After making her way to the Semenovsky Barracks by carriage, Catherine was greeted by several more soldiers. The men cheered for her and hailed her with the word “Vivat!”
Drums rolled as Catherine’s procession came to the Cathedral of Kazan. A throng of clergymen were gathered in the cathedral, as if they had been awaiting her presence.
In her shabby black mourning dress, Catherine seemed to be having a clandestine marriage. A hasty, unexpected marriage to Russia.
Catherine walked the length of the aisle to the altar. Before God and men, she took the oath as Empress and the only autocrat. She pledged to rule justly and to act as a shepherd to Russia’s people. She pledged her life to a country that had not born her, but she embraced tenderheartedly.
Bells rang as Catherine left the cathedral as the newly crowned Empress. People shouted after her as she climbed into her carriage. Looking out the window as the carriage drew away, Catherine saw hope alight in the faces of her people. They eagerly waved at her, hoping to lock eyes with their new ruler. To please the crowd, Catherine smiled and returned their waves.
Later the same day, Catherine arrived at the Winter Palace. Upon entering the palace, she was bombarded by people. Members of the Senate and Synod waited for her with the haughtier expected of politicians and courtiers.
Before giving her attention to these men, Count Panin, the tutor of her child, ushered out her child at once. Catherine could have cried right then and there, for she had not seen her child’s face in months. Instead, she knelt on the floor with open arms. Her son ran to her without a word of encouragement.
She held onto little Paul for what seemed like centuries to all in the room. For the united mother and son, it was only a short while.
Princess Dashkova made her way through the crowd and to her greatest friend. Bending towards mother and child, the princess said, “These men have waited a long time for you. They grow impatient. Accept their allegiance now.”
Catherine gave her friend a slight nod and separated herself from her son. Looking to the members of the Senate and the Synod, she said, “I have been made Empress. Come and swear your allegiance to me.”
The men would only be submissive to their new empress, whom most respected and loved. They swore their allegiance to her. A few even muttered sentiments similar to the soldiers of the Ismailovsky regiment, calling her savior and the better of her raving lunatic husband.
That night, after Catherine’s dangerous move had been played, manifestos were printed out and distributed to the people of Russia. The paper read:
“We, Catherine II, It has been clearly apparent to all true sons of our Russian Fatherland that the State of Russia has been exposed to supreme danger by the course of recent events. First, our Greek Orthodox Church has been so shaken, that it was exposed to the most extreme peril: that a heterodox faith might be substituted for our ancient orthodoxy. Second, the glory of Russia, which was carried to such heights by her victorious army at the cost of so much bloodshed, has been trampled underfoot by the conclusion of peace with our most mortal enemy (Frederick II), and the Fatherland had been abandoned to complete subjection, while the internal order, on which the unity and welfare of our entire country depend, has been completely disrupted. For these reasons we have found ourselves compelled, with the help of God, and in accordance with the manifest and sincere desire of our faithful subjects, to ascend the throne as sole and absolute sovereign, whereupon our loyal subjects have solemnly sworn us an oath of allegiance.”
The crown was Catherine’s, but her husband still drew breath. Peter was unaware of his disposal, but the news would soon reach the former Emperor’s ears.
Note: The manifesto in this portion of the short story is compromised of the actual words from the manifesto handed out to Catherine’s people.