Catherine the Great Book by Kireet Joshi : Read online

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All trial should be open, torture should not be used, capital punishment should be abolished in law as well as in fact. On the second day after the operation, Orlov had gone hunting. This was news to send to Europe, still trembling at the bare thought of vaccination. The Empress wrote the story to Voltaire, trusting him to spread it in the proper quarters.

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Everyone gambled and drank according to his means, and stole according to his station, but everyone was charitable, and huts exceeded palaces in hospitality. She admired Joseph II’s reforms of education in Austria, and asked him to lend her someone familiar with his procedure. He sent her Theodor Yankovich, who drew up for her a plan which she promulgated as a “Statute of Popular Schools” . An elementary school was established in the chief town of each county, and a high school in each of the principal cities of twenty-six provinces. These schools were open to all children of any class; corporal punishment was not allowed in them; teachers and textbooks were provided by the state.

‘When her mother sent her a message, suggesting that she should have a Lutheran pastor to comfort her, she firmly demanded an Orthodox priest, and nothing was better calculated to impress the Empress than this convincing sign of conversion. Also Sophia made sure that it was known that her illness was a result of her ardent study of Russian, and this, too, told strongly in her favour. The Russians, who had suffered long from the condescension of foreigners, took to their hearts this German princess who paid such respect to their language. On the next morning Sophia and her mother attended again in the audience chamber. The Empress appeared, dressed even more magnificently than on the night before, and followed by Count Razumovsky, her Cossak favourite, whom Sophia considered one of the handsomest men she had even seen. He bore on a gold plate the insignia of the Order of St. Catherine, which Elizabeth conferred on Sophia and then on Princess Johanna.

It was not only his personal behavior, but even more his disregard and contempt for Russian prestige, interests, and traditions that antagonized the nation. He demonstrated this attitude particularly in his treatment of the army and the church, the two powerful forces on which the very security of his throne rested. But Peter, twisted in character, and feeble in health and intelligence, could never understand this nation over which a fate had set him to rule. Her acceptance into the church was appointed to take place on 28 June and she worked hard to make herself word perfect.

The famous Dr. Dimsdale arrested her attention, preoccupied as she was at all times with her anxiety about smallpox. Her admiration for English institutions had been encouraged by her friendship with Sir Charles Hanbury ‘Williams and the influence of Voltaire. The practical English had imported vaccination from the Orient, and an Englishwoman, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, had set a brave example by allowing herself and her son to be inoculated¹. On the other hand, there were many voices raised against it. The physicians of the Sorbonne discountenanced² vaccination and disregarded the experience of England with the practice. Frederick the Great was intensely afraid of it and wrote to Catherine to urge her strongly not to take the risk.

For instance, the court spoke of the Grand Duke’s uncertain chance of life because he “had not yet had the smallpox.” The royal family had no more protection than the poorest peasant. The fiancé of Empress Elisabeth had been carried off by smallpox on the eve of his marriage and Peter the Second had died in early youth of the same disease. From the time of Catherine’s arrival in Russia she was constantly pursued by the fear of the pest and every time she fell ill she thought it had overtaken her. The fleet anchored at Kremenchug, where Catherine watched manoeuvres by 12,000 men, wearing the new uniforms introduced by Potemkin to give his troops greater comfort and efficiency. Thence they travelled on to the site of Ekaterinoslav, designated the capital of New Russia. Meanwhile in St. Petersburg, Catherine readied for her expedition to Peterhof.

Potemkin had organized the whole journey as an expression of his great love for her as a woman and as his Empress. She indeed felt and returned his love; she was overwhelmed by his homage and her gratitude to him was boundless. She showered gifts on him, created him Prince of Tauris, and after their parting she wrote constantly to him.

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He was educated by the Jesuits, and, refusing to enter one of the learned professions, was turned adrift by his father and came to Paris, where he lived from hand to mouth for a time. Gradually, however, he became recognized as one of the most powerful writers of the day. His first independent work was the Essai sur Ie merite et la vertu. As one of the editors of the Dictionnaire de médecine (6 vols., Paris, 1746), he gained valuable experience in encyclopedic system. His Pensées philosophiques , in which he attacked both atheism and the received Christianity, was burned by order of the Parliament of Paris. Religion served to transmit a moral code that barely availed to create order amid the strong natural impulses of a primitive people.

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Soon after Catherine had reached the Winter Palace, where the guards, joined by two infantry regiments, posted sentries, Panin hurried to her with the eight-year-old Grand Duke. He had snatched the boy from his bed immediately on learning of the coup. Catherine took her son, still in his nightdress, to the balcony of the palace to show him to the troops and the people crowded in the square below, and they roared their delight.

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On the threshold of her reign, Catherine was met by this need. In an enormous sledge¹ containing several compartments and drawn by thirty horses, while a convoy of 150 sledges accompanied her. Gliding over the crisp snow, their progress was swift and comfortable.

