European Influence In 18th Century Russia

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Russia’s historical experience was eccentric but yet not completely divorced from European influence. In fact, in the 18th century European contemporary ideas were deliberately brought to Russia with a view to modernize its alleged medieval existence. Many contemporaries claim the ruler of that period, Peter I, the Great, to have transformed Russia “from non-existence into being” (Hughes 2009, 165). Or also as the English author Harold Nicolson wrote: “It was Peter the Great who, within a quarter of a century, transformed Russia from a barbaric Asiatic principality into a centralized monarchy, capable of playing its part in the European balance of power.” (Nicolson 2009, 81). Later in the eighteenth century, under Catherine II, Peter’s companion in imitating Europe by giving Russia as she puts it “a more European appearance”, some reforms, such as the “Instruction” or “Nakaz” was put forward. She asserted equality in law to be essential for individual liberty and the rule of law for internal administration- the principles that were founded on Montesquieu and other French philosophers at that time. Nevertheless, she understood the limits of her ambitions by emphasizing the local culture, which should be taken into consideration as she said, and therefore often claiming “its…show more content…
“In 1767 Catherine summoned an assembly to draft a new code of laws for Russia and gave detailed instructions to the members about the principles they should apply. (The proposed code never went into effect.) The code drips with "enlightend language": the reality of government in Russia was rather different.” (From Letter of Baron de Breteuil). And still, she wanted to be seen as a successful Enlightenment leader. This can be deduced from Denis Diderot’s letter to the Catherine the Great in 1774, in which
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