Discussions of Catherine II as an “enlightened despot” usually emphasize her attempts to reform the social and political bases of the Russian Empire and to gain the active support of the nobility and gentry in governmental activity. Catherine denned enlightened government as wellordered government, achieving its policy and programs through bureaucratic and political means rather than with the sheer force that many of her predecessors had used.
The term “Russification” is seldom used with reference to the period of Catherine II, even though it was in her reign that the Cossack Sech was abolished, the special privileges granted by Peter I to the Baltic provinces abrogated, and the first successful assimilation of Russia’s Muslim subjects into the Russian state accomplished.
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