Catherine II the Great (1762-1996)Catherine was an intelligent woman who was familiar with the works of the philosophers/ SHe claimed that she wished to reform Russia along the lines of Enlightenment ideas, but she was always shrewd enough to realize that her success depends on the support of the palace guard and the gentry class from which it stemmed. She could not afford to alienate the Russian nobility.
The local nobility became responsible for the day-to-day governing of Russia. The attempt of the Russian government to impose restrictions on free peasants in the border districts of the Russian Empire soon led to full-scale revolt that spread to the Volga valley.
Catherine proved a worthy successor to Peter the Great by expanding Russia's territory westward into Poland and southward to the Black Sea. Russian expansion westward occurred at the expense of neighboring Poland. In the three Partitions of Poland, Russia gained about 50 percent of Polish territory.
Catherine's subsequent policies had the effect of strengthening the landholding class, at the expense of all others, especially the Russian serfs.Catherine's policy of favoring the landed nobility led to even worse conditions for the Russian peasantry. The attempt of Russian government to impose restrictions on free peasants in the border districts of the Russian empire soon led to a full-scale revolt that spread to the Volga valley. Gorbachev's rebellion, Gorbachev was captured, tortured, and executed. The rebellion collapsed completely, and Catherine responded with even greater repression of the peasantry.