Catherine the Great
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There is much debate over whether Catherine the Great was an enlightened despot. This paper discusses that, despite contentions that her policies were enacted to only benefit herself, Catherine the Great studied the works of leading enlightened thinkers so that she could make educated decisions for her country. It explains how Catherine the Great's exact goals as a ruler may be found in her 1766 work, entitled "Instructions to the Commissioners for Composing a New Code of Laws," which references enlightened thinkers of the day and promoted the creation of a free society. Although Catherine the Great did not achieve all of her enlightened goals, she took steps that allowed them to be realized in the future.
From the Paper:"Despite occasional shortcomings, Catherine the Great ruled Russia as a true enlightened despot from 1762 to 1796. During that time, she corresponded with many renowned thinkers of the enlightenment and converted their theories into law. Additionally, she made significant agricultural and scientific reforms, and she attempted to bring equality to Russian society. Although she failed to end serfdom, she promoted the ideals of equality for all under the law. Because of this, Catherine the Great must be considered a dedicated and successful enlightened despot."
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"Catherine the Great" 12 January 2004. Web. 09 October. 2015. <http://www.academon.com/essay/catherine-the-great-46453/>