Russia has seen leaders come and go under all sorts of arrangements, but this subalbum covers the one who is arguably Russia's best leader from Viking days to present. Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg took the name Ekaterina Alexeievna when she converted from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy. She started her reign as an enlightened despot after surviving in a snake (or is it bear) pit with her unstable husband, another imported German brought in to act as successor by Tsaritsa Elizabeth. One of them had to go and it was him, probably assassinated by Alexei Orlov on his own initiative. Her early images as Tsaritsa show her in full dress near symbols of authority while one shows her hard at work next to books and a bust of Peter the Great. Sophie was stressing her right to rule as Catherine. But she was willing to pose in casual dress towards the end of her life, with interludes posing as a dispenser of justice. The French Revolution and problems trying to rule without much help from the not-so-enlightened nobility caused her to retain power throughout her reign while she probably would have been happy to transition to being a constitutional monarch earlier in her reign. Her Wikipedia article is here.