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The Beginning

She was born a princess in germany then she married the grand duke of modern day Russia. However she didn't really like her husband, however she had support of the grand duke's (now King) Mother. Then he mysteriously was assassinated. Cathrine the Great then took power as The Queen of modern day Russia.

The Reign

After taking power she expanded russia border's to the stunning size it is today. Catherine had ambitious plans regarding both domestic and foreign affairs. But during the first years of her reign her attention was directed toward securing her position. She knew that a number of influential persons considered her a usurper, or someone who seized another's power illegally. They viewed her son, Paul, as the rightful ruler. Her reaction to this situation was to take every opportunity to win favor among the nobility and the military. At the same time she struck sharply at those who sought to replace her with Paul.

By 1764 Catherine felt secure enough to begin work on reform, or improving social conditions. Catherine's rule was greatly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, and it was in the spirit of the Enlightenment that Catherine undertook her first major reform. Russia's legal system was based on an old and inefficient Code of Laws, dating from 1649. Catherine's proposal, "The Instruction," was widely distributed in Europe and caused a sensation because it called for a legal system far in advance of the times. It proposed a system providing equal protection under law for all persons. It also emphasized prevention of criminal acts rather than harsh punishment for them.

Foreign affairs began to demand Catherine's attention. She had sent troops to help her former lover, Polish king Stanislaw, suppress a revolt that aimed at reducing Russia's influence in Poland. Soon Turkey and Austria joined in by supporting the revolution in Poland. Two years later, after lengthy negotiations, Catherine concluded peace talks with Turkey. From this Russia received its first foothold on the Black Sea coast. Russian merchant ships were allowed the right of sailing on the Black Sea and through the Dardanelles, a key waterway in Europe. Even before the peace talks ended, Catherine had to concern herself with a revolt led by the Cossack Yemelyan Pugachev . The rebel leader claimed that reports of Peter III's death were false and that he was Peter III. Soon tens of thousands were following him, and the uprising was within threatening range of Moscow. Pugachev's defeat required several major expeditions by the imperial forces. A feeling of security returned to the government only after his capture late in 1774.

Later Life

As she grew older, Catherine became greatly troubled because her heir, Paul, was becoming mentally unstable and she doubted his ability to rule. She considered naming Paul's oldest son, Alexander, as her successor. Before she was able to alter her original arrangement, however, she died of a stroke on November 6, 1796. While her legacy is open to debate, there is no doubt that Catherine was a key figure in developing Russia into a modern civilization.

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