Lead: Catherine, the new Empress of Russia, was about to be discarded by her husband of 18 years. As always, her resourcefulness turned aside disaster and her ruthless ambition made her Catherine the Great.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Burdened with a feckless husband and limited prospects, Catherine, the German consort of the future Czar, secured her position through powerful male allies, intellectual curiosity, and a clever ruthlessness that eventually made her a great monarch. During nearly two decades of marriage, while husband Peter frittered away his reputation on aimless living and an unwise fascination with Prussian King Frederick II, Catherine built alliances with important parts of the Russian ruling class. She cultivated the Empress Elizabeth. Her well-chosen lovers numbered among the most powerful men in the kingdom. In contrast to her husband, she was aggressively patriotic and, despite a prodigious and wide-ranging sex life, a generous devotee of the Russian Orthodox Church.