Catherine the Great

(1729 - 1796)

The daughter of an obscure German prince, Catherine arrived in Russia in 1744 at the age of fourteen to marry the grand duke. When her husband gained power in 1762, she staged a military coup resulting in his death and her coronation.

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Inspired by Catherine the Great’s 1767 assertion that law should promote general happiness, Jeremy Bentham brought his own massive law code with him to Russia in 1785 to present to her. But the single time Catherine visited the western district where the utilitarian philosopher had rented a cottage, Bentham remained inside—“stubbornly diffident,” according to an account—and the two never met.

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