Catherine the Great ( 1729-1796 ) ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796.
During her reign Russia became a great European power. She was a good ruler, and highly cultured. Russia's borders were greatly expanded during her rule.
At the time of Catherine's accession, Russia was viewed as backward and provincial by many in Europe. She sought to change this negative opinion through expanding educational opportunities and the arts. Catherine had a boarding school established for girls from noble families in St. Petersburg ( the capital ), and later called for free schools to be created in towns across Russia.
An avid reader, Catherine was especially fond of the philosophers and writers of the Enlightenment. She exchanged letters with the French writer Voltaire, and writer Denis Diderot came to Russia to visit with her. In fact, Diderot was the one who gave Catherine her nickname, "Catherine the Great." With literary aspirations of her own, Catherine also wrote about her life in a collection of memoirs.
It is said that she got her husband Peter III assassinated in 1762 in a coup d'e'tat and then ruled Russia herself for the next 34 years, the longest reign of any Russian Emperor.
Her love life
Catherine is said to have had a tremendous sexual appetite, and is said to have had 22 lovers, e.g. Count Orlov, Count Potempkin, etc
Her manner of getting a new lover was this : she would ask her present lover to help her get a new one. The young man had to be handsome, tall and of noble birth, preferably an officer in a renowned Russian Guards regiment, e.g.the Preobrazhensky Regiment, Semenovsky Regiment, Izmailovsky Regiment, etc..
The young man was carefully studied by Catherine's present lover. He had to have good manners and be cultured. Once spotted, he was gradually promoted repeatedly and posted to positions nearer and nearer Catherine's household, without informing him why this is being done, and ultimately he found himself in Catherine's bed.:
The present lover was then given large properties and other gifts, so that he remained happy and loyal, though now no longer with access to Catherine's bed.