Catherine The Great’s Enlightened Policies

From the minute Catherine the Great seized the thrown in 1762, enlightened policies were enacted. That very year, She published The Manifesto Freeing the Nobility From Compulsory Service. In this script she grants the release of all nobility from the Table of Ranks, and preserves this right for future generations to come. Within this document Catherine stresses the new right to travel, showing her desire for a more cultured and global perspective for the nobility. Although the Manifesto repeals Peter the Great’s Table of Ranks, it also praises his work for progressing the military as well as civil and educational affairs. These are certainly traits of Peter’s reformist campaign that Catherine wished to continue in later documents such as The State on Provincial Administration along with other enlightened values. In this document Catherine develops multiple administration positions within the Gubernii, after the Pugachev Revolution in the South revealed the lack of control the state had in these regions. She also creates programs that resemble a form of public welfare and programs that had never been offered to the lower class before. These structural adjustments include requiring a health care clinic to be in every region with at least one doctor and apprentice so the trait could be passed down. Education was now public and encouraged for all classes, and also in the control of the state by using administrative boards in each region. Article Sixty-Four includes the process of elections and terms in order to have new ideas always being in a position of authority. In 1785 the Charter to the Nobility provided many privileges to this group of people but also held them accountable for crimes committed as everyone in Russia was now under the law. Catherine’s vision of Russia was a perpetual state of progress where the Monarch continued to act as a patriarch for all of it’s citizens.

1.) Which one of Catherine’s reforms were most well perceived in Russia? How should the Nobility view Catherine after these laws were enacted?

2.) Is Catherine the Great the most effective Tsar in Russia’s History of reformist rulers?

2 thoughts on “Catherine The Great’s Enlightened Policies

  1. One of Catherine’s reforms that stood out to me as extremely important is from The Charter to the Towns (1785), in the section “Concerning the Guilds and Guild Benefits in General.” Articles 103 and 105 shows the efforts of Catherine’s reforms to increase the standard of life for those living in her realm, as she makes the declarations that artisans may only work 6 days a week (except “on Sundays and the twelve holidays”) in addition to putting hour restraints on how long an artisan may work (6 am to 6 pm). Although these are still strenuous hours, this demonstrates that there are some labor laws beginning, and that the lives of these workers are also taken into consideration for once.

  2. I would argue that while her reforms definitely pushed Russia towards modernity, Catherine II was not the most effective reformist ruler. Her reforms would not have been possible had Peter the Great not revolutionized Russia under his reign. While Peter cleared a path, Catherine paved it. Granted, had one of these two rulers not had not ruled/reformed Russia, the other’s reforms would have been significantly less substantial.

    Questions: Was Catherine the Great called a tsar or tsarina? Could Russia still be called a “patriarchy” while being officially ruled by a woman?

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