Portrait of Catherine I.
1717. Oil on canvas. The Financial Department of Florence, Italy. More. [Order a Print][Order a Hand-Painted Reproduction]
(1684-1727) - Empress of Russia after 1725, after the death of her husband Peter I the Great. She was of lowly birth, probably descendant from Lithuanian peasants. She was Roman Catholic and married at the age of 16 to a Swedish soldier, who then abandoned her. She was captured during the Great Northern War and became a mistress to Russian general Boris Sheremetyev, then to Russian principal minister Prince Alexander Menshikov, by whom she was given to Tzar Peter in 1705. He married her in 1712 and in 1724, after passing the new law of succession, nominated her his successor. After his death in 1725, Prince Menshikov ensured her succession. During her short reign she continued her husband's reforms