Catherine, throughout her long reign, took many lovers, often elevating them to high positions for as long as they held her interest, and then pensioning them off with gifts of serfs and large estates. The percentage of state money spent on the court increased from 10.4% in 1767 to 11.4% in 1781 to 13.5% in 1795. Catherine gave away 66,000 serfs from 1762–72, 202,000 from 1773–93, and 100,000 in one day: 18 August 1795 Though Catherine's life and reign included remarkable personal successes, they ended with two failures. Her Swedish cousin (once removed), King Gustav IV Adolph, visited her in September 1796, the Empress's intention being that her granddaughter Alexandra should become Queen of Sweden by marriage. A ball was given at the imperial court on 11 September, when the engagement was supposed to be announced. Gustav Adolph felt pressured to accept the fact that Alexandra would not be converting to Lutheranism, and though he was delighted by the young lady, he refused to appear at the ball and left for Stockholm. Catherine was so irritated at this, her health was affected. She recovered well enough to begin to plan a ceremony where a favourite grandson would supersede her difficult son on the throne, but she died of a stroke before the announcement could be made, just over two months after the engagement ball.
Location: Scottish National Museum, Edinbnurgh. Scotland. UK.