Catherine II of Russia (2 May 1729 - 17 November 1796), aka CatherineTheGreat, was, as her epithet states, one of the great rulers of TsaristRussia, expanding the size, influence, and progress of the vast nation.

She wasn't actually born part of the Russian royal family (although had some distant relations). She was a {{Princess}} of one of the [[AllTheLittleGermanies many principalities of pre-imperial Germany]]. [[ArrangedMarriage A marriage was arranged]] between her and the future Peter III of Russia. After he ascended the throne, some of his reforms and military actions angered the nobility, and they conspired with Catherine to overthrow him, although her reasons were more personal.

She was unable to make all the reforms she wanted, like fixing the serf system in Russia, and she even had to slow down reforms after TheFrenchRevolution twisted many of the principles of the enlightenment movement she was (supposedly) previously basing her reign on. While criticising many aspects of Russian society, [[RuleAbidingRebel she was also capable of repressing intellectuals whose criticism of serfdom was too subversive]].

Despite the good she did for her country, there were still some bits of slander and libel about her, particularly her love life.

There have been a few works about her, notably ''TheScarletEmpress'' staring Creator/MarleneDietrich. That same year there was film about here just called ''Catherine The Great'' starring Elisabeth Bergner and DouglasFairbanksJr. Later there was ''Young Catherine'' starring Julia Ormond, and a tv movie ''Catherine The Great'' [[TheDanza starring]] Creator/CatherineZetaJones. She was also a major character in ''LeChevalierDEon''. She's also, naturally, a major character in some Russian {{Swashbuckler}} movies, such as ''The Gardemarines'' and the recent miniseries ''Catherine's Musketeers''. She appeared in the movie ''RussianArk'' watching a play of her own composition and telling everyone to praise it. ValentinPikul's novel ''Favourite'' tells the story of Catherine and Potemkin both as lovers and as statepersons.
!!Tropes about her and the works about her:

