A beautiful and sexually charged woman, Princess Catherine used modern tactics to conquer both the hearts of her people and the land she broadminded. She boasted a brilliant thirty-four year reign over Russia, campaigning vast renovations to her country and employing thoughtful emotion in her tasks. Born Sophia Augusta Frederika of Anhalt-Zerbst on April 21, 1729 in Stettin, then Germany, Catherine II voyaged to become one of the most loved and enlightened rulers of the eighteenth century. The Great, as she became to be known as, fought feverishly to promote Western philosophies and ideals to irrational and disorganized Russia.
First she machinated her husbands death, Tsar Peter III, to end his infertile rule and bring Russia to the civilized state with the rest of Europe. She worked relentlessly from early morning to late night. She sought out to improve all facets within her society, ranging from the education system, the arts, and to the treatment of the impoverished. There were few schools in Russia. She started to convert a convent in St. Petersburg into a boarding school for girls, the Smolny Institute. Catherine imported German, Austrian and French craftsmen to update the Imperial porcelain works.
She decided that the paramount task would be to augment techniques in the agricultural regions. When she re-organized the provinces in 1775, she ordered that each provincial capital must have a hospital; each county with a population between 20,000 and 30,000 should have a doctor and all other required assistants. Catherine’s efforts prompted her gentry to follow her example. Catherine The Great possessed majesty without being pretentious. She was neither cruel nor inhuman. Over the years she endured hurtful criticism, rebellion, war and rift from her son, whom she thought unqualified of ruling Russia.
As Empress, she showered her grandsons with a great deal of love, but there was a void she tried to fill with the many relationships she formed with men. Perhaps biographers misunderstood her many attachments, ultimately she just craved for affection. Empress Catherine The Great was a splendidly educated woman who held high aspirations for her country and self. Though she skillfully accomplished much, her detractors and cynics often embellished her reputation as one of the most prominent and enlightened monarchs of her time.