Catherine and Peter were horribly mismatched; she was intellectual, ambitious, pensive, witty, and eager to become the Empress; Peter was pockmarked, immature, boorish, lacked common sense, scorned Russia, and adored Prussia (which earned him many detractors). Catherine, neglected by Peter, studied politics and philosophy while gaining allies for herself. In 1762, she led a coup d'état against Peter, who had become Emperor and was thoroughly disdained.
With Peter out of the way, Catherine set to work on improving and modernizing Russia. Under her, the empire expanded, improved administration, and was revitalized with her humanitarian ideals, although she was ruthless when threatened.
In July 1796, she suffered a stroke in her powder room and died in bed the following day.
While Catherine had twelve lovers in her lifetime, this was tame for an aristocrat of that time.
The great love of Catherine's life was Prince Grigory Potemkin (1739-1791); he was her military leader and her equal intellectually, politically, and socially. She called him "My Tiger", "My Cossack", "My Golden Pheasant".