Failures of Catherine the Great of Russia

Despite her achievement, Catherine the Great (Catherine II) had her share of failures. These included Ruthlessness and the Emergence of Assignation rubles.

Ruthlessness of Catherine the Great

Just as her ambition became vanity, Catherine II’s admirers sometimes noticed that she lacked something – charity, mercy and human sympathy. Indisputably, however, for the first time since Peter the Great, Russia had acquired a sovereign who worked day and night, paying personal attention to all kinds of matters, great and small.

In 1764, Catherine placed her former lover on the Polish throne. In the idea of partitioning Poland came from the Prussian king Frederick the Great, Catherine took a leading role in carrying this out in the 1790s. In 1768 she formally became protector of the Polish–Lithuanian Common wealth, which provoked an anti-Russian uprising in Poland. After smashing the uprising she established a system of government fully controlled by the Russian Empire through a Permanent Council under the supervision of her ambassadors and envoys (Max, 2005).

Emergence of Assignation rubles in the reign of Catherine the Great

This kind of notes emerged due to large government spending on military needs, leading to a shortage of silver in the treasury. In foreign trade, almost all calculations were conducted exclusively in silver and gold coins. Assignation ruble circulated on equal footing with the silver ruble and there was an ongoing market exchange rate for these two currencies. The use of these notes continued until 1849 (Rodger, 2005).


Catherine II did a lot for her people and nation. Being a woman she used all of her knowledge to change the lives of many people in Russia. She promoted education by placing great emphasis on proper and effectual education of both sexes she also showed her greatness by enlightening the nation through creation of several hospitals.

Though ruthless, she led her nation peacefully by signing treaties and liberalization. She prepared her Instructions, that is, a set of principles which reflected her opinions on the political and legal structure desirable for Russia.

She restored the pride of her people by recovering lands that had been taken over by their enemies. Through her, Russians repossessed the Black Sea, to obtain their natural southern border, and reclaimed the fertile lands lost to the Asiatic (Rodger, 2005).


Rodger N.A.M (2005) Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649–1815. London, p.328

Max (2011) if these walls….Smolny’s Repeated Roles in History, Russian Life (2006):19-24