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She had just resumed the march to Peterhof, when she was joined by members of Peter’s suite who had deserted him after his faint-hearted attempt to land at Kronstadt. From them, and particularly from the vice-chancellor, Prince Golitsyn, Catherine learnt about Peter’s position and his defeated mood. In fact, Golitsyn brought a letter from him in which he acknowledged that he had treated her badly, promised to make amends, and proposed that they rule together in future. Made slow progress, and on the road to Peterhof, at the inn, troops and horses rested for five hours. Here she received a report from the Senate on their preparations to meet possible attacks from Kronstadt and Livonia, led by Peter, and she shared the anxiety of her senators.

His room in the Winter Palace, just as the guards d seized Ivan VI and his mother, and had proclaimed Elizabeth twenty-one years earlier. The departure of Peter for Oranienbaum had thwarted1 this plan, and they had then adopted Panin’s proposal to arrest Peter on his return to the capital. Eighteen years had passed since as a young Five Keys To An Effective Sales Value Proposition girl she had first arrived in Russia, ambitious to make a glorious career for herself. Those years had passed for the most part in boredom and isolation, from which she had escaped into books and riding. The court was like a whispering chamber and she could be sure that every word she uttered would be repeated to the Empress.

The most urgent step was therefore to secure the allegiance of these forces to their new sovereign before Peter could assert his authority. The procession resumed its triumphal progress, but preceded now by priests. Catherine sat in an open carriage with Grigori Orlov riding on the right footboard and General Vilboa on the left, while Razumovsky, Prince Volkonsky, Count Bruce, and several generals rode close behind her, and the horse guards kept station on either flank. The disorderly crowd which had surged into the city had already become an imperial cortege. This reception had presumably been planned in advance by the Orlovs, and Grigori had ridden ahead to ensure that nothing went wrong, and in particular that no one proclaimed Grand Duke Paul. But it had only needed one or two voices to be heard for the regiment to rise to a man to proclaim her, and now both officers and men were wild with enthusiasm, delighting especially in the fact that she had come first to them for protection and support.

  • All her life she was to be seized by sudden bouts of “legislation mania”, but she legislated alone.
  • It may well be that the decision to summon Catherine to the city had already been taken by the Orlovs and that Grigori had come to tell Panin and Dashkova.
  • She had just resumed the march to Peterhof, when she was joined by members of Peter’s suite who had deserted him after his faint-hearted attempt to land at Kronstadt.
  • Ambition extinguished not in Catherine’s soul an ardent relish for pleasure…
  • Strong patrols of guards moved through the city, but although most of the people were in the streets there was no disorder or rioting.

He had suffered throughout his life from poor health, but at the time of his death he was eighty-four. Voltaire left behind him over fourteen thousand known letters and over two thousand books and pamphlets. Voltaire settled in 1755 in Switzerland, where he lived the rest of his life, apart from trips to France. He had his own chateau, Les Delices, outside Geneva, and later at nearby Ferney, in France. Anybody of note, from Boswell to Casanova, wanted to visit the place; Voltaire’s conversations with visitors were recorded and published and he was flattered by kings and nobility.

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After half an hour, she dismissed them saying that they must be tired after their long journey. But the Grand Duke with his suite then escorted them to their apartments, where they all dined together. She, the woman, who through her fortunate wars , through the fairylike brilliance of her court, her refined tastes and broad culture, was also to wrest her country from Turkish influence, thereby bringing up Russia as a modern state among the great-powers of Europe. She,who nurtured Russian culture to its flowering, gave her name to a whole era of Russian history and has been, in the generally accepted meaning of the term, a great monarch. Her equally great passion for building filled her capital, St. Petersburg, with magnificent stone edifices and the periphery of both St. Petersburg and Moscow with delightful palaces, country houses and parks. She also had a mania for collecting works of art, paintings, statues, carpets, gold and ebony work, coins, precious stones and so forth; her busy agents, recruited from among the best in Europe, literally stripped the private collections of France, England and Italy.

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The guards had greeted her decision to march with enthusiasm, and they were overjoyed when she took the rank of colonel of the guards, thus reviving the tradition established by Peter the Great, that the sovereign was their commanding officer. Before setting out, Catherine reviewed them, and she wore a guard’s uniform, which she had borrowed from a young officer, and held a sabre in her hand. Mounted on a white horse in this uniform she was a striking figure, and the fervour of the guards reached a new pitch as they marched past her. On the morning of 28 June, Peter had reviewed his troops as usual and then had set out with his suite for Peterhof to celebrate his nameday as the guest of the Empress.

His introduction to Catherine II of Russia took place at St Petersburg in 1773. In 1777 he again left Paris on a visit to St Petersburg, where he remained for nearly a year in daily intercourse with Catherine. He acted as Paris agent for the Empress in the purchase of works of art, and executed many confidential commissions for her. In 1792 he emigrated, and in the next year settled in Gotha, where his poverty was relieved by Catherine, who in 1796 appointed him minister of Russia at Hamburg. In 1773 she summoned him to St. Petersburg with Grimm to converse with him in person. Even after the dissolution of their order by Pope Clement XIV ; it permitted the Volga Tatars to rebuild their mosques.


His religious and philosophical opinions were entirely negative. In 1722,97.7 per cent of the Russian population was rural; in 1790, still 96.4 per cent; so slow was industrialization. In 1762 all but ten per cent of the people were peasant, and 52.4 per cent of these were serfs.

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