Two Topics Instructions Below – Essay Example

Discuss in detail the reigns of Frederick the Great and Catherine the Great. What were their greatest achievements? What were their worst blunders? Frederick the Great, officially known as Frederick II, ascended to the throne of King of Prussia on May 31st, 1740 and reigned until his death on August 17th, 1786. Frederick the Great was unlike his predecessor and father, Frederick I, who was a military strongman. Instead, Frederick the Great often outsmarted his enemies through greater organization and military tactics. When Frederick the Great took the throne at the tender age of 28, Prussia consisted of states scattered over a wide region in what is now known as Eastern Europe. During the first 32 years of his reign, Frederick the Great was officially known as the King in Prussia; after he united the kingdom, he was able to take the title King of Prussia.
Catherine the Great, also known as Catherine II, was one of the more respected Russian leaders and also the longest-ruling leader for a female. Catherine the Great only became the Empress of Russia after her husband, Peter III, was assassinated at the end of the Seven Years’ War on July 9th, 1762. Many people suspected that Catherine the Great had something to do with the assassination of her husband. While Peter III was still in power, he was very sympathetic to Prussia, something which made him unpopular during his reign. When Catherine the Great came to power, she rejuvenated Russia and established it as one of the major political powers of Europe.
Frederick the Great’s major achievement was elevating Prussia to be a major political and military power on the continent. Frederick the Great was able to achieve this through significant gains made during the Seven Years’ War. Later on in his life, Frederick the Great was able to prevent Austria from taking over Bavaria during the War of Bavarian Succession. Catherine the Great’s major accomplishment was to modernize Russia so that it could compete with the Western Powers. Catherine the Great allowed Russian nobles to opt out of military service, something which increased her power within the military.
Frederick the Great’s major blunder was to provoke Saxony and thereby commencing the Seven Years’ War. At that time, Saxony was neutral, so the attack was not too well-received by some of Prussia allies at the time, such as Austria, France, and Great Britain. Frederick the Great was widely criticized for this move because he had already made alliances with all of these countries. Catherine the Great’s major blunder was to ignore the claims of peasants, something which let to a revolt during the latter years of her reign. Because Russian nobles were not required for military service, the majority of new recruits consisted of peasants; as a consequence, the number of peasant laborers and farmers decreased and so did Russia’s exports.