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The role of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great in modernizing Russia Essay

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Updated: Dec 26th, 2018

Peter and Catherine were both leaders determined to modernize Russia and make it competitive with the European countries. Peter initiated the western ideas and Catherine ensured continuity of his reforms as well as implementing additional cultural reforms. The reforms helped in modernizing Russia but hurt the peasantry in the process.

Peter realized that Russia was behind the Europeans in terms of technology, culture and reliable government systems and tried to modernize the state between the years 1689 to 1725. He was exposed to European tactics when he went to Kolomenskoe and interacted with European militaries.

He interacted with monarchs and worked as a carpenter in Holland where he participated in building ships. On returning to Russia, he became a ruler with passion to implement reforms on the things he had experienced such as technical schools, simplifying alphabets, introducing new calendar, initiating military drafts, replacing the title Tsar with Emperor and banning the traditional Muscovite dress for men (Freeze 125).

Catherine’s leadership was largely continuation of the reforms that Peter had started towards modernizing Russia. Among the reforms she introduced were extending her country’s influence to Europe, constructing heritage museum, increasing funding for buildings in the state and building academies and libraries. Catherine stopped implementing the reforms to avoid criticism by the French when the French revolution began.

Catharine’s reforms also adversely affected the peasantry through serfs who were used to cater for expenses incurred in the reform process. The two leaders helped Russia through implementation of European government and military tactics as well as culture through arts led by Catherine. They were successful in making Russia competitive with European countries but their reforms hurt the peasantry (Freeze 125).

The League of Nations from its Birth to Its Death

The League of Nations was meant to create order in the world after the world war one that led to destruction. The move was based on critique of the international systems that existed before the world war one, which led to the carnage between the years 1914 and 1918 and aimed at removing the four old European laws. National self-determination principle for independence states was to be introduced in place of monarchial empires.

Secret diplomacy would also be phased out and open discussion would be introduced to solve disputes. Alliances for military systems would be removed from the governance and replaced with collective guarantees to secure the nations. Finally, there would be harmonized disarmament to prevent tension occurring in future, which had been created by possession of massive arms (Sluga and Amrith 251-274).

The League of Nations worked well for a decade after world war one and by 1920, it had 48 states that had signed an agreement to work together. The League of Nations succeeded in resolving conflicts between various states such as Germany and Poland about the Upper Silesia.

However, the League of Nations had challenges in executing its responsibilities. According to George who was one of the founders of the League of Nations, its membership was spreading fast but lacked force. The League of Nations was unable to offer security in some instances especially when the conflicts involved a powerful state.

For example, Japan, which was a powerful state, challenged the League of Nations in Machuria where it wanted the status quo maintained. In this case, the league was not able to reach a verdict on which state was guilty.

These weaknesses made the league less credible. When its members started preparing to end world war two they preferred preparing a new organization under the name United Nations (UN), which implemented a number of aims outlined in the League of Nations to restoring the league (Sluga and Amrith 251-274).

American President Wilson’s Fourteen Points and the Importance of Such a Plan for the World

The American President Wilson’s fourteen points contained the aims of the United States of America in the war to bring peace and justice to the world. However, the allies of America termed the points as controversial and resisted the ideas at the Paris peace conference. Despite the resistance, the points had formed the basis enabling Germans to surrender in 1918.

Navigation upon seas was to be made free in waters that were not territorial, all economic barriers were to be removed and trade conditions made equal to all states. Arms were to be limited to the level of domestic safety and Russian territories were to be evacuated as well as evacuating and restoring Belgium and freeing of French territories.

The importance of the points was to make peace processes open once they began and avoid secret understandings. They were meant to correct the nations that violated human rights making life of the victims impossible. The world was to be made safe to live in after implementing the points where the nations would determine their own institutions and protected against unfair dealings by other nations.

The points aimed at uniting the entire people of the world to be partners in promoting peace. When a state did wrong, it had to be corrected and the states that complied with the objectives of the League of Nations reinforced to ensure they continued doing right. The war was to continue until the objectives were achieved. The points ensured no division in purpose occurred and that nations against imperialists remained united to the end of the war. The unity was meant to eradicate the chief provocations of the war (Snell 364-369).

Works Cited

Freeze, Gregory. Russia a History, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Sluga, Glenda, and Sunil Amrith. “New Histories of the United Nations.” Journal of World History 19.3 (2008): 251-274. Print.

Snell, John. “Wilson on Germany and the Fourteen Points”. Journal of Modern History 26.4 (1954): 364-369. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2018) 'The role of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great in modernizing Russia'. 26 December.

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