Catherine The Great Sometimes In Term Paper

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Notes de Madariaga, "It is hard to argue that Catherine's regime was intellectually oppressive, as many of her detractors have done, in the face of such a clear example of her confidence in the response of society to her rule." (97). A lax censorship and publishing permission epitomized Catherine's personal outlook of encouragement of enterprise in as many fields as possible rather than state control.

Catherine, herself, was a prolific writer. Thousands of sheets of paper covered in her journals have survived. The most noteworthy of all was her 1767 Great Instruction, published to present before the elected representatives of nobles, townspeople, Cossacks, tribesmen and state peasants, not serfs, the general principles through which the assembly should codify laws. The 650 articles of the Instruction defined the functions of social estates and described the means of establishing rule of law and citizen welfare. Catherine was influenced by German and French thinkers of the time, perhaps even the works of Adam Smith. Proudly, she published her Instruction in over 25 languages, including English. It was so radical that it was condemned by the Sorbonne in Paris. From the Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria, Catherine drew her condemnation of torture in judicial proceedings in her Great Instruction: "The usage of torture is contrary to al the dictates of nature and reason: even mankind itself cries out against it, and demands loudly the total abolition of it" (30). This commentary, again, was completely new to Russia, as was writing a document of law in simple, easy-to-understand prose that could be purchased at a very low price and used by children to learn how to read. Catherine also declared state peasants a social group and granted them certain rights, including courts where they were allowed to elect assessors. Similarly, she reorganized the estate of the state peasants, setting up a society similar to the noble assembly and the town society.

The news of the fall of the Bastille in the French Revolution influenced Catherine in the last years of her life. The St. Petersburg Gazette, published by the Academy of Sciences,...
...Yet French revolutionary songs were sung in the palace, and French revolutionary literature was openly displayed in the library. Catherine was much more skeptical and outraged by the acts of the revolutionaries. The events in France, as well as the failed peace talks with the Turks, and a naval battle with the Swedish fleets made Catherine uneasy with any contradiction and the first formal conviction. a.N. Radishev was a wealthy noble who studied abroad and then came back to purchase a press and write revolutionary ideas, such as the treatment of serfs, rejection of religious obscurantism and an attack on monarchical absolutism and an "Ode to Liberty" written for the American Revolution. Catherine perceived the danger of his attack, ordered his arrest and confiscation of the book as well as ten years' exile. She also reneged and set up the first formal censorship system in 1796, when recognizing that such writers as Voltaire and Diderot undermined respect for religion and authority.

However, all in all, "the reign of Catherine II saw the birth of the Russian intelligentsia." More people traveled, attended universities, spoke foreign languages, wrote and translated, and became professionals of all kinds. This is not to say that she did not have those who opposed her rule. She never gave serfs their freedom, which could have been a political necessity, "But that should not be the sole criterion by which she is judged," (218) notes deMadariaga. Catherine died of a stroke in 1796 and in the words of the American historian, J.P. LeDonne, she "remains the finest gift of the German lands to her adopted country." Concludes de Madariaga in her forward "After generations during which Catherine was belittled because of her lack of female virtue, she is now at last being studied as a serious and efficient practitioner of the masculine…

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