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How Catherine the Great gathered a female army, and for which she presented a diamond ring to the "captain" Sarandova
How Catherine the Great gathered a female army, and for which she presented a diamond ring to the "captain" Sarandova

Catherine the Great was a gambling woman. Once she argued with Prince Potemkin about who is bolder - a man or a woman. Trying to prove to the Empress that he was right, Potemkin introduced her to a hundred beautiful girls in military uniform and with weapons in their hands. Read in the material how the female army was assembled, for which Catherine gave the “captain” Elena Sarandova a diamond ring and how the death battalion of Maria Bochkareva was created.

"Amazon company", collected by Potemkin for the Empress

Grigory Potemkin created a company of Amazons to defeat Catherine

Once, in 1787, Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin ordered the commander of the Greek regiment, Konstantin Chaponi, to find a hundred girls as soon as possible (in 60 days) and create a special unit, a "company of Amazons". Why did Potemkin make this decision? During a conversation with Catherine, he said that the Greeks are very warlike and courageous, while not only Greek men, but also women have such qualities. The empress took such a statement with a grin, which provoked Potemkin. She also added at the same time that the prince should not throw words to the wind, but should prove the veracity of his statements in practice.

Gregory promised that when Catherine goes to Crimea, she will see Russian "Greek warriors" with her own eyes. The executive Chaponi did not disappoint the prince: the surprised queen was met by a female company. The girls lined up in a picturesque alley where orange, lemon and laurel trees grew. It was truly an incredible sight.

Russian female warriors as a symbol of Russian power and intimidation of enemies

The Amazons were a symbol of fearlessness and courage

Of course, the company of Amazons was not only a fantasy of Prince Potemkin, who was afraid to look ridiculous in front of Catherine. The Crimean trip had a special purpose: to demonstrate to foreign guests the full power of the Russian state. Potemkin (at that time he held the post of governor-general of the region) tried to turn the trip from revision into a solemn one. The plan included a demonstration of the Black Sea Fleet, and the "Amazon company" was supposed to be the highlight on the cake.

Beautiful warriors were assigned an important role - to show the allied guests how strong Russia is. And the enemies, seeing the female army, would certainly remember the Parthian shot, which was invented by the Amazons. The Parthian Shot is a false retreat. The Amazons tried to lure the enemy into an unknown area, after which they sharply changed direction, turned around and shot the enemy from their tight bows. Beautiful girls reminded that the smartest, bravest and most fearless wins.

Elena Sarandova, whom the empress gave a diamond

Catherine liked the Russian Amazons so much that she presented an expensive ring to the "captain" of the company

Why did Potemkin decide that it was Greek women who should participate in the "war performance"? His goal was to flatter Catherine the Great by drawing an analogy with Phalestris, the queen of the Amazons. There was a legend that this woman personally visited Alexander the Great in order to conceive a child from him. Secondly, the prince tried to hint that the Greeks are a friendly people, ready to serve Catherine, and also that with the help of Russia, they can try to restore the Greek Empire.

So, a hundred young and beautiful Greek women (daughters and wives of officers from Greece), wearing wide red skirts, holding pikes and guns in their hands, made a splash among the foreign guests. For example, the Austrian prince Joseph de Lin wrote that he was amazed at the beautiful open faces of women. And the Austrian Emperor Joseph II saw the Amazons in Balaklava even before the arrival of Catherine and the guests. He could not restrain himself, went up to the nineteen-year-old captain and captured a hot kiss on her lips.

The uniform for the female company was specially sewn. The colors were red and green. They were involved in uniforms for men (the second battalion of the Greek regiment), and were also present in the national dress of the Turks. The girls looked great with fitted spencers and white turbans decorated with feathers and sequins.

Liked the girl and the empress. She even called “captain” Elena Sarandova, patted her on the shoulder and kissed her hard on the lips. Subsequently, the queen presented Elena with a diamond ring and bestowed the title of captain. Sarandova is the first female officer in the Russian army. The rest of the ladies were not left without a gift: they were handed ten thousand rubles each.

How the case continued with the creation of a death battalion "under the command of Maria Bochkareva

The death battalion of Maria Bochkareva

So, the military performance was played, the Amazon women went home, where their fathers and husbands were eagerly awaiting them. They had a lot of their female affairs, from cooking dinner and cleaning the house to carrying a baby. Naturally, the Amazons were not hired for military service, despite the fact that they were taught some "weapon techniques". The express course included rifle shooting, bayonet work, peak throwing, fencing, horseback riding, and marching.

When Catherine left home, the company was disbanded. In general, it is understandable: the empress was entertained, the guests were surprised, the job was done. And it's time for the "masquerade" actors to go home. Despite this, Potemkin's idea was useful and was further developed. During the First World War, another unit was created, consisting entirely of women. It's about the legendary "death battalion", which was successfully commanded by Maria Bochkareva. Only this time the task for the women was more serious than simply entertaining the guests. They were supposed to show fearlessness, and thereby inspire the men who allowed themselves to retreat. The ladies showed them an example of courage, and the soldiers returned to the trenches, fought with the enemy, sparing no effort and lives.

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