One of history's greatest love stories, Catherine the Great and Potemkin is a sweeping epic of sex, love, power, conquest and extravagance on a magnificent Russian scale. Not only was their romance wildly passionate but they were also probably the most successful political partnership of all, outstripping Antony and Cleopatra or Napoleon and Josephine.
In 1761 Catherine was the wife of Russian Czar Peter III. But after only one year in power, Peter was overthrown (likely with Catherine's help) and killed (she may have given those orders, too) by the Imperial Guard forces in a coup d'état.
It just so happened that, right about the time Peter was meeting his grim fate, Russian soldier Grigory Potemkin was on guard duty ensuring Catherine's safety. Catherine, who would become empress only days later, took a liking to Potemkin, despite the fact that he was obese, vain and missing an eye.
While many of the scandalous stories told about Catherine are not true, she was a woman of great passions, and had many lovers, but she undoubtedly showed the longest fidelity to Potemkin. By 1771, Catherine had made him an official Russian statesman, a count and the commander of her armies.
Although their love affair ended in 1776, Potemkin remained the love of her life. When he died at age 52, Catherine went into a depression from which she never fully recovered.