Catherine II ‘the Great’, was one of the most outstanding monarchs in the history of Russia and Europe. During his mandate, Russia exponentially increased its territorial organization, so that the government of the country was much simpler. She positioned herself early in her life as a defender of liberal values, but ended up giving in to pressure from the nobility.
He was born under the name of Federica Augusta Sofia on May 2, 1729 at Stettin (Poland), being the daughter of Christian Augustus, prince of Anhalt-Zerbst. His parents advocated marriage to him Grand Duke Peter of Russia, which occurred on August 21, 1745. Before the wedding, Federica Augusta had to join the Orthodox Church under the name Catherine (Ekaterina, in Russian).
However, the couple failed and both had lovers. Military intrigues joined love ones and, in July 1762, Pedro was deposed by the head of the Imperial Guard and Catherine's lover, Grigori Orlov. The coup d'etat placed the hitherto queen consort at the head of Russia, proclaiming her Catherine II, empress of all the Russias.
Catalina knew how to cultivate her fame as an "enlightened sovereign", carrying out an opportunistic and pragmatic policy to turn Russia into a great power that was admitted to the concert of European nations. He tried to Europeanize the country and give the nobility a relevant position. However, he failed to create a code with the Montesquieu's ideas.
His foreign policy ended with access to the Black Sea and the annexations of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Crimea. It was also marked by the three divisions of Poland and by the Russo-Turkish wars of 1768-1774 and 1787-1791. These conflicts were settled by the empress through the treaties of Kuchuk-Kainarzhi in 1774 and from Iasi in 1792.
In domestic politics he was also realistic and pragmatic. He abandoned the liberal change projects of the first years of his reign and launched a series of practical reforms aimed at improving the administration and the economy. These policies were expanded and redoubled after the social upheavals of 1773, when the peasants revolted due to the dire situation in which they lived.
The truth is that the "servants”Accepted their condition less and less, especially after Peter III in 1762 he freed the nobility from compulsory military service. These changes led to Yemelián Pugachov revolt in 1773. That is why the empress devised the administrative reform of 1775, in which he placed the provincial administration under the authority of a single governor. Catherine divided Russia into provinces and districts that they enjoyed their own administration, police and judicial apparatus.
In 1783 serfdom was introduced in Ukraine, and G.A. Potemkin the valorization of this territory. This measure felt pretty bad but Katherine It did not stop there, but in 1785, promulgated the “letter of the nobility", In which he confirmed his privileges and granted him a corporate organization, and the"letter of cities”, Which granted autonomy to urban communities. At no time did he write something similar for the peasants or the servants, which increased the discontent of the population towards him.
The last years of his reign were dominated by concern to preserve Russia from revolutionary contagion affecting Europe since 1789. To do this, he joined the First Alliance against the French revolutionaries. Catherine believed that by eradicating the source of the uprising she could guarantee her reign.
On November 17, 1796, the Empress passed away from a stroke attack while getting ready to take a bath. The nobility, the most favored of all, paid him long and great tributes. It would be the end of a real iron lady, which had gone from trying to apply liberal measures to satisfying all the wishes of the Russian aristocracy.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.