Catherine The Great: An Enlightened Rule

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Catherine the Great Catherine the Great was an absolute ruler who, inspired by the philosophy of reasoning and logical thought in Europe regarded as the Enlightenment period in the 18th century, implemented policies and principles that reflected these ideas and hence was undoubtedly an Enlightened ruler to a significant extent. She was particularly aligned with the ideas of philosophes Voltaire, Montesquieu and Beccaria, and introduced Western influences as well as Enlightened concepts that were the necessary foundations of the modernisation of Russia. Catherine’s reformation of the educational system proved to be a wise decision as she opened it to all classes and both men and women, hence reinforcing her status as an Enlightened ruler. Moreover,…show more content…
Her position regarding serfdom, however, questions whether or not she was truly an Enlightened empress due to her neglection of the liberty of serfs. In spite of that, Catherine ultimately enforced Enlightened reforms where it proved beneficial to Russia although she limited these changes if they would threaten her claim to the throne. Catherine succeeded in reforming the educational system of Russia using ideas aligned with the Enlightenment in order to achieve a more advanced and sophisticated structure of schooling. She was educated from a young age and was fond of French books and literature, and as a result, acknowledged the importance of education for women. In 1764, she founded the Smolny Institute for girls. Although this academy was initially only open to noble maidens, it eventually expanded to incorporate middle-class girls, and was the first state-funded higher education institution for women in…show more content…
In 1775, she decreed a Statue for the Administration of the Provinces of the Russian Empire, and this divided Russia into provinces and districts in accordance with population statistics. Each province was provided with administrative, political and judicial systems, as well as a governor who would act in place of the empress. Her decisions proved undeniably beneficial to the government by adding depth into its structure, and by the end of her reign, 50 provinces and nearly 500 districts had been established, the number of government officials had almost doubled, and spending on local governance had increased sixfold. A letter by a French diplomat, Baron de Breteuil, reveals that she “will endeavour to reform the administration of justice and to invigorate the laws”, thus reiterating her dissemination of Enlightened ideas and her consideration of reason and critical thinking in order to determine the most pragmatic approaches to bettering the Russian government. Furthermore, due to a deficiency of silver and copper coins from large government spending, she established the first Assignation Bank of Russia in 1769 in order to strengthen the Russian economy. Under the authority of the state, it conducted financial operations, one of the most notable being the creation and distribution of the first Russian banknote called assignats. These were issued in
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