The Influence Of Catherine The Great: Enlightened Absolutism

1098 Words5 Pages
The Enlightenment, the intellectual movement that stressed reason and individualism rather than tradition, sparked a change in the political systems of many Eastern and Central European rulers during the eighteenth century. Before the Enlightenment, the majority of rulers relied on absolutism and expected strict adherence to their laws. However, following the Enlightenment the philosophes, intellectuals involved in the movement, believed that it was crucial to educate the monarchs about the emergence of new ideals, which could be applied to their governments. Because the European monarchs were among the most educated in society, they were attracted to any ideas that could improve or reform society. The resulting ideal coined the term “enlightened…show more content…
Unlike Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great rejected the social contract theory of the Enlightenment. However, Catherine the Great had three goals in mind once she claimed the throne, which could be achieved with the use of Enlightenment ideas. First of all, she worked to introduce the culture of Western Europe to Russia, that was previously introduced by Peter the Great. In order to achieve this goal, Catherine the Great imported architects, sculptors, artists, and intellectuals from the West. Furthermore, Catherine the Great was a patron of the arts, meaning that she bought several pieces of Western art to show her support. Consequently, Catherine the Great became the symbol of the Russian nobility. Also, her second goal was domestic reform and improving the laws of Russia was her major concern during her reign. One of the major triumphs of Catherine the Great was her restriction of torture and religious toleration as well as improving the education system in Russia. Although, the downside of Catherine the Great’s reign was that the nobility had special privileges and serfdom was rather oppressive; creating a social division between the classes. The last goal of Catherine the Great was territorial expansion, in which she was able to partition part of Poland along with Frederick of Prussia and Austria. Overall, Catherine the Great was a woman of the Enlightenment who applied those ideals to her reign and was able to civilize Russia as a
Open Document