Perhaps one of the greatest female rulers of all time, Catherine the Great, was one the most cunning, ruthless and efficient leaders in all of Russia. Her reign, while not too long, was exceptionally eventful and she made a name for herself in history as she climbed up the ranks of Russian nobility and eventually made her way to the top, becoming the Empress of Russia.
Her life began as the daughter to a minor German nobility; she was born in Stettin, in 1729 to a prince by the name of Christian Augustus. They named their daughter Sophia Augusta and she was raised as a princess, taught all of the formalities and rules that royalty learns. Sophia’s family wasn’t particularly rich and the title of royalty gave them some small ability to gain claim to the throne, but nothing was awaiting them if they didn’t take action. Sophia’s mother, Johanna, was an ambitious woman, a gossip and most importantly, an opportunist. She greatly craved power and the spotlight, knowing that it would be possible for her little girl to someday take hold of the throne. Sophia’s feelings on the matter were mutual as well, for her mother imparted a hope that she could someday become the Empress of Russia.