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Catherine II

(1729—1796) empress of Russia

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Empress of Russia (1762–96). A German princess, she was made empress following a plot that deposed her husband Peter III (1728–62). Her attempted social and political reforms were impeded by entrenched aristocratic interests and in later years her reign became increasingly conservative. Under Catherine's rule, Russia played an important part in European affairs, participating in the three partitions of Poland and forming close links with Prussia and Austria, while to the south and east further territorial advances were made at the expense of the Turks and Tartars.

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