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Catherine the Great in Russian History - Essay Example

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Catherine the Great in Russian History
“Catherine the Great's rein in roughly the lat third of the [18th] Century witnessed a remarkable growth and intensification of Russian Cultural life” (Riasanovsky 284)…
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Catherine the Great in Russian History
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Download file to see previous pages Peter the Great (1682 – 1725) was fascinated by Western Europe and its advancements in the late 1600s so he took steps to modernize Russia and set up economic programs, a strong armed forces and a centralized administration. However, due to hostilities with his son, Peter the Great failed to designate a successor. This led to a power vacuum after his death. In 1762, Peter III became Tsar but he was weak and incompetent so he was overthrown and murdered. His wife, Catherine, a German Princess from Pomerania took over affairs of the Kingdom when Peter III passed on. Catherine ruled till 1796. This paper looks at the plans of Catherine the Great and the major areas she changed in Russia as well as an evaluation of her contribution to Russia's Westernization and modernization. Plans of Catherine the Great The plans of Catherine the Great can be seen in some inherent elements of her lifestyle and the principles she embraced as a ruler. “Catherine showed more originality than any previous ruler of Russia and than most rulers at the time in Europe” (Madariage 206). This means that there are some elements in her actions that showed her intentions to improve her country. First of all, her background as a Western European showed that she had a tendency to tilt Russia towards a modernized nation that was on the same level as her German homeland. Thus, it comes as no surprise that she had several inclinations that were similar to Peter the Great who also had a connection to Western Europe. Secondly, there is evidence that Catherine had strong connections to the Enlightenment that was going on in Western Europe during her reign. Gillespie writes that “Although she was quite young, Catherine was deeply invested in acquiring knowledge and became intellectually and politically astute, mainly through reading and writing,” (285). This shows that from the onset, she had a vision of changing her kingdom to match up with other Western European nations. A further evidence is given by Viault who states that Catherine “corresponded actively with Voltaire and other prominent eighteenth-century thinkers” (130). This indicates that Catherine was open to new ideas and was ready to link up the country with the other changes that were going on around her kingdom. From these pointers, it is logical to infer that Catherine the Great had a plan and an intention of Westernizing Russia when she took power. However, the realities on the ground made it quite difficult for her to attain her plans. Implementation of her Plans In order to Westernize Russia, Catherine believed that there was the need to change and modify the educational system of the country. One of the earliest things that Catherine did was to put in place an educational system that was designed to develop individuals intellectually and morally with the end of equipping them with knowledge and skills that would support a sense of civic responsibility and allegiance to the state (Riasonovsky 12). This is because there was a sharp contrast between Russia and Western Europe. And this contrast lied in the fact that the vast majority of Russians were serfs who were forced to remain loyal to the nobles who ruled them. Thus, to promote a sense of national unity and national pride as Russians, she put in place an educational system that promoted national integration as well as independent thinking in order to prepare the people for a Westernized model of nationhood. With the educational system in place, Catherine set off to nurture a system of governance that was similar to the Western nations. Catherine went on to issue the Instructions which was a set of laws that were meant to recognize and respect the rights of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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