Why Is Montesquieu Important In The Russian Enlightenment Era

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Born into German nobility, Princess Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt- Zerbst became the portrait of Russian enlightenment and subsequently immortalized in Russian history as Catherine the Great. Following a coup and the murder of her husband Peter III, Catherine reigned as empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796. Her reign was simultaneously supported by the enlightenment era whose ideas began to spread throughout Europe. Supported by philosophes like John Locke, Montesquieu and Voltaire, the enlightenment era contested previous perceptions of the individual within society. Theories like reasoning began to play an important factor in the reformation of western empires by the turn of the nineteenth century. However within the ruling elite of the west, the enlightenment era was highly controversial. Many rulers during this era transformed their governing style …show more content…
In his treatise The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu critiques the enlightened idea that every individual is reasonable and “educable.” Montesquieu states in the first book of his treatise that, “Before there were intelligent beings, they were possible; they had therefore possible relations, and consequently possible laws.” While Montesquieu is not contesting the idea that individuals are reasonable, he is stating that individuals are reasonable according to the physical nature that surrounds them. So, as Russia expanded so did the amount of different ethnic groups. Catherine, under the gaze of Montesquieu 's critiques, began to promote institutions that favored the ethnic diversity of Russia. “A month after her coronation, Catherine instituted a settlement program with financial incentives and the promise of religious freedom to encourage immigration.” This encouragement for the ethnic diversity of Russia by Catherine was common during her

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