* [[AdiposeRex Adipose Regina]]: Towards the middle to the end of her reign, she put on a substantial amount of weight (which was expected of royals back then anyway). Fortunately, she seems to have gotten to this point rather gracefully; see BigBeautifulWoman below.
* ArrangedMarriage: Catherine and Peter III's.
* AwesomeMomentOfCrowning: Works that show her coronation.
** In the Catherine Zeta Jones movie, it's explicitly an InvokedTrope; she says that ''not'' having an awesome coronation was one of her husband's many failures, and a coronation will serve to gain the respect of advisors and the people.
* BadassBookworm: Catherine
* BalanceOfPower: How she tries to keep her advisors from gaining too much power.
* BestialityIsDepraved: She emphatically did ''not'' have sex with her horse, but the rumor is so widespread that it is almost impossible to read any prolonged account of her life without seeing it mentioned.
* BigBeautifulWoman: Unlike many [[AdiposeRex overweight royals]], Catherine's extra poundage never hindered her beauty, and even when she aged past that it just helped her GrandeDame image.
* BigGood: In the series ''Catherine's Musketeers''. You can tell by the name, really.
* {{Blackmail}}: Gregory Orlov makes an attempt, but is bought off.
* CadreOfForeignBodyguards: Peter III had Prussian guards.
* TheCaligula: Peter III.
* TheCasanova: Serge Saltykov.
* CommonKnowledge: How she died.
** In XIX-century Russia, there was another dirty legend of her death, saying she died while in the outhouse. Some even theoretized she was stabbed from underside by someone.
*** It most probably is TruthInTelevision, except she didn't die in an outhouse ''per se'', as going into a filthy and nasty outhouse was unbecoming of the royal dignity. Most nobles of the time used commodes chairs with the built-in chamber pots.[[note]]Does this mean "[[Series/TheSopranos Cici died takin' a shit]]"?[[/note]]
* CrowningMomentOfAwesome: When Catherine is threatened with guns, she [[DeathGlare glares at the soldiers]] and walks right on.
* DeadpanSnarker: She once sarcastically told her nobles "Be so good as to call your peasants cattle".
* DirtyOldWoman: She remained sexually active well into her golden years.
* DoubleStandard: Like most emperors and empresses Catherine had a (long) line of affairs, but hers were looked down on more than the others, even disregarding her gender. The problem with Catherine II's affairs was who they were with and why she was having them: for power.
* DrinkOrder: Well, not her ''personally'', but upon her orders the [[RussiansWithRifles Imperial Army]] ordered beer from England to supplement the troops' diet and hopefully wean them off [[VodkaDrunkenski vodka]]. The result was the Russian Imperial Stout, which--to satisfy both the need for preservation and Russian tastes--is one of the strongest styles of beer in the world (averaging 8-9% abv) and quite popular...[[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff among American beer snobs]].
* EmergencyImpersonation: Pugachev pretending to be Peter III.
* ErmineCapeEffect: Even when she traveled undercover.
* EverybodyKnewAlready: The existence of her bastard son by Orlov, Alexei, who Catherine herself acknowledged privately, but who wasn't officially acknowledged until after she had died. No one was surprised.
* AFatherToHisMen: Potemkin.
* GermanRussians
* GoingNative[=/=]ImmigrantPatriotism: She may not have been born Russian, but she ended up fully embracing her adopted nation.
* GrandeDame
* GrandmaWhatMassiveHotnessYouHave: She was still physically attractive well into her 60's, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Empress_Catherine_The_Great_1787_%28Mikhail_Shibanov%29.JPG as her late portraits show]]. At least, her later lovers never complained about doing it only for money and status.
* TheHighQueen: Catherine intentionally [[InvokedTrope invoked]] this trope during her reign. She styled herself "the Russian Minerva" and "Semiramis of the North" and tried to give an impression of possessing unearthly wisdom and grandeur. Even [[DeadpanSnarker wise-cracking]] libertines like Voltaire and Diderot were awed by her well-orchestrated posturing.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Most of them.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Regardless of Peter III's RealLife character, portrayals of him are that he's highly abusive or downright insane.
* HollywoodHistory
* InherentInTheSystem: Why it is hard to better the lot of serfs.
* KickTheDog: The murder of Ivan VI, who was a legitimate, though [[AChildShallLeadThem minor]], emperor deposed and imprisoned by Empress Elizabeth at toddler age and grown up in the prison. Also the fate of Princess Tarakanova, whose real identity is still unknown to historians (she pretended to be Empress Elizabeth's illegitimate daughter).
* TheLadette
* LonelyAtTheTop: Catherine.
* LoveRuinsTheRealm: Inverted. Many of her lovers ended up helping Russia.
** Potemkin when he had command.
* ManInTheIronMask: Ivan VI Antonovich Romanov, whom she had to remove when some plotting guardsmen tried to free and reinstate him on the throne.
* ManlyTears: Potemkin
* [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bitch]]
* MrsRobinson: She frequently took on young men as lovers (sometimes arranged by previous lovers).
* NeverLiveItDown: The horse, even though it's a myth.
* PimpedOutDress
* PornStash: Catherine sent her agents out to scour Europe for the finest Western pornography.
* PraetorianGuard: Subverted. Peter III's Prussian guards made the hate against him grow. Russia had just been at war with Prussia.
* PrettyInMink: It is Russia, which meant warmth as well as style.
* RagsToRoyalty: Catherine was from a very obscure noble family, but went on to become empress of Russia.
* ReallyGetsAround: Infamous for her penchant for young, well-built men. Most of her favorites turned out to be pretty good statesmen, though.
* RebelLeader: Pugachev.
* RequisiteRoyalRegalia
* RightHandHottie: Platon Zubov and many lesser known ones. She was fond of those.
* RoyalBlood: She was part of a principality's royal family.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: Catherine ruled and expanded Russia.
* RuleAbidingRebel: While writing many plays satirising contemporary Russian nobility, she didn't like people who took that criticism too far.
* ShellShockedVeteran: Potemkin.
* StarCrossedLovers: Actually, every Russian empress regnant had it hard, except for Catherine I (who was a quite normal widow without a new romance).
* StrangeBedfellows: Bestuzhev and Vorontsov.
* SuccessionCrisis: What you get when the heir is insane.
* UnlimitedWardrobe: Owned thousands of dresses.
* UnwantedSpouse: Peter and Catherine both view the other as such.
* WarIsHell
* WelcomeBackTraitor: Elizabeth forgives Catherine for her secret correspondence with her generals.