- NAME: Catherine II
- OCCUPATION: Political Leader, Empress
- BIRTH DATE: May 02, 1729
- DEATH DATE: November 17, 1796
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Stettin, Poland
- PLACE OF DEATH: Tsarskoye Selo, Russia
- Full Name: Sophie Friederike Auguste, Prinzessin von Anhalt-Zerbst
- AKA: Sophie Friederike Auguste
- AKA: Catherine II
- AKA: Yekaterina Velikaya
- AKA: Yekaterina Alekseyevna
- AKA: Catherine the Great
Best Known For
Catherine II was empress of Russia, and led her country into the political and cultural life of Europe, carrying on the work begun by Peter the Great.
On Christmas Day Empress Elizabeth died, leaving the throne to Peter the Third.
Catherine the Great ruled Russia's empire for some 34 years. While she led her country to prominence, she was best known for her steamy love affairs.
During the French Revolution, beheadings of the monarchy had become more popular and Catherine rescinded many of the reforms she had created.
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In addition to her son Paul, who may or may not have been Peter III's son, Catherine had two other children: daughter, Anna Petrovna, with Stanislaus Poniatowski, and her son, Alexis Bobrinsky, with Gregory Orlov.
By 1796, Catherine had enjoyed several decades as Russia's absolute ruler. She had a strained relationship with her son and heir, Paul, over her tight grip on power, but she enjoyed her grandchildren, especially the oldest one: Alexander. In her later years, Catherine continued to possess an active mind and a strong spirit. On November 17, 1796, however, she was found unconscious on the floor of her bathroom. It was thought at the time that she suffered a stroke.
Catherine, Russia's great empress, lingered on until the following night, but never regained consciousness. At the Winter Palace, her coffin lay in state next to the coffin of her late husband, Peter III. Her son, Paul, ordered the remains of his father to placed there, giving Peter III the funeral honors that he had not received after his assassination. Catherine II and Peter III were both laid to rest at the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Catherine is often better remembered for her romantic liaisons than her many accomplishments. Historians have also criticized her for not improving the lives of serfs, who were the majority of the Russian population. Still, Catherine made some significant contributions to Russia. She brought educational reforms and championed the arts. As the country's leader, Catherine also helped Russia become a great power, extending its borders through military might and diplomatic prowess.
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