Catherine was certainly no saint, in fact after her husband Peter ascended to the throne, he was to be overthrown and she declared Empress. Living separately at that point, Catherine and Peter had both taken lovers, and because of Peters admiration of Germany ,Catherine had the support of the army, Peter was to die soon after, with inconclusive evidence suggesting some involvement of Catherine. She was to expand the Russian empire into Central Europe, partitioning Poland three times. It was partly to keep the Polish aristocracy on her side that she was keen to retain the Jesuit Colleges.
She is sometimes referred to the Enlightened Empress, pursuing modernising and Western policies. However this passion for social reform was to soon dry out as during her long reign she was to become more and more conservative as she realised she needed the support of nobility to prevent rebellion. She deftly played the Papacy and the Bourbon Powers against each other and the Society of Jesus was a useful pawn for this. Remaining neutral in the American War of Independence, Spain and France were increasingly anxious that she would intervene on behalf of the British. This threat was useful in toning down their protests and pressure on the Pope to deal with the Jesuits in Russia.