Catherine the Great
-She was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from July 9 [O.S. June 28] 1762 until her death at the age of sixty-seven. She was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, and came to power following a coup d'étatand the assassination of her husband, Peter III, at the end of the Seven Years' War. Russia was revitalised under her reign, growing larger and stronger than ever and becoming recognised as one of the great powers of Europe.
-The period of Catherine the Great's rule, the Catherinian Era, is often considered the Golden Age of the Russian Empire and theRussian nobility. The Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility, issued during the short reign of Peter III and confirmed by Catherine, freed Russian nobles from compulsory military or state service. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical style endorsed by the Empress, changed the face of the country. A notable example of enlightened despot, a correspondent of Voltaireand an amateur opera librettist, Catherine presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, when the Smolny Institute, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established.