Was Catherine the Great ... great?

Feb 2007
51
the greatest country there is: aka America! (hurra
Catherine the Great was indeed a great tsarina. She allied with leading nobles at the tsarist court to displace her unpopular husband, thus fashioning herself into a Russian ruler by gaining support of the nobility. She continued Peter the Great's Westernization program, appointing Western European style education, and sought to devise policies that would improve her subjets' lives without detracting from her own power and authority. She restricted punishment on serfs and abolished the death penalty, too, with some exceptions. Challenges to her rule, though (like the Pugachev Rebellion) caused her to abandon the program of westernization and adopt extremely conservative policies, pretty much putting an end to her great reign.
 

MrStoff1989

Historum Emeritas
Aug 2006
844
Tennessee
Well, To tell you honestly, I always thought Peter was the greatest of all the tsars just because of the fact that he never strayed from his purpose, to westernize, and I don't think Russia would be what it is today without his efforts. I'm glad Catherine continued, but she did the worst thing she could've done. She showed her people that all of their work had been for nothing.
 
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Feb 2007
51
the greatest country there is: aka America! (hurra
In my opinion, I think Peter the Great was the greatest tsar there was too. Catherine was admirable for continuing his Westernization program, but the fact she stopped it because she saw the impact it created in Wester Europe was really unnerving. All the work wasn't really for nothing, I mean, at the time of course it was the best thing that could have been done, and like you mentioned greatly effected what Russia is today.
 
Jul 2006
195
Edinburgh, Scotland
If you asked her numerous lovers and affairs they would have said, "yeah she's great". To me people have lounged upon her a title she did not deserve. She was a licentious, wanton, lustful woman who just say upon a throne and not ruled. She even had her ladies in waiting "try-out" the proposed men to see if they were good enough to share her majesty's bed.
 
Nov 2006
11
Orange County, CA
If you asked her numerous lovers and affairs they would have said, "yeah she's great". To me people have lounged upon her a title she did not deserve. She was a licentious, wanton, lustful woman who just say upon a throne and not ruled. She even had her ladies in waiting "try-out" the proposed men to see if they were good enough to share her majesty's bed.
That's an awfully close-minded statement. Because I'm sure all the male rulers of the world, time immemorial, were as chaste as they could be. :rolleyes:
 
Feb 2007
51
the greatest country there is: aka America! (hurra
That's an awfully close-minded statement. Because I'm sure all the male rulers of the world, time immemorial, were as chaste as they could be. :rolleyes:

ahaha niiice point.

But seriously, Catherine was an amazing ruler; AND it's not like a bunch of women came up with that name. She was about as liberating and open-minded to modernization as Peter the Great; consolidating and strengthening the Russian empire. She fought for her subjects, and did the best she could at the time of her rule.
 
Feb 2007
538
Ohio
If you asked her numerous lovers and affairs they would have said, "yeah she's great". To me people have lounged upon her a title she did not deserve. She was a licentious, wanton, lustful woman who just say upon a throne and not ruled. She even had her ladies in waiting "try-out" the proposed men to see if they were good enough to share her majesty's bed.
Well, your post ignores the much, much larger question as to why so many in our culture, and men in particular, tend to deem a woman some how less than respect-worthy if she's "great" in the sexual arena. :rolleyes: An even bigger question would be whether Catherine the Great would say that her lovers were "great." ;)
 
Apr 2007
25
Louisiana
She was a good leader. I wouldnt mind having her as a leader during a war. She knew how to keep the nation together while still wipping some enemy butt. However, the way that she got what she wanted wasnt always great. lata,-GermanDude
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
If you asked her numerous lovers and affairs they would have said, "yeah she's great". To me people have lounged upon her a title she did not deserve. She was a licentious, wanton, lustful woman who just say upon a throne and not ruled. She even had her ladies in waiting "try-out" the proposed men to see if they were good enough to share her majesty's bed.
As opposed to several male monarchs of the period who did the same sort of thing with female members of their courts? :)
 
May 2007
18
Deland, FL
I forget which of the Philosophes she wrote this to (I'm thinking Diderot or Voltaire), but it has always struck me as being truly profound.

“You philosophers are lucky men. You write on paper and paper is patient. Unfortunate Empress that I am, I write on the susceptible skins of living beings.”

It is so easy for us to look at Catherine and say "Why didn't she do more?" Ruling a nation cannot be easy, I know I couldn't do it. Why is it that when we discuss 'male' leaders, we focus on what the did, but when we discuss 'female' leaders, one of the first topics is their sexuality (or sometimes lack thereof). One of the best lines I've heard recently comes from the movie "The Contender" and goes "If it's not relevant for a man, it shouldn't be relevant for a woman".

When we look at Catherine as a leader, then yes she was 'great', otherwise why are we still talking about her? The real question should be whether her greatness was from good leadership or bad? Did she advance her country? What are the lasting effects of her rule?

(sorry for the rambling structure)