Facts, information and articles about Catherine The Great, a Famous Woman In History Catherine The Great Facts Born 5/2/1729 Died 11/6/1796 Spouse Peter III of Russia Accomplishments Empress of Russia; longest-ruling Russian female leader; expansion of Russian boundaries Catherine The Great Articles Explore articles from the History Net archives about Catherine The Great » See all Catherine The Great Articles Catherine The Great summary: Born on May 2, 1729 in Prussia, Yekaterina Alexeevna, later known as Catherine II and Catherine the Great, became Empress of Russia in 1762 and was instrumental in revitalizing Russia and establishing it as a great European power. Catherine began her reign after the assassination of Peter III, her husband, at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War, and she continued ruling Russia until the end of her life, dying from a stroke on November 6th, 1796. During Catherine the Great’s reign, Russia was expanding rapidly due to both diplomacy and conquest; as a result of this expansion, Russian borders spread as far as the Black Sea and Central Europe. Catherine the Great strongly supported both modernization and westernization, an endeavor started by her husband prior to his death. Catherine was also a great proponent of the Enlightenment in Europe, and she promoted the education of Russian citizens. As Catherine aged, she became more conservative in her rule. She continued to rely heavily on the nobility, however, and initiated reforms that would give the nobility more power and control of their lands and the serfs that worked them. As a result, a number of rebellions by serfs occurred during this time period, but the end result was further restrictions on the rights of the serfs and a more diminished status. After her death, her son, Paul, took the throne.