Catherine the Great was one of the outstanding rulers of the Russian Empire. The period of her rule, the Catherinian Era, is often called the Golden Age of the state and its nobility. During her reign, the country acquired new lands, gained control over Crimea, and increased its significance for the global discourse. Gradually, the Russian Empire transformed into the most powerful European state, impacting international policy and protecting its interests by using its military and economic power. However, regardless of all these achievements, Catherine the Great failed to address some fundamental problems of Russia, such as corruption, serfdom, and favoritism, that impacted the state in the future and preconditioned its collapse.
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The age of Catherine is characterized by the continuous growth of the economic power of the state and its military power. Multiple successes of Suvorov, Potemkin, and other outstanding generals improved the image of the Empire and, at the same time, increased its dependence on serfs and private landowners. The empress contributed to the growth of the gap between nobility and common people by providing multiple privileges to the first cohort and obliging serfs to work hard for their owners to support their luxurious lifestyles and needs of the state. Generally, serfdom became one of the most topical problems of the Russian Empire because of the absence of any rights among the representatives of this group, their dependence on landowners, and growing dissatisfaction with their state. During the Catherinian Era, the scope of serfdom became extremely large, and millions of people had to work hard to guarantee their survival.
At the same time, the fast economic growth and the development of serfdom contributed to the rise of corruption. Civil servants, local authorities, and members of the senate engaged in unfair schemes to generate additional income and establish capital. Bribery became one of the most effective ways to acquire the demanded post or be promoted. The given social stigma became one of the integral parts of the state machine and set a basis for its decreased effectiveness and the abuse of power.
Finally, having become a ruler due to the insurrection, Catherine had to use the support of powerful allies to hold power and be able to control the functioning of the state. In the next decades, it transformed into the practice of favoritism, the practice presupposing provision of extra authority, power, and money to individuals who attracted the empress or entered into romantic relations with her. For instance, a military leader, statesman, and nobleman Potemkin managed to become the second person in the state due to his ties with Catherine and her patronage. He was an active and leader; however, favoritism became a dangerous trend typical for the country and preconditioned the emergence of multiple concerns in the future because of the lack of competence among persons who were provided with special authorities.
Altogether, the rule of Catherine the Great was characterized by multiple achievements. Russia turned into the most influential European state with a powerful army, a robust economy, and excellent opportunities for future rise. However, the period was also marked by some problems such as serfdom, corruption, and favoritism. The lack of attention to them and the inability to find appropriate solutions created the basis for the increase in social tension and the future collapse of the state.