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Catherine the Great: A Short History by Isabel De Madariaga

By Isabel De Madariaga

An eminent student of Russian heritage the following provides the main informative, balanced, and up to date brief research of Catherine the nice and her reign. This variation contains a new preface facing lately came across resources and revised interpretations of the period.  
Praise for the sooner edition:
“A panoramic view of Russia’s social, political, monetary, and cultural improvement and of its emergence as a powerful strength within the overseas enviornment in the course of the thirty-four years of [Catherine’s] reign.”—Anthony go, New York instances booklet Review
“De Madariaga’s booklet often is the ordinary and a vital consultant for all scholars and students of Russian and eu background of the second one 1/2 the eighteenth century.”—Marc Raeff, Journal of contemporary History

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But the millions of peasants remained untouched by, if not actively hostile to, many of the features of Peter's new regime and bound by a social structure which perpetuated the arbitrary despotism of one legally defmed group over another. CHAPTER 3 Catherine's First Years When Catherine II seized the throne in June 1762 Russia was just emerging from the long and costly Seven Years War. Her financial situation was disastrous, the revenue uncollected, the armed forces unpaid, the administration in disorder, the Church hierarchy dismayed at the threatened secularization of their lands and the Church peasants in uproar in the hope of being removed from the Church and the monasteries and transferred to the category of state peasants.

But the ruler must never himself be ajudge. In dealing with the structure of society, Catherine maintained that there must be 'some to govern and some to obey'. Nobles were the descendants of those who in the past had distinguished themselves more than others, primarily by military service. Yet since any state would be destroyed without justice, so nobility could be acquired by civil as well as by military virtues, by judges and officials, as well as by soldiers. The 'middling sort of people' were also free.

It did not mean a written constitution. Fundamental laws were basic traditions which were so deeply rooted in a given society that no monarch, however absolute, not even say Louis XIV, would act in opposition to them without extremely grave cause. Absolute rulers thus respected a certain number of habits and institutions. These usually included respect for the 'state' or dominant religion in a country, like Roman Catholicism in France or Anglicanism in England; or for the law of succession, which excluded women in Bourbon France, but not in the Habsburg lands; or for the existing rights and privileges of social groups, like the nobles, or of urban corporations like the free cities of the Holy Roman Empire.

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