Catherine-the-Great_Assorted_4sheets - Back to Modern...

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Modern History Sourcebook: Catherine the Great Catherine II (l762-1796), a German princess who became Empress of Russia after disposing of her ineffectual husband was one of the most successful European monarchs. She followed Peter the Great in seeing Russia (which had been part of an Asian Empire for centuries) as European Power. Among her other achievements, added some 200 000 square miles to the territory of the Russian empire. The following letter was written by a French diplomat in Moscow. From Letter of Baron de Breteuil This princess seems to combine every kind of ambition in her person. Everything that may add luster to her reign will have some attraction for her. Science and the arts will be encouraged to flourish in the empire, projects useful for the domestic economy will be undertaken. She will endeavor to reform the administration of justice and to invigorate the laws; but her policies will be based on Machiavellianism; and I should not be surprised if in this field she rivals the king of Prussia. She will adopt the prejudices of her entourage regarding the superiority of her power and will endeavor to win respect not by the sincerity and probity of her actions but also by an ostentatious display of her strength. Haughty as she is, she will stubbornly pursue her undertakings and will rarely retrace a false step. Cunning and falsity appear to be vices in her character; woe to him who puts too much trust in her. Love affairs may become a stumbling block to her ambition and prove fatal for her peace of mind. This passionate princess, still held in check by the fear and consciousness of internal troubles, will know no restraint once she believes herself firmly established. From A Source Book for Russian History, G. Vernadsky, trans. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972), Vol. 2. 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 Catherine II. Proposals for a New Law Code 6. Russia is an European State. 7. This is clearly demonstrated by the following Observations: The Alterations which Peter the Great undertook in Russia succeeded with the greater Ease, because the Manners, which prevailed at that Time, and had been introduced amongst us by a Mixture of different Nations, and the Conquest of foreign Territories, were quite unsuilable to the Climate. Peter the First, by introducing the Manners and Customs of Europe among the European People in his Dominions, found at that Time such Means as even he himself was not sanguine enough to expect. ... 8. The Possessions of the Russian Empire extend upon the terrestrial Globe to 32 Degrees of Latitude, and to
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2011 for the course HIST 131 taught by Professor Jacobmelish during the Winter '11 term at University of Cincinnati.

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Catherine-the-Great_Assorted_4sheets - Back to Modern...

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