Catherine the Great
In the deadly chess game of imperial power, Catherine begins as a pawn. Brought from a German province to be married off to Grand Duke Peter, the simple-minded heir to the Russian throne, the princess must learn the "brutal business" of politics and find her niche in a court where it seems everyone is against her. With a husband who despises her and prefers to carouse and romp with his mistress, she takes lovers of her own; using her beauty, charm, and intelligence, she forms alliances and plots to seize power when Empress Elizabeth dies. She takes the first opportunity to do so and succeeds, wrenching the crown from the feckless Peter. A pawn no longer and a disciple of the Enlightenment, Catherine works to further the vision of Elizabeth and of Peter the Great before her: expanding Russia and bringing it further into the modern world. But even with all the power of the queen and the prestige of the king on the courtly chessboard, Catherine knows she is not invincible. With war on her doorstep, and conspiracies and unrest at her back, she must maneuver carefully and wield her power absolutely in order to survive and to control her empire, even at the cost of her personal happiness.
Keywords: catherine the great