From the death of Peter the Great to the beginning of Catherine the Great's reign, Moscow throne was occupied by six different monarchs who came to power after dirty palace intrigues and palace revolutions. Two of them - Ivan Antonovich and Peter III - were deposed by force and assassinated. This period was the time of political instability, when the country was mostly ruled by women and minors (so-called "The Petticoat Period"). They all thought little of country's prosperity, paying attention to balls, luxury and fun; although that was good for Russian architecture: many palaces were built and some interesting architectural tendencies were introduced. That concerned mostly St.Petersburg as monarchs preferred to live in this Europeanized city. Only Elizabeth the First (1741-1761), daughter of Peter the Great, decided to live in Moscow periodically, presenting the former capital with a flurry of new buildings. This fun-loving empress is also the one to thank for the foundation of Moscow State University in 1755, the first University in Russia. She was guided by Russia's 18th-century Renaissance man Mikhail Lomonosov, the poet and the scientist in one.
Catherine the Great
In 1762 the wife of Peter III, a German princess, planned a conspiracy, as a result of which her husband was dethroned and killed. Under the name of Catherine II she proved herself as an energetic and intelligent leader. She was one of the most educated monarchs of her time, art and literature lover, even Voltaire and Didro were among her correspondents. Catherine the Great was known to share views of the Enlightenment ideologists, but in fact she was an adherent of Absolutism, Russia under Catherine the Great became a perfect example of an absolute monarchy. Catherine aimed to continue the centralization of power using rough methods, she liquidated self-government in the Ukraine, suppressed many peasant rebellions (Pugachev's Rebellion for example), made territorial gains at the expense of Turkey and Poland. At the same time she carried out a progressive reform of education in Russia, reform of Russia's legal system and some other innovations.