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Throughout history Russia has been viewed as a regressive cluster of barely civilized people on the verge of barbarism In the eighteenth century ideas of science and secularism grasped hold of Europe and Russian Czars realizing how behind Muscovite culture was sought out this knowledge attempting to imbed it into Russian society Catherine II was one of these Czars She listened to both the ideas of the philosophes and the problems of her people and strove to enlighten Russia by codifying the laws establishing an elected government funding hospitals and forming a functioning school board Her attempts however were met with only partial success Her reforms received much criticism especially from the serfs and Catherine was forced to realize through the Pugachev Rebellion in 1773 that enlightening all of Russia was an impossibility Catherine IIs greatest glory was seen in her foreign policies as she solved two fundamental problems for Russia by winning victories over Turkey and Poland As well she established a League of Armed Neutrality and spoke out against the French Revolution Catherines reign created both prosperity and poverty for Russia In order to decide whether she was truly great one must evaluate her accomplishments upon the foundation of Russian idealsAt the end of the seventeenth century Russia was a country in transition The death of Czar Alexis in 1676 marked a change in Russian society a movement from traditional Muscovite culture toward new educated concepts Reforms in the 1650s divided and weakened the Russian Orthodox Church and a few bold individuals began to adopt a semi-westernized lifestyle By western standards however Russia still seem backward and at best a fringe nation of Europewithout benefit of middle class universities academies or secular culture Oblensky and Stone 144 The rebellion of the musketeers or streltsy in 1682 exposed a web of destructive feuds religious superstition and xenophobia within Russia Peter I took the throne in 1682 and reigned until 1725 with themes of war
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