Catherine the Great

by Shea Gallagher

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  • filled her time reading, studying French philosophy, building alliances behind the scenes, and biding her time

  • ruled with intelligence, a firm hand, and a mind set on modernization

  • efficient and energetic


  • was a German princess but learned Russian and embraced Russian Orthodox faith, winning the loyalty of the people

  • mentally unstable husband became emperor in 1672, but he was deposed and murdered by a group of Russian army officers

  • she became empress of Russia

  • began state sponsored education for boys and girls
  • took part of Eastern Poland


  • absolute monarch

  • exempted many boyars from taxes

  • allowed many boyars to increase their stranglehold on peasants

  • peasants rebelled against serfdom, so Catherine made their conditions worse

  • many peasants were forced into serfdom under her rule

Interesting Facts

  • it was not known if she had any part in the murder of her husband
  • wanted to expand Russia's borders
  • she was ruthless and unkind to peasants