Catherine the Great Facts
Known for: Empress of Russia (June 28, 1762 - November 17, 1796). She's known in history as Catherine the Great -- modeled after Peter the Great -- though she eschewed the title in her lifetime.
Catherine the Great Biography
Born a princess in Germany, Catherine the Great converted to Orthodoxy and was married to the heir to the Russian throne, the Grand Duke Peter of Holstein, grandson of Peter the Great. Though Catherine the Great had the support of Peter's mother, the Empress Elizabeth, she disliked her husband and helped engineer his removal from the throne. She took power as Tsarina or Queen, calling herself Catherine II. Soon after, she may have been behind Peter's death.
During her reign, Catherine the Great expanded Russia's borders to the Black Sea and into central Europe. She promoted westernization and modernization though within the context of her autocratic control over Russia and increasing the control of landed gentry over serfs. Catherine the Great promoted education and the Enlightenment among the elite. She kept up a correspondence with many figures of the Enlightenment in Europe.
Catherine the Great is often remembered for her many lovers. She came to the throne with her lover Count Gregory Orlov's active support; while remaining committed to him she also took many other lovers.
Catherine the Great died in 1796, and her son Paul succeeded her to the throne.
Also Known As: Catherine II, Yekaterina II Alexeyevna
Places: Russia, 18th Century
Religion: Russian Orthodox
Erickson, Carolly. Great Catherine. 1995.
Troyat, Henri. Catherine the Great. Joan Pinkham, translator. Reprint 1994.
More About Catherine the Great:
- Catherine the Great Index
- Women Rulers, Queens, Heads of State
- Russian Women's History
- The Death of Catherine the Great
- Russian Reforms under Catherine
Catherine the Great - Elsewhere on the Web
- Catherine and Peter: The Odd Couple: The troubled relationship between Peter and Catherine, in detail. Continues with the story of Catherine the Great's ascension to the throne at Peter's death.
- Modern History Sourcebook: Catherine the Great: Original (translated) documents written by Catherine the Great of Russia.
- The Romanovs: The official, post-Soviet-Union, Russian National Tourist Bureau, history of the Romanovs including Catherine.
- Treasures of the Czars: An online exhibition from the Florida International Museum, of objects from the Moscow Kremlin Museums.