Russian Monarch. Known as "Catherine the Great of Russia", she was born Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste of Anhalt-Zerbst in Stettin, a military town in Prussia. She was brought to Russia in 1744 at the behest of ruling Czarina Elizabeth I to marry Elizabeth's nephew Peter. She was given a new Russian name, Ekaterina, or Catherine in English when she converted to the Orthodox Church prior to the wedding. After bearing one son, Paul, the marriage turned out to be unsuccessful, and she became isolated from Peter's court. Peter even planned to divorce her, and then marry his girlfriend, a woman named Elizaveta Vorontsova. When Elizabeth died, Peter became Czar Peter III in January 1762. As an unpopular monarch, he alienated the Nobility and Army and was overthrown in June 1762. Approached by the nobility to become ruling Czarina, Catherine accepted, becoming Czarina Catherine II. Peter was murdered shortly afterward, most likely at the orders of Catherine's lover, Grigory Orlov. She proved to be an enlightened ruler and made sweeping, modernizing changes in the government, education system, and health system. She had several lovers during her reign, including Sergei Saltykov, and her enemies spread untrue rumors of many different kinds of perversion about her. She is credited with bringing Russia from the mindset of the Middle Ages to the modern world of the 18th century. Catherine died from a stroke at the age of 67. Her son Paul, was quickly crowned the emperor of Russia. One of his first acts as emperor was to quickly enact a law that only the oldest son could inherit the Russian throne, making Catherine the last woman to rule Russia.
Johanna Elizabeth of Holstein-Gottorp
1728–1762 (m. 1745)