Unit 2 FRQ Essay #1
1. Analyze the methods and degrees of success of Russian political and social reform from the period of Peter the Great (1689-1725) through Catherine the great (1762-1796).
Peter the Great and Catherine the Great were both the main significant figures in the rise of Russia in the 17th and 18th century. During Peters reign from 1682 to 1725 he created St. Petersburg and reformed his bureaucracy. During her reign from 1762 to 1796, Catherine the Great focused on reforming Russian society and patronizing the arts. One of the reasons the new absolutist regimes of the late 17th and 18th centuries seems so different from their predecessors was that many of them consciously created new settings for themselves. Versailles, Schönbrunn, and Berlin were all either new or totally transformed sites for royal courts. But only Peter the Great went so far as to build and entirely new capital; St. Petersburg. Soon after he assumed full powers in 1696, she shifted his court to St. Petersburg. It was the finest eighteenth century city built in classical style. But gradually Russians took over their own institutions. For example, military academies produced native officers, and by the end of Peter’s reign they had little need of foreign experts. In ruling Russia, Peter virtually ignored the traditional advisory council, and concentrated instead on his bureaucracy. He carried out countless changes until he had created an executive system much larger than the one he had inherited. He copied western models where nobles ran the bureaucracy and the army. Peter organized his administration into similar departments. Each had either a specialized function, such as finance, or responsibility for a geographic area. The result was an elaborate but unified hierarchy of authority, rising from local agents of the government through provincial officials up to the staffs and governors of 11 large administrative units and finally to the leaders of regime in the capital. Peter began the saturating bureaucratization that characterized Russia from that time on. After the reign of Peter the Great was that of Catherine the Great. She married Queen…