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Ekaterina II the Great (1729-96), Empress of Russia (1762). The German Princess Sophia August Frederika of Anhalt-Zerbst. From 1744 in Russia. Since 1745 the wife of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich, the future Emperor Peter III, which overthrew the throne (1762), relying on guards (G. G. and A. G. Orlov and others). Reorganized the Senate (1763), the secularization of land (1763-64), abolished the hetman of Ukraine (1764). Chaired the Legislative Commission 1767-69. When it came Peasants' War 1773-75. Issued an institution to manage the province, 1775, Charter to the Nobility 1785 and the Letters Patent 1785 cities. Under Catherine II by the Russian-Turkish wars of 1768-74, 1787-91 Russia permanently entrenched in the Black meters, were joined North. Black Sea, Crimea, Kuban. Adopted by Russia's citizenship Vost. Georgia (1783). During the reign of Catherine II implemented sections of the Commonwealth (1772, 1793, 1795). Corresponded with Voltaire and other leaders of the French Enlightenment. Author of many fictional, dramatic, journalistic, scientific and popular writings, 'Memoirs'
CATHERINE II Alekseevna (nц?e. Sophia August Frederika, Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst) [21 April (May 2) 1729, Stettin 6 (17) November 1796, St. Petersburg], Empress of Russia (from 1762-96).
. Origins and education
. Catherine, the daughter who was in the Prussian service of Prince Christian August of Anhalt-Zerbst and Princess Johanna-Elizabeth (nee Princess of Holstein-Gottorp), is related to the royal houses of Sweden, Prussia and Britain
. She has received education at home: she studied German and French languages, dance, music, the basics of history, geography, theology. Already in childhood manifested its independent nature, curiosity, perseverance, and together with the propensity to live, mobile games. In 1744, Catherine with her mother was summoned to Russia by the Empress Elizabeth, . baptized in the Orthodox tradition under the name of Catherine Alekseevny and baptized the bride of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovich (the future Emperor Peter III), . whom were married in 1745.,
. Life in Russia before coming to the throne
. Catherine set itself the goal to win the favor of the Empress, her husband and the Russian people
. But her personal life was unsuccessful: Peter was infantile, so during the first years of marriage between them there was no marital. After paying tribute to the gay life of the court, Catherine turned to the reading of the French Enlightenment and the writings on the history, law and economics. These books shaped her worldview. Catherine became a consistent advocate of the ideas of the Enlightenment. She also asked about the history, traditions and customs of Russia. In early 1750-ies. Catherine began an affair with the officer of the Guards with. V. Saltykov, and in 1754 gave birth to a son, the future Emperor Paul I, but rumors that Saltykov was the father of Paul, not baseless. In the second half of 1750-ies. Catherine had an affair with a Polish diplomat with. Poniatowski (later King Stanislaw August), and in early 1760-ies. with T. G. Orlov, from whom she gave birth in 1762 his son Alexei, given the name Bobrinskii. Deteriorating relationship with her husband meant that she began to fear for their own fate if he came, and authorities began to recruit his supporters at court. Catherine ostentatious piety, her prudence, a sincere love for Russia is a sharp contrast with the behavior of Peter and allowed her to gain prestige among fashionable Washington society, and in the whole population of St. Petersburg.
. Accession to the throne
. Within six months of the reign of Peter III Catherine's relationship with her husband (who appeared openly in society mistress E
. R. Vorontsova) continued to deteriorate, becoming overtly hostile. There was a threat of arrest and possible expulsion. Catherine careful plotting, supported by the Orlov brothers, H. I. Panina, K. G. Razumovsky, E. R. Dashkova etc.. On the night of June 28, 1762, when the emperor was in Oranienbaum, Kateryna secretly arrived in St. Petersburg and in the barracks Izmailovsky Regiment was proclaimed Empress of autocratic. Soon the rebels joined by soldiers of other regiments. The news of Catherine's accession to the throne quickly spread through the city and was enthusiastically greeted by Petersburg. To prevent the action of the deposed emperor had sent a messenger to the army and in Kronstadt. Meanwhile, Peter, having learned of the incident, was sent to Catherine's offer of talks, which were rejected. The Empress at the head of the Guards regiments came to St. Petersburg and on the road received a written renunciation of the throne of Peter.
