Catherine the Great and Russian Literature

Catherine the Great: Empress and Controversial Figure

Catherine the Great was a very important woman in Russian history. She was the last Empress to rule the country and was also one of its longest-reigning rulers. She rose to power after the overthrow of her predecessor, Peter III. But her reign was not all good. She was a controversial figure, and she made many mistakes that would later cost her the crown.

Enlightenment Philosophers and Catherine's Influence

Catherine the Great was a famous absolutist ruler in Russia, and her ideas and policies were deeply influenced by Enlightenment philosophy. She aligned herself with the ideas of Montesquieu, Beccaria, and Voltaire, and sought to introduce Western influences into Russia. The result was a government that avoided the excesses of personal power and acted with intelligence.

Catherine the Great was the last enlightened absolutism - a system of monarchy rule that applies the principles of the Enlightenment to government. She is often regarded as the archetypal embodiment of this style of monarchy.

Russian Poets: Influencers of Russian Literature

The work of Russian poets, especially those from the nineteenth century, has influenced Russian literature. These writers brought Western literary concepts to the Russian language. However, the work of Russian poets is not always widely known outside the country. Listed below are some of the authors and their works. In the twentieth century, Russian literature began to flourish again.

Pushkin is widely considered the father of modern Russian literature. He wrote "The Bronze Horseman" in 1833, though the poem was never published in its entirety during his lifetime. In the poem, Pushkin refers to a flood that struck Russia on November 7, 1824. Pushkin's description of the flood is based on historical events.

Serf Labour: A System under Catherine the Great's Reign

Serf labour was the norm in Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great. Serfs were attached to the land and paid dues to the lord. They were expected to perform manual labour and obey their master. Catherine the Great extended serfdom to Siberia and encouraged serf owners to sell their serfs to colonists. By 1861, 60 percent of serfs were mortgaged to the state.

Catherine the Great's reign also included a variety of reforms. She had an ambitious reform programme but she abandoned many of them in favour of practicality. She had no choice but to use serf labour as a source of revenue for her projects. The new rule allowed her to build dozens of towns and improve trade and communications. She also patronised science and literature, engaging in extensive correspondence with Voltaire and Diderot.

Political Reforms and Catherine's Changing Policies

Catherine the Great began her reign with a string of political reforms that aimed to modernise life in Russia. However, as she aged, her policies became more conservative. In 1767, she convened a Legislative Commission that had delegates from all classes and provinces. The goal was to modernise and codify the laws of the Russian Empire. Nevertheless, the commission produced no results, and eventually disbanded.

Catherine the Great's political reforms included reforms that made the serfs' position in society more equal. This included removing the right of serfs to appeal to her directly, granting them legitimate bureaucratic status, and making it harder for them to return to serfdom. In addition, she gave landowners the right to sentence freed serfs to hard labor in Siberia.

Catherine's Relationship with Voltaire

Catherine the Great's relationship with Voltaire is a complex one. Despite the rivalry between the two, their correspondence is an important document of Catherine's time. Catherine cultivated her relationship with Voltaire by patronizing the arts and writing, and it is said to have fostered the creation of a unique Russian literature. Catherine also read extensively and tried her hand at writing history and drama. As a result, she produced a large number of books during her reign, which sparked intellectual debates.

Catherine the Great and Voltaire had a long relationship that spanned 15 years. While Catherine was studying philosophical literature as a teenager, she was also captivated by the splendor of the court of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Catherine was in awe of the rich, luxurious life in the capital, in contrast to her Protestant principality. Catherine also became an avid reader of Voltaire's writings, and their correspondence continued for fifteen years.

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