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Catherine the Great

Catherine II of Russia (2 May 1729 - 17 November 1796), aka Catherine the Great, was, as her epithet states, one of the great rulers of Tsarist Russia, 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 many principalities of pre-imperial Germany. 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 The French Revolution twisted many of the principles of the enlightenment movement she was (supposedly) previously basing her reign on. While criticising many aspects of Russian society, 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 The Scarlet Empress staring Marlene Dietrich. That same year there was film about here just called Catherine The Great starring Elisabeth Bergner and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Later there was Young Catherine starring Julia Ormond, and a tv movie Catherine The Great starring Catherine Zeta Jones. She was also a major character in Le Chevalier d'Eon. 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 Russian Ark watching a play of her own composition and telling everyone to praise it. Valentin Pikul's novel Favourite tells the story of Catherine and Potemkin both as lovers and as statepersons.

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