. The nature and form of government
. Catherine II was a subtle psychologist and an excellent connoisseur of people, she skillfully picked his assistants, not afraid of bright and talented people
. That is why Catherine's time is marked by the emergence of a whole galaxy of outstanding statesmen, generals, writers, artists, musicians. In dealing with the subjects of Catherine was generally restrained, patient, tactful. She was a wonderful conversationalist, was able to listen carefully to each. By her own admission, she did not have a creative mind, but well caught every businesslike idea and used it for their own purposes. During the reign of Catherine virtually no noisy resignations, none of the nobles had not been disgraced, was exiled and executed by the more. Therefore, had the idea of Catherine's reign as the 'golden age' of the Russian Nobility. However, Catherine was very vain and more than anything else valued its power. For the sake of its preservation, it is ready to make any compromises at the expense of his convictions.
. The attitude to religion and the Peasant Question
. Catherine differed ostentatious piety, regarded itself as the leader and defender of the Russian Orthodox Church and skillfully used religion for their political interests
. Faith it seems, was not too deep. In the spirit of the time she preached tolerance. When it was discontinued persecution of Old Believers, built Protestant and Catholic churches, mosques, but still the transition from orthodoxy to another religion severely punished.
. Catherine was a staunch opponent of serfdom, considering it the most inhumane and contrary to human nature
. In her papers survived many harsh statements on the subject, as well as arguments about the different options for the elimination of serfdom. However, to do something concrete in this area, it was not solved because of the well-founded fear of noble rebellion and another coup. However, Catherine was convinced of the spiritual immaturity of the Russian peasants, and therefore in danger of giving them freedom, believing that the life of peasants in caring landlords rather well.
. Domestic Policy
. Catherine came to the throne, having a definite political program, based on the one hand, the ideas of the Enlightenment and, on the other hand, takes into account the historical development of Russia
. The most important principles of this program have been gradual, progressive, record of public attitudes. In the early years of his reign, Catherine undertook the reform of the Senate (1763), . which made the work of this institution more effective, had the secularization of church lands (1764), . significantly enrich the state coffers and facilitated the situation of millions of peasants; eliminated hetman of Ukraine, . which corresponded to its perceptions of the need for uniformity of administration throughout the empire, invited German colonists in Russia for the development of the Volga and Black Sea,
. During these years, was founded by a number of new schools, including the first in Russia, education for women (the Smolny Institute, St. Catherine's College). In 1767, she announced the convening of the Commission to compose a new Code, consisting of elected deputies from all social groups in Russian society, with the exception of the serfs. Catherine wrote to the Commission's 'Instructions', which is essentially a liberal program of her reign. Calls Catherine were not, however, understood by members of the Commission, who led debate on minor issues. During their debates revealed deep differences between social groups, the low level of political culture and frank conservatism of the majority members of the Commission. At the end of 1768 the Legislative Commission was dissolved. Catherine herself appreciated the Commission's experience as an important lesson to introduce her to the sentiments of various sections of the population.
After the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-74 and the suppression of the revolt led by E. I. Pugachev entered a new stage of Catherine's reforms, when the empress herself had developed important legislation. In 1775 was issued a manifesto that allows the freedom of establishment of any industrial. In the same year was made provincial reform, which introduced a new administrative-territorial division of the country, will persist until the October Revolution of 1917. In 1785 Catherine issued its most important legislative acts of charters to the nobility and the cities. Was prepared as a third charter public peasants, but the political circumstances did not permit her to enter into force. The core meaning of literacy was associated with the implementation of the most important goals of Catherine's reforms in Russia, the creation of full-fledged Western-type classes. For the Russian nobility charter means the legal consolidation of almost all those in its possession the rights and privileges. In 1780-ies. continued and education reform: A network of urban school facilities based on class-task system. In his later years Catherine continued to develop plans for major change. In 1797 was scheduled for radical reform of the central administration, the introduction of legislation on the order of succession to the throne, the creation of the highest court, based on elected representation from the three estates. However, to complete its program of reforms Catherine did not have time. In general, Catherine's reforms were a direct continuation of the reforms of Peter I.
