However, her loveless marriage did not overshadow her intellectual and political interests.A sharp-witted and cultured young woman, she read widely, particularly in French.She liked novels, plays, and verse but was particularly interested in the writings of the major figures of the French Enlightenment (a period of cultural and idealistic transformation in France), such as Diderot (1713–1784), Voltaire (1694–1778), and Montesquieu (1689–1755).
On June 28, 1762, with the aid of her lover Gregory Orlov, she rallied the troops of St.
Petersburg to her support and declared herself Catherine II, the sole ruler of Russia.
Soon after Catherine converted to the Russian Orthodox faith, she and the young Grand Duke were married in 1745.
The marriage turned out to be an unhappy one in which there was little evidence of love or even affection.
Peter was soon unfaithful to Catherine, and after a time she became unfaithful to him.
Whether Peter was the father of Paul and Anna, the two children recorded as their offspring, remains a question.
Unlike her husband, the German-born Catherine took care to demonstrate her dedication to Russia and the Russian Orthodox (an independent branch of the Christian faith) faith.
This loyalty, she thought, would earn her a rightful place on the throne and win support of the Russian people.
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The Russian empress Catherine II, known as Catherine the Great, reigned from 1762 to 1796.