Potemkin's rise to power began with his participation in the coup d'tat of 8 July 1762, which drew him to the attention of the new Empress Catherine II (the Great). In 1769 he volunteered for and fought with distinction in the Turkish War. However in 1771 he became Catherine's prime favourite, being made an adjutant-general, lieutenant-colonel of the Preobrazhensky Guards, a member of the council of state, and, in the words of a foreign contemporary diplomat, 'the most influential person in Russia'. Somewhat later he was created a count, and appointed commander-in-chief and governor-general of 'New Russia', as the conquered provinces in the Ukraine were then called. Although in 1775 he was superseded in the Empress' private affections by Zavadovsky, Potemkin remained on excellent terms with his former lover. Still at the centre of state affairs, he devoted himself in particular to the extension of Russia's Black Sea colonies. Possibly the most important Russian statesman of the eighteenth century, Potemkin's reputation is still a matter of contention; he was an able administrator, and could be loyal and magnanimous, but was wanting in self-control, licentious and extravagant.