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Empress Catherine has not been on the throne long and her position is under threat. A German princess who married into the Russian imperial family before usurping her unpopular husband, Peter III, in a palace coup, Catherine is seen by many as illegitimate and unqualified, not to mention a woman.
But Catherine knows she is the best person for the job. With a skill and determination that belie her political inexperience, Catherine foils a plot to restore the former emperor Ivan VI, outmanoeuvres Minister Panin’s efforts to place her petulant son Paul on the throne, and drags Russia into the eighteenth century with a series of liberalizing reforms.