Catherine the Great’s Instruction (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: Catherine the Great’s Instruction formulates a series of progressive principles to reform Russian law and governance in the latter eighteenth century.
Summary of Event
On July 30, 1767, Catherine the Great, empress of Russia, published her Instruction (or “Nakaz”). This lengthy document, which took two years to prepare, reflected Catherine’s concern with the unsatisfactory conditions existing in Russia when she came to power in 1762. It also showed her familiarity with many advanced ideas of Western political philosophers. Dealing with almost every area of Russian life, the document was intended to be a general statement of basic philosophical principles that might affect the specific political, social, economic, and cultural life of Russia.
The document was submitted in 1767 to a legislative commission created for the purpose of transforming the Instruction into a code of laws for all Russia. Yet her advisers quickly and substantially modified the monarch’s original efforts. According to Catherine herself, more than half of her proposal was eliminated or substantially modified before it reached the legislative commission. This large and cumbersome body included more than six hundred representatives of several classes and occupations such as the nobility, merchants, free peasants, and Cossacks, for example. The assembly labored for approximately two years on the...
(The entire section is 1386 words.)
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