Reign 1762-96 Catherine the Great – Catherine II of Russia – is said to have died when trying to have sex with a horse and the rope being used to lower the horse onto her slipped. This is not true. It is a myth put round by her enemies to dirty her name.
A second myth was that she died while on the toilet – and was so fat she cracked the toilet. She died in bed, of natural causes, surrounded by her friends and carers.
In those days, strong women were often put down using lies about sex. The horse rumour is thought to have started in France. There were similar sex lies about unpopular queen Marie Antionette.
Catherine II of Russia began her life as a minor German princess. She was married to the Grand Duke Peter of Russia at age 16.
By 33, she had overthrown her husband in a bloodless coup and established herself as empress of the largest state in history, the Russian Empire.
She died in bed, of natural causes, surrounded by her friends and carers.