Catherine the Great, born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, was a monarch who ruled as Empress of Russia from 1762 until her death in 1796. She was born on May 2, 1729, in Stettin, Prussia (now Szczecin, Poland) and died on November 17, 1796, in Tsarskoye Selo, Russia (now Pushkin).
Catherine the Great came to power following a coup that overthrew her husband, Tsar Peter III. She is known for her ambitious reforms and expansion of the Russian Empire. During her reign, she enacted various administrative, educational, and cultural reforms that sought to modernize Russia. Catherine promoted westernization and the ideals of the Enlightenment, encouraging the arts, sciences, and literature.
Under her rule, Russia acquired new territories through successful wars and diplomatic maneuvers. This expansion included the annexation of Crimea, the partition of Poland, and territorial gains in the Caucasus. Catherine’s reign marked a period of significant growth and influence for Russia, solidifying its status as a major European power.
Catherine the Great is often remembered as one of the most prominent and successful female rulers in history. Her reign saw significant advancements in the arts and sciences, and she maintained a correspondence with many prominent intellectuals of her time, including Voltaire and Denis Diderot. However, Catherine’s legacy has also been criticized due to her autocratic rule, the harsh treatment of serfs, and her expansionist policies.
It’s worth noting that Catherine the Great’s reputation and historical interpretation have been shaped by various factors, including political propaganda and conflicting accounts.