Catherine the Great Breana Orum, Abbey Meisler, Carley Smith

Questions and Answers

Q:Who succeeded Catherine? A:Catherine the Great's successor was her son, Paul. He became czar of Russia at age 42 when Catherine died. He was emperor for only 4 years until he was assassinated.

Paul I

Q:How did her reign end? A:Her reign sadly ended because she died from a stroke.

Q:What ideas from Voltaire did Catherine use in her ruling? A:Throughout her rule, Catherine exchanged letters with Voltaire. As a French philosopher, Voltaire supported reason, tolerance, and freedom of religion and speech. Throughout her ruling, Catherine portrayed these ideas influenced by Voltaire. She attempted to use Voltaire's ideas of religious freedom in Russia and tolerance to reduce the cruel capital punishment caused by contradictory religious and political ideas amongst her people.


Catherine the Great was born a German princess in the Prussian Kingdom. Her early years were spent with great pleasure, and she grew up very religiously. Her life as being the empress of Russia was just starting when she met her future husband and heir to the Russian throne, Prince Karl Peter Ulrich. Her childhood caused her to be trained and developed with all the learning and accomplishments of her age. When the time had come, at age 32, Catherine and Peter became the Emperor and Empress of Russia. Peter and Catherine didn't have the best of relationships, and they both cheated on each other. Being a strong woman as she was, she had troops of St. Petersburg to arrest Peter, and have him taken from the throne. She succeeded and became the sovereign ruler of Russia.

Catherine the Great was a very organized and hard working ruler who helped Russia prosper in many different ways. She believed in absolute rule, but made many political and economic reforms for the people. She even made a document on how the legal system should run. The nobles had a lot of power during her reign, but the serfs lost their freedom. Catherine the Great's greatest accomplishments was expanding Russia. She gained a lot of land from neighboring countries, and even gained control of the northern shore of the Baltic Sea. Her successful reign of Russia for 34 years greatly contributed to how powerful it is today. Sadly, at age 67, Catherine died from a stroke, but her son, Paul, continued her legacy by becoming the ruler of Russia.

Peter III and Catherine II
The Nakaz-statement of legal principles written by Catherine II

Enlightenment Ideas

Catherine the Great was well-respected by the philosophes because of her enforcement of Enlightenment ideas through her ruling. While attempting to reform Russia, Catherine ruled with absolute authority. She established a group of Russian leaders to reform laws inspired by philosophers Montesquieu and Beccaria. Although these goals were not accomplished, Catherine attempted to enforce religious toleration and end cruel capital punishment. Another Enlightenment idea Catherine supported was the freedom of serfs. However, when a great uprising of serfs occurred, these views changed and she gave nobles absolute power over the serfs.

Modern Legacy

Catherine's legacy is known for "westernizing" Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is an important figure because she was a woman. She set the precedent that a women can be in a powerful position. Catherine built (directed) the Hermitage museum. Catherine is not only known for her ability to expand and rule but for her love affairs. Catherine was a virgin eight years into her relationship with her husband Peter. Without an heir the Empress decided to find out what the problem was. Catherine later than got pregnant with another guy's baby and had Paul.

People suspected that the baby was not peters but Catherine refused them and said it was. Catherine did not stop fooling around after Paul though. She is greatly known for getting around. Her achievements helped propel Russia to become something major after her death. Catherine waged two successful wars against ottoman empire expanding the borders of Russia. Catherine was also known to have founded many academies, journals, and libraries. She was also very connected to French Encyclopedists, including Voltaire. Catherine's reign was a successful one, and she helped shape how Russia and the rest of the world is today.


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