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Catherine the Great

Empress of Russia

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Catherine II of Russia (Catherine the Great) - portrait by Alexey Antropov

Catherine II of Russia (Catherine the Great) - portrait by Alexey Antropov

from a public domain image
Catherine the Great of Russia

Catherine the Great of Russia

from a public domain image
Catherine the Great

Portrait of Great Duchess Cathrine Alexeevna, the future Catherine the Great of Russia, from 1745, painted by Louis Cavaque.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Catherine the Great Facts

Dates: April 21, 1729 - November 17, 1796

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

Bibliography:

Erickson, Carolly. Great Catherine. 1995.

Troyat, Henri. Catherine the Great. Joan Pinkham, translator. Reprint 1994.

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