Catherine II. Empress and Autocrat of All the Russias
Catherine II (2 May [O.S. 21 April] 1729 – 17 November [O.S. 6 November] 1796), also known as Catherine the Great, born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country’s longest-ruling female leader and arguably its most renowned, regardless of gender. She came to power following a coup d'état when her husband, Peter III, was assassinated. Russia was revitalised under her reign, growing larger as well as stronger in military terms and becoming recognised as one of the great powers of Europe.