands.

It was in England where she met the Crown Prince William of Württemberg. It was love at first sight for the couple. However, William was then married to Princess Charlotte of Bavaria and took the then drastic step by divorcing her. William then married Ekaterina in 1816 in Saint Petersburg. Upon her husband's accession as king, Ekaterina, now Queen Katharina of Württemberg, became active in charity works in her adopted homeland. She established numerous institutions for the benefit of the public. She supported elementary education and organized a charity foundation during the hunger of 1816.

Ekaterina died at Stuttgart, in January 1819, of erysipelas complicated by pneumonia. After her death her husband built Württemberg Mausoleum in Rotenberg, Stuttgart dedicated to her memory. William later remarried to his first cousin Princess Pauline of Württemberg.


Ekaterina had two sons with Duke George of Oldenburg (9 May 1784 – 27 December 1812):

With the King of Württemberg, she had the following children:

  • Maria Friederike Charlotte (30 October 1816 – 4 January 1887)
  • Sophie Friederike Mathilde (17 June 1818 – 3 June 1877) - Became Queen of the Netherlands

Titles and styles

  • 10 May 1788 – 3 August 1809: Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia
  • 3 August 1809 – 24 January 1816: Her Imperial Highness Duchess George of Oldenburg, Grand Duchess of Russia
  • 24 January 1816 – 30 October 1816: Her Imperial and Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Württemberg, Grand Duchess of Russia
  • 30 October 1816 – 19 January 1819: Her Majesty The Queen of Württemberg



  • Arturo Beeche. The Grand Duchesses
  • Detlef Jena. Katharina Pawlowna. Großfürstin von Russland - Königin von Württemberg
  • W. Bruce Lincoln. The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russians


Catherine Pavlovna of Russia
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 10 May 1788 Died: 9 January 1819
German royalty
Preceded by
Charlotte, Princess Royal
Queen consort of Württemberg
Succeeded by
Pauline Therese of Württemberg