HIS-112-02 World Civilization II
March 31, 2011
Catherine the Great Dreams in Colors of Enlightenment
The seventeen hundreds were filled with unrest, revolts and the spread of new ideas such as the Enlightenment of society. A society first authored by the French philosophes and spread by means of the cultural writings of Montesquieu and Rousseau. In such a time of turmoil some European rulers took note and understood the need for reform within their governments, reform that hoped to centralize the power and control over their lands, while also providing structures to serve the needs of the people. Leaders who were open to these new ideas of thought hoped to gain the support of the masses and provide their country with an economically sound future. Catherine the Great of Russia was one such leader. Her understanding and appreciation of the Enlightenment movement lead her to commission a review of this new theory in governing and to outline policies which could promote the future of the Russian people. As well-meaning as Catherine’s intentions were, her efforts were quickly to be cut short and mostly undone. Catherine the Great embraced Enlightened Absolutism; yet fell short in completely implementing its theories into her Autocratic Rule. In exploring the relationship of Catherine’s Enlightenment efforts to the outcomes one must first understand Catherine’s views of Enlightened Absolutism and how these views were spelled out in her “Proposals for the New Law Code”; second, how these efforts would be implemented to strengthen the Russian empire in theory; and last, the final outcomes of her efforts in reforming her government, using the
Enlightenment movement as a foundation for setting policy.
Catherine the Great, being culturally educated, had a very focused view of the Enlightened Absolutism movement, referencing the successes by Peter The Great and always including in her policy outlines the original Enlightenment...