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Исследовательская работа: 
The great female leaders who changed the course of history

5. Catherine the Great

Catherine II (Yekaterina Alekseyevna) known in history as the Great: she was born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, and was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, she was longest-ruling female leader of Russia.


She came to power when her husband, Peter III, was assassinated. Under her reign, Russia was revitalized; it grew larger and stronger, and was recognized as one of the great powers of Europe. Her reign became Russia’s Golden Age, the time of great reforms and glorious victories.

One of her contemporaries described the essence of her rule, saying that Peter the Great created people in Russia, and Catherine put her heart into them. She changed Russia little by little and finished what Peter had done forcibly. Here is how Prince Pyotr Vyazemsky described the different approaches of these two outstanding sovereigns: “the Russian man wanted Russians to become Germans, and the German lady tried to make them Russians again.”

“I have never done anything without being deeply convinced that it is done according to the benefit of my state:” Empress Catherine II wrote about herself and Russia, the country in which she lived more than half a century and which became for her a real homeland.

With German blood and Russian soul
She was an Empress for many years.
With her wise rule of glory
She broughtgreatness to the Russian Empire..

“Devoted to Catherine the Great” Zoia Voronina [Translated by Akinin Mikhail]


The empress kept saying “whatever I do for Russia it will only be just a drop in the sea…but after me my beginnings will be followed and continued”. She herself had to continue a lot of things that her predecessors could not manage to finish especially concerning foreign affairs.

The government of Catherine II continued the struggle for Russia's withdrawal to the Black Sea. The affirmation on the Black Sea coast would at last give the country the opportunity to be actively engaged in the trade with the countries of the East. However, Russia did not satisfy the aspirations of France and Turkey. And it led to two long and bloody wars of Russia and Turkey and where Russia was the winner.

She protected the holy interest of Russia,
Its possessions expanded for future use,
And taught an impressive lesson
To Turkey in the war for the coast.
“Devoted to Catherine the Great” Zoia Voronina [Translated by Akinin Mikhail]

Екатерина Великая

Thanks to the victories won by the ground forces and the navy, the Russian Empire linked the entire Northern Black Sea coast to its own territories.

The Crimean Khanate, which in 1774 received political independence from Turkey, became part of Russia in 1783. Russia got access to the Black Sea and got rid of the constant threat of attacks by the Crimeans, behind whom Turkey stood. It represented a huge benefit for Russia in economic terms.

The reign of Catherine II was marked by extensive enlightening reforms. She devoted much attention to expanding the country's educational facilities being concerned to established institutes, cadet corps and foster homes.

But the main merit of Catherine in this area can be considered the first experience of creating a system of general primary education in Russia, not limited by class barriers (with the exception of serfs).

It is also remarkable that under Catherine the organization of medical assistance to the population was entrusted to the authorities. Each city had to have a hospital and a pharmacy, where patients were offered not those medicines that were cheaper, but those which were prescribed by a doctor. The epidemic of smallpox remained a terrible disaster for the people of Russia, and Catherine set an example by getting vaccination.

The history of the reign of Empress Catherine II is a history of brilliant good will and its implementation. A colossal legislative and administrative work was carried out, which turned Russia into a Europeanized power. The army and the navy brought many glorious victories to Russia.

But Catherine herself spoke best of herself in the epitaph, which long before her death she wrote for her future gravestone: “Catherine II rests here. She came to Russia in 1744 to marry Peter III. At the age of 14 she took a three-sided decision: to enchant her husband, Empress Elizabeth and the people of Russia.

And she used every single chance to succeed in this. Eighteen years of loneliness and boredom made her read many books. As she mounted to the Russian throne she did her best to give her people happiness, freedom and wellbeing. She forgave people easily and hated nobody. She was charitable, good-tempered and loved life. She was a true republican in her politics and was kind-hearted. She had friends. She worked easily. She loved social life and the arts.”

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