A PHILOSOPHER ON THE THRONE
Catherine II is the only female ruler in history to be given the epithet “the Great”.
This energetic monarch strengthened the economy of her country and reformed its administration. She was full of the joys of life, very well educated, made music and kept in close correspondence with Voltaire, the most influential thinker of the Enlightenment. Catherine II strongly supported culture and the arts, and opened up her empire to modern European ideas.
She issued a manifesto inviting foreign immigration, calling on people from Western Europe to settle in Russia and discover its lakes and rivers as well as “all of its sundry precious ores and metals.” An expedition was started in 1765 at the behest of the Tzarina to develop new sources of jasper, agate and carnelian in the Urals. Several years later, Catherine the Great commissioned a unique monument to the natural wealth of her country.