Cathrine the great Essay

This essay has a total of 1102 words and 5 pages.


cathrine the great




CATHERINE THE GREAT EMPRESS OF ALL RUSSIA Catherine II (a.k.a. Catherine the Great)
Catherine II, or Catherine the Great, empress of all Russia, did much to continue the
process of Westernization reforms began by Peter the Great. Catherine was devoted to art,
literature, science, and politics. Many people say she had a great gift and was a great
leader, thus she was awarded with the name “the Great” She helped develop schools,
hospitals, and many other organizations for the country. She was a shrewd leader and
autocrat and helped to continue and further reforms made by Peter the Great, finally
making Russia a permanent European power. Originally named Sophie Frederick Augusta,
Princess of Anholt-Zerbst, she was born in Stettin on May 2, 1729, the daughter of the
German prince of Anholt-Zerbst . At the age of fifteen she went to Russia and married
Grand Duke Peter of Holstein, heir to the Russian throne. The marriage was despondent, but
intelligent and ambitious Catherine soon managed to assemble up a liaison of supporters.
On October 1, 1754, Catherine gave birth to her son, the future emperor, Paul Petrovich
Romanov, and three years later on December 20, 1957, she gave birth to her daughter, Anna
Petrovna Romanov. Elizabeth died on December 25, 1761, and Catherine’s husband succeeded
as Peter III. Erratic, unstable, and contemptuous of his Russian subjects, the new ruler
soon made himself unpopular, especially with certain German officers. Led by Alexei Orlov
(whose brother Grigori was Catherine’s lover) the officers staged a coup in June 1762.
Peter was deposed (and subsequently murdered) and Catherine was placed on the throne in
his place. Catherine was fascinated with the philosophies and theories of the
Enlightenment, and was well acquainted with the literature of the French Enlightenment,
which was an important influence on her own political influence. She corresponded
extensively with Voltaire and Denis Diderot, gave financial support to them and a number
of other French writers, and played host to Diderot at her court in 1773. Although, this
gesticulation of hospitality was partially aimed at creating a favorable image in Western
Europe, she was probably sincere in her interest and her hope to apply some of the ideas
of the Enlightenment to rationalize and reform the administration of the Russian Empire.
Imbued with the ideas of the Enlightenment, Catherine aimed at completing the job started
by Peter the Great--westernizing Russia--but she had contradictory methods. Rather then
forcing society to reform, she encouraged individual initiative in pursuit of
self-interest. In the early years of her reign, she sought to win the support of the
Russian gentry, and, in particular Despite her interest in legal reform, the commission
she appointed for that purpose failed to accomplish its goals. But eventually, she learned
how to select capable assistants--for example, Nikita Panin in foreign affairs, Alexandre
Suvorov in the military, and Grigori Potemkin in administration. Among Catherine’s more
benevolent achievements were the foundation of the first Russian school for girls and of a
medical college to provide health care for her subjects. In the early years of her reign,
Catherine sought to win the approval of the gentry, which was a small part of Russia’s
population. She succeeded to a degree with the upper class, but did nothing for the
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