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Catherine II or Catherine the Great empress of all Russia did much to continue the process of Westernization reforms began by Peter the Great Catherine was devoted to art literature science and politics Many people say she had a great gift and was a great leader thus she was awarded with the name the Great She helped develop schools hospitals and many other organizations for the country She was a shrewd leader and autocrat and helped to continue and further reforms made by Peter the Great finally making Russia a permanent European power Originally named Sophie Frederick Augusta Princess of Anholt-Zerbst she was born in Stettin on May 2 1729 the daughter of the German prince of Anholt-Zerbst At the age of fifteen she went to Russia and married Grand Duke Peter of Holstein Peter the Greats grandson nephew to Elizabeth the Empress of Russia at that time and heir to the Russian throne Catherine was disappointed with her marriage but decided to stick it out and concentrate on building herself a powerful group of allies Catherine occupied herself with reading everything she could lay her hands on She discovered satisfaction in the works of Plato and Voltaire The years passed and there was still no heir in sight This of course irritated Empress Elizabeth who wanted to secure a powerful dynasty and could not do so without the presence of a male heir She thought it must be Catherines fault because she was not attracted to her husband However it was Peter that was not able to produce a male son so Elizabeth permitted an affair between Catherine and a Russian military officer named Serge Saltykov Catherine finally gave birth to a son whom the Empress named Paul on September 20 1754 Peter accepted it the child his own and three years later on December 20 1957 she gave birth to her daughter Anna Petrovna Romanov Elizabeth died on December 25 1761 and
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