Catherine the Great

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Catherine the Great

Catherine Auguste was born on May 2, 1729, in the German principality of Anhalt- Zerbst. Her mother was Princess Johanna Elizabeth of Holstein- Gottorp; her father was Christian August, genral in the Prussian Army. Their connection to Holstein brought additional power to their family. Catherine recieved formal education from a tutor who taught her religion, history, and French. When she was 15, she met the boy who her parents had arranged for her to marry- Karl Ulrich, German duke of Holstein- Gottorp and grandson of Peter I. He was in line to inherit the Russion throne. Catherine assumed Grand Duchess Catherine Alekseyevena and married Peter in 1745. Peter was a difficult man who had personality disorders and was an alcoholic. He brought Catherine much humiliation during their 18 years of marraige, and she decieved him with many lovers, but the maraige did give them one son, Paul. In January of 1762, Empress Elizabeth died and Peter was passed the throne, now Peter III. Peter was unfit to rule and was devoted to Frederick II of Prussia. (during the time of Russia and Prussia's war) Peter made peace with Frederick and made plans to thwart Catherine's ambitions and have her removed from the court. Catherine had the supprt of the military and the royal guard, who helped her sieze power. She also had the support of most of the aristocratic class. Peter was abdicated and retired to his country estate, where he was killed one week later by Catherine's supporters. Catherine was a dedicated ruler who was excited about the idea of forming a national culture. Though she admired admired the ideas of Enlightenment theorists, she knew that the ideas would be difficult to implement on Russia. She turned to communism in 1767 to compile a new code of laws and provide delegates with a set of instructions that were voluminous and liberal. She asserted that all subjects should be equal before the law, torture should be abolished, capital punishment should be used in only extreme circumstances, and religious dissent should be tolerated. She did not advocate dismantaling serfdom, but raised questions about its legitamacy. In 1768, war with Russia's traditional enemy, the Ottoman Empire, brought early victories. Rebellion erupted in the Ural Mountains in 1773 and spread uprisings across the empire. About 30,000 rebels raided towns and cities, burned houses of noblemen, and tortured government officials. The rebel troops readied to invade Moscow in 1774, but luckily veteran forces were able to crush the rebellion in 1775. The rebellion caused an attitude change for Catherine in how she treated Russia's poor majority. She now worked to enhance he bondage of Russia's agricultural laborers. She imposed serfdom (slavery) where it had not previously existed, (Ukraine) and used forced labor on 95% of the population. In 1785, Catherine issued the Charter of Nobility that freed noblemen from their obligaions towards the government, where they now did not have to pay direct taxes or face corporal punishment. Catherine focused on education and healthengaged to make the government more efficient and expand the education system. She began elementary and high schools, as well as a college of medicine at the University of Moscow. Catherine encouraged treatment effective against smallpox. Her government also tackled a massive builing campaign. Catherine improved Russian empire during her rule. Her most famous achievments were the expansion of Russa under her rule and her improvements to Russian culture, education, and health. She died on November 17, 1796, in St. Petersburg at the age of 67.

Foreign Affairs

One of Catherine the Great's main accomplishments was expanding the Russian empire. She was aggressive and realistic in her foreign relations. She annexed territory along the Baltic coast and through Poland. In 1783, she established the city of Odessa. In 1787, Russia entered an alliance with Austria and went to war with the Ottomans again. At the end of this, Catherine gained complete control of Crimea. In 1793, Catherine sent troops into Poland and obtained most of Lithuania and western Ukraine. In 1795, she had obtained the rest of Lithuania and Ukraine, along with Courland. Russia had gained 190, 000 square miles.

Absolute Monarch?


"Catherine the Great." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014."Catherine II." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014."Catherine II of Russia." Wikispaces Classroom, n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2014"Catherine the Great." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.


Catherine the Great(Reign: 1762-1796)

"Happiness and unhappiness are in the heart and spirit of each one of us: If you feel unhappy, then place yourself above that and act so that your happiness does not get to be dependent on anything."

Catherine the Great was an absolute monarch. Though she was not an extreme one, she does display actions of one. Originally, she was gernerous and asserted that all subjects should be equal. However, this changed following the rebellion, which caused her to impose serfdom onto most of Russia's poorer population. She enforced the Charter of Nobility, which excluded many nobles from having to pay personal taxes of face corporal punishment. Catherine gave more rights to nobles while taking away the rights of the poorer class, and did not treat her people equally. Also, Catherine was largely set on expanding the Russian empire, which caused a lot of war. This was only due to her pesonal wishes of expansion. Both of these characteristics show her to be an absolute monarch.


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