Nay! Neigh! No! No! She did not die when the harness broke. She liked officers of the Imperial Horse Guard, not horses. Yes, Catherine was a fairly lusty woman; she had a dozen lovers one after another over a 30 year period, but by the standards of your average King Louis that's almost celibacy.

One of her love notes has survived:

"If you really must see me, send someone to tell me; since six o'clock I have had the most atrocious diarrhea." [sent to Potemkin, 1774]

So, how did she die?

She suffered a stroke while walking to the water closet and died three days later on a mat on the floor, with a half dozen eye witnesses.

Back to Page one.