Lead: From relatively obscure beginnings, Sophie Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst, married her powerful appetites to ruthless ambition and became Catherine the Great.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: It was her fortune to be connected in her mother’s line to one of the premier houses of Germany, the Dutchy of Holstein. This gave her rank and eligibility among upwardly mobile 18th century European aristocrats. Her family played well the game of marriage intrigue and Sophie ended with one of the great prizes. She was betrothed to the grandson and heir of Czar Peter the Great of Russia. The young man, Karl, who later took the name Peter III, was one of history’s truly accomplished nit-wits. He never realized that intellectually he had married above his station.