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Life of Catherine the Great


            "Catherine the Great was a victim to vanity and was easily manipulated by her lovers." Analyse this statement with reference to her reign, and include what impact she had on Russia, even through vanity.
             Voltaire once called Catherine the Great the new "Semiramis of the North."1 Semiramis was a legendary queen and founder of Babylon, noted for her wisdom and beauty. Often being paralleled to Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great is one of the most powerful female rulers of all time. Known for her controversial rule being Tsarina of Russia, Catherine was the daughter of Prince Christian Auguste in the small state of Anhalt-Zerbst, only to marry into immortality. The reason for this was Catherine was selected by Empress Elizabeth I to continue the Romanov Dynasty with her nephew Peter of Holstein-Gottorp. Catherine the Great was acknowledged as one of the most important leaders of the Napoleonic Era. However, Catherine's achievements are overshadowed by the influence her lovers have over her and her controversies. Charles Fran├žois Masson once summarized Catherine's greatest weakness as vanity, "that unfortunate rock so fatal to every female. Her reign will ever bear this distinguishing characteristic of her sex."2.
             In its own right the reign of Catherine the Great was impressive, but it was made all the more important because she was a women.3 The mere fact that Catherine II, a small German princess without hereditary claim to the throne, ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796 amid the loyalty of the great mass of the people, and the respect and admiration of her neighbours, is sufficient proof of the force of her character. Her title to be considered a great reforming ruler is by no means equally clear.4 Catherine had the power, not her lovers. Her reign is confused by her sexuality as a reign that was outshined by her controversies. Nevertheless, Catherine's reign had changed Russia, making it a more powerful nation, regardless of being influenced by her lovers.


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