. Foreign Policy
. After Peter I, Catherine believed that Russia should play an active role on the world stage, to conduct an offensive (and to some extent aggressive) policy.
. Having gained the throne, she tore Peter III concluded a treaty of alliance with Prussia
. Thanks to her efforts, was restored to the throne of the Duke of Courland E. I. Biron. In 1763, backed by Prussia, Russia has made the election his protц?gц? Stanislaw August Poniatowski on the Polish throne. This led to a cooling of relations with Austria, who, fearing the excessive strengthening of Russia, was to incite Turkey to a war with Russia Empire. Russian-Turkish War of 1768-74 was largely successful for Russia, but the complex political situation has encouraged Russia to seek peace, for which it was necessary to restore relations with Austria. The result was a compromise, which fell victim to Poland: in 1772 Russia, Prussia and Austria carried out the first section of part of its territory. Since Turkey signed a Treaty of Kц?цїц?k Kaynarca world, which provided favorable for Russia independence of Crimea. In the war between Britain and its North American colonies of Russia officially took a neutral position and Catherine King of England refused to help British troops. The initiative of H. I. Panina Russia issued a declaration of armed neutrality, joined by several European states, which objectively contributed to the victory of the colonists. In subsequent years there has been the strengthening of Russian positions in the Crimea and the Caucasus, . culminated in 1782 the inclusion of the Crimea in the Russia Empire in 1783 and the signing of the Treaty of St. George with the king of Kartli-Kakheti Heraclius II, . ensured the presence of Russian troops in Georgia, . and subsequently its accession to Russia,
. In the second half of 1770's. formation of a new foreign policy doctrine of the Russian government Greek project. Its main aim was the restoration of the Greek (Byzantine) empire with its capital in Constantinople and the Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, grandson of Catherine, as the Emperor. In 1779, Russia has significantly strengthened its international reputation, participating as a mediator between Austria and Prussia in Teshenskom Congress. In 1787, First Lady, accompanied by the court, foreign diplomats, the Austrian Emperor and King of Poland made a trip to the Crimea, which became a gigantic demonstration of Russian military power. Shortly thereafter, a new war with Turkey, and Russia acted in alliance with Austria. Almost simultaneously, the war started with Sweden (1788-90), is seeking revenge for defeat in the Great Northern War. However, Russia has successfully coped with the two opponents. The war with Turkey ended in 1791. In 1792 was signed by Jassy world, which recognized the influence of Russia in Bessarabia and the Caucasus, as well as the accession of the Crimea. In 1793 and 1795 occurred the second and third sections of Poland, the final elimination of the Polish statehood. Examples of events in revolutionary France Catherine initially treated with a certain degree of sympathy, seeing in them the result of unreasonable oppressive policies of the French kings. However, after the execution of Louis XVI, it saw a danger of revolution throughout Europe.
Time of Catherine II is flourishing favoritism, characteristic of European life in the second half of the 18. After leaving in the early 1770's. with T. G. Orlov, in subsequent years the Empress has replaced a number of favorites. To participate in political matters, they are usually not allowed. Only two of her famous lovers G. A. Potemkin P. V. Zavadovsky become major public figures. With his minions Catherine lived for several years, but then parted for a variety of reasons (the death of a favorite, his treachery or misconduct), but none of them had been subjected to disgrace. They were lavishly decorated with ranks, titles, money and serfs. Throughout his life, Catherine was looking for a man who would be worthy, would have shared her enthusiasm, views, and t. d. But to find such a man it seems, never managed. However, there is an assumption that she was secretly married in Potemkin, which maintained a friendly relationship until his death. All sorts of rumors about orgies at the court of Catherine the propensity to nymphomania and t. n. no more than a groundless myth.
Brikner A. G. History of Catherine II. SPb., 1885.
Kamensky A. B. Under seniyu Catherine: The second half of XVIII century. SPb., 1992.
Omelchenko About. A. 'Legitimate monarchy' Catherine the. M., 1993.
Kamensky A. B. Life and fate of the Empress Catherine the Great. M., 1997.

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