She expanded the Russian Empire, improved administration, and vigorously pursued the policy of Westernization.
Stettin, Pomerania, 21 April 2 May Died: Petersburg, 6 17 November Reigned: Born Sophie Friederike Auguste from Anhalt-Zerbst, she was indeed a princess, but one that came from an obscure and impoverished German duchy.
Fortunately, her mother enjoyed enviable royal connections, the effective exploitation of which resulted in a winter journey to St. Petersburg at the invitation of the childless Empress Elizabeth, who was actively seeking an appropriate bride for her designated heir, Peter.
The year was and Sophie was fourteen years old. On 21 Augustwhen Sophie was sixteen and Peter seventeen, the two were married. Peter, who was at the very least eccentric, loathed the country into which he had been imported as child heir, and remained a staunch supporter of all things Prussian, especially the Prussian military, which did nothing to ingratiate him to his new subjects.
Sophie, on the other hand, came to Russia committed to doing whatever had to be done and to believing whatever was required to be believed in order to qualify for the crown.
She learned the Russian language, converted to Orthodoxy, whereby she received the name Catherine, and with charm and determination carefully cultivated long-term relationships with the powerful and the well-connected.
Thus, after the death of Elizabeth ina swift and bloodless palace coup was all it took to remove the hapless Peter from the throne upon which he had sat a mere six months and to replace him with the charismatic Catherine.
Catherine, who understood the power of image and symbol, sought to change this negative view by creating a powerful, modern, wealthy country ruled over by a sophisticated, enlightened autocrat herself.
She founded elementary schools, academies, libraries and other institutions of learning across the empire.
Catherine I, Russian in full Yekaterina Alekseyevna, original name Marta Skowronska (born April 15 [April 5, Old Style], —died May 17 [May 6], , St. Petersburg, Russia), peasant woman of Baltic (probably Lithuanian) birth who became the second wife of Peter I the Great (reigned –) and empress of Russia (–27). Catherine II was the empress of Russia from to She is one of the most famous monarchs in history. Better known as Catherine the Great, she expanded Russia’s territory and reorganized its laws and administration. Her reign also saw great developments in . Empress Catherine II of Russia, better known as Catherine The Great and one of the more effective of the Russian rulers, was actually German by birth. Born in and christened Sophia Augusta Frederica, she was the daughter of Christian Augustus, Prince of Anhalt Zerbst-Bernburg.
When the former, who called her the "Star of the North", died, she wept, and then bought his book collection. And when the latter fell upon hard times, the Empress - who he said possessed the charm of Cleopatra and the soul of Caesar - purchased his personal library, generously leaving it in his possession until his death and paying him a salary as a librarian.
Meanwhile Catherine further stunned Europe by spending vast sums of money purchasing masterpieces of art.
Catherine likewise maintained a court worthy of such magnificence - more than one of every ten rubles in the state budget was spent on court expenses. Not that the Empress did not enjoy an extravagant ball or an impressive diplomatic reception, but she also understood the symbolic significance that such grandeur conveyed to awed Western beholders.
Two successful wars waged against the Ottoman Empire brought the Crimea under Russian control and with it the long-desired access to the Black Sea. In actuality, Catherine had approximately twelve consecutive "favorites", the most famous of whom were Grigory Orlov, an instrumental member in the coup that had brought her to power, and Grigory Potemkin, a statesman, diplomat, and military leader who may have married her secretly.
Catherine was known for the ample generosity she showed to her favorites and she was also deft at parting with them pleasantly, so that no one felt slighted. Portrait of Count Grigoriy Orlov in armour by Fedor Rokotov Catherine might well have achieved more had the infrastructure in Russia been better equipped for major societal transformations.
In reality, she was attempting to transplant progressive Western ideas from the Age of Enlightenment into the vast expanses of Russia at a time when serfs comprised the majority of the population. In addition, the Russian nobility was generally conservative and wary of reforms, especially when it came to issues like freeing the serfs.
Despite such impediments, Catherine nonetheless left the country stronger, wealthier and more beautiful than she had received it. The French ambassador to Russia in the s wrote: Before her reign, Petersburg, built in the realm of cold and ice, went almost unnoticed and seemed to be somewhere in Asia.
During her reign Russia became a European power. Petersburg occupied an important place among the capitals of the educated world and the Russian throne was raised as high as the most powerful and significant thrones.Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great, was an empress of Russia who ruled from , the longest reign of any female Russian leader.
Catherine I, Russian in full Yekaterina Alekseyevna, original name Marta Skowronska (born April 15 [April 5, Old Style], —died May 17 [May 6], , St. Petersburg, Russia), peasant woman of Baltic (probably Lithuanian) birth who became the second wife of Peter I the Great (reigned –) and empress of Russia (–27).
Empress Catherine II of Russia, better known as Catherine The Great and one of the more effective of the Russian rulers, was actually German by birth.
Born in and christened Sophia Augusta Frederica, she was the daughter of Christian Augustus, Prince of Anhalt Zerbst-Bernburg. Biography of Catherine I, Empress of Russia. Find out more about Catherine I and the history of St. Petersburg, Russia.
Nicholas II was the last tsar of Russia under Romanov rule whose handling of Bloody Sunday and Nicholas II Biography. Catherine II was empress of Russia, Born: May 06, Catherine the Great >The Russian empress Catherine II  is a thorough and sound biography.
The Romance of an Empress: Catherine II of Russia.