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The Great: what happened to Catherine the Great's husband Peter?

Nicholas Hoult plays Peter III on the show

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Channel 4 show The Great depicts Catherine the Great, the Empress of All Russia's rise to power in the 18th century, and stars Elle Fanning as the powerful protagonist.

After premiering last weekend, the period drama – which is based loosely on Catherine's younger years and marriage – had viewers gripped for its comedy value and sensational cast.

MORE: Viewers are saying the same thing about The Great

Nicholas Hoult plays Catherine's insufferable husband Peter in the show directed by Philip Martin, the main behind Netflix's The Crown. But what really happened to the Emperor in real life? Find out below.

WATCH TRAILER: Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning star in the brilliant series The Great

Catherine and Peter's marriage

Catherine and her second cousin Peter married in 1745 when Peter was 17 and Catherine was 16. However, their marriage was not a happy one and, in her memoir, Catherine described her husband as "childlike". "From the age of ten, Peter III was partial to drink," she also noted. 

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Peter had a brief stint as Russia's Emperor when he inherited the throne in 1762 but, after six months, he was overthrown by his wife Catherine the Great – who became Czarina.

peter 6

A portrait of the Tsar Peter III 

It is believed that Catherine suspected that Peter was planning to divorce her, so she devised a plan with soldier and member of her court, Count Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov, to take matters into her own hands, thus planning a coup d'état against Catherine's husband.

How did Emperor Peter die? 

Peter died on 18 July 1762 near St. Petersburg, Russia in mysterious circumstances. His autopsy reported that he fell ill and had a stroke, but others believe he was assassinated. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

peter the great

Nicholas Hoult plays Peter in The Great

Spoiler alert ahead for the season one finale! In the final episode of the hit show, we see Catherine attempt to stage a coup. Will she be successful? Will the writers feel sympathetic towards Peter and let him live? We can't wait to see what is in store for Peter and Catherine on the show and whether Peter's fate will fare better than his historical counterpart.

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