Catherine The Great 2 Essay, Research Paper
The woman who was to become Catherine the Great was born Sophie Augusta Fredericka. During her teen years Sophie blossomed into a beautiful young woman and had excellent health. She later went on to marry Peter III the future emperor and grandson of Peter the Great. During her reign as empress Catherine encountered many conflicts, which she surpassed so successfully that even now so many years after her death she is still remembered. Even though she was known to have many lovers during her lifetime and had three illegitimate children two of who survived, her strong spirit, willingness to make Russia a better place, and her political victories made her one of the greatest empress ever.
Throughout her reign as empress Catherine s strong spirit helps her to cope with all the troubles that arise. Catherine was greatly criticized by Elizabeth for not being able to bear children. The empress said, that it was because of her that her marriage had not yet been consummated. (Troyat 57). But what Elizabeth didn t know was that the fault was Peter s who did not consummate the marriage or have the operation, which he needed to reverse his problem. Yet throughout the criticism Catherine kept a stiff upper lip and did not say anything. The empress was cruel to Catherine and yet she continued to be nice and obey the empress. Catherine began to have less freedom and was isolated by Elizabeth slowly everyone that she knew were sent away. The empress dismissed one of Catherine s maids, Maria Zhukova, whose only crime was that she had been completely devoted to her mistress. Shortly after Catherine s first chamberlain, Zahar was also dismissed. (Troyat 56). Catherine was also forbidden to write to anyone without going through the College of Foreign Affairs. (Troyat 59). The empress continued to make life hard for Catherine by not even letting Catherine hold her child after birth or allow her to see him. Catherine said, my sprit was too proud, and the very idea of being unfortunate was unbearable to me. ( Troyat 90). She avoided asking to see her son because she knew that it was to be like this.
Catherine wanted to change Russia and make it a better place for people to live. Firstly, she thought that education was very important to both boys and girls and that they should start to be educated earlier in life. She believed that the children were the future of Russia and they needed to be educated properly. She did this by giving a good deal of attention to projects to build schools, founding the Smolny Institute, an academy designed for five hundred girls and young women. (Erickson 311). She also wanted future doctors to know all the current methods as other European countries in the field of medicine because she only wanted the best for her people. She helped Russia s people and founded and endowed a medical college to educate Russian physicians and apothecaries, and commissioned the first Russian pharmacopoeia . (Erickson 311). She helped landowners find out other types of methods to use on their land. So that they would prosper and so would the economy. She established The Free Economic Society for the Encouragement Of Agriculture and Husbandry. (Alexander 100). This group was established to tell landowners of advanced methods of farming that was practiced throughout other countries. Catherine also corresponded with the philosopher Voltaire because he enlightened her and that was good for making Russia a better place. She continued to model herself, as far as possible, in the likeness of Voltaire . (Erickson 235).
During Catherine s reign she had many political victories. She won many battles on the war front but she was also quite good at political victories. Pugachev tried to overthrow the monarchy but Catherine s army crushed them Romanov troops crushed the revolt in 1774 and Catherine strengthened the oppressive serf laws . (Ransel 28). She was a smart political power who knew just when to strike. Catherine joined Frederick and Joseph II to divide one-third of the Polish kingdom between them. (Erickson 312). She did this at a time when England had troubles in North America, Spain could not do anything, and France was just getting over the death of Louis XV. These countries were to busy dealing with their own problems to even notice. Catherine knew from the very beginning of her rule as empress that she wanted to do more. She wanted an enlightened Russia where people were free to think and to be able to choose your religion. Catherine had new ideas bold assertions of human freedom, of emancipation from the deadweight of tradition. Free-ranging religious thought, fresh and creative approaches to learning. (Erikson 234-235). This made her very popular with her people since the new generation wanted to be more like other countries. Catherine was always a strong woman and had great leadership qualities. She overthrew her husband and became empress. Her quick thinking to draw up some sort of oath that the soldiers and other such important people would take that way if Peter tried to regain Petersburg he wouldn t be able to. Petersburg was secure and Catherine was officially empress. The empress and her advisers dispatched couriers to army and naval units with her manifesto and sheets for signature to the oath of allegiance. They worried that Peter III would find naval forces, infantry and munitions which he might mount an attack on Petersburg. (Alexander 9).
Catherine was the greatest empress that ever lived because she was strong and never let Elizabeth get to her despite the empress countless ways of blaming her. She shows just what a strong spirit she had when Elizabeth would not even let her see her children after she had just been through agonizing labor. Once Catherine was declared empress she tried her best to give Russia a whole bunch of opportunity to better itself. She built new schools, founded medical colleges, and helped landowners to get new skills that other well-respected countries had. She only wanted what was best for her country. She was totally devoted to them and doing what they wanted. During her reign she acquired pieces of Poland, which made their empire even stronger. Considering what she went through she continued to restore Russia to the great country she knew it could be. European countries actually began to consider Russia a top country and all these factors contribute to why she was so great.
Alexander, John T. Catherine the Great. New York: Oxford Press, 1989.
Troyat, Henri. Catherine the Great. France: Flammarion, 1980.
Erickson, Carolly. Great Catherine. New York: Crown Publishers, 1994.
Ransel, David. The Politics of Catherine. Russia: New Haven, 1975