Catherine II of Russia

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Catherine II (Russian: Екатерина II Великая, Yekaterina II Velikaya), also known as Catherine the Great (German: Katharina die Große), was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Germany on 2 May [O.S. 21 April] 1729 as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg. She reigned as Empress of Russia from 9 July [O.S. 28 June] 1762 after the assassination of her husband, Peter III, just after the end of the Seven Years' War until her death on 17 November [O.S. 6 November] 1796.

Under her direct auspices the Russian Empire expanded, improved its administration, and continued to modernize along Western European lines. Catherine's rule re-vitalized Russia, which grew stronger than ever and became recognized as one of the great powers of Europe. She had successes in foreign policy and oversaw sometimes brutal reprisals in the wake of rebellion (most notably Pugachev's Rebellion).

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