Question: Why did Catharine II. the Great become well known?

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Empress of Russia, born at Stettin, daughter of Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst; "a most-clever, clear-eyed, stout-hearted woman"; became the wife of Peter III., a scandalous mortal, who was dethroned and then murdered, leaving her empress; ruled well for the country, and though her character was immoral and her reign despotic and often cruel, her efforts at reform, the patronage she accorded to literature, science, and philosophy, and her diplomatic successes, entitle her to a high rank among the sovereigns of Russia; she reigned from 1763 to 1796, and it was during the course of her reign, and under the sanction of it, that Europe witnessed the three partitions of Poland. Lived from 1729--1796.
by BetterThanKen
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