The Empress of Russia for almost 35 years, Catherine the Great was the country's longest-ruling female leader. An ambitious ruler, she rapidly expanded the Russian Empire and is credited with modernizing the country along Western European lines. She supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and the period of her rule—the Catherinian Era—is considered the Golden Age of Russia.
Catherine I of Russia was the second wife and Empress consort of Peter the Great. She served as the Empress regnant of Russia from 1725 until her death in 1727. The daughter of a peasant, she had an adventurous life as a young woman and eventually married Peter the Great who was taken by her beauty. They had 12 children.
Daughter of Ivan V and niece of Peter I, Anna of Russia did not have much interest in the governance of her kingdom and left it in the hands of her beloved Ernst Johann Biron and her advisors. Her “dark reign” witnessed costly wars such as the Russo-Turkish War.
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia, daughter of Emperor Alexander III, was a sickly but studious child. After leaving her first husband, who was homosexual, after a 15-year unconsummated marriage, Olga married Nikolai Kulikovsky and later fled with him and their children to escape the Russian revolution.
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia had been raised as a refined young woman, well-versed in drawing, piano, and gymnastics. Daughter of Tsar Alexander III, Xenia was also fond of writing. Her diary mirrors her thoughts about various topical events. She also devoted herself to charity during World War I.