Thomas L. Lowish

  • Fellowship year:2020-2021
  • University: Univeristy of California-Berkeley
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Early Modern Europe
  • Dissertation Title: Catherine the Great, Sovereign Empress, 1762-1796
  • My dissertation traces the development of new forms of sovereignty in Russia in the eighteenth century. It demonstrates that Catherine the Great (1762-1796) was a principle innovator in this regard. In contrast to her predecessors, Catherine believed that monarchical sovereignty ought to involve others in the exercise of power and that such an arrangement need not undermine the monarch's standing or bind their will. In fact, if this arrangement was properly devised and managed, it would guarantee the smooth and predictable flow of power, while at the same minimizing friction or contention that might undermine its legitimacy. This conception responded to contemporary concerns about despotic government and was a distinctively modern conception of monarchical soverneignty that was new to Russia. It fundamentally structured the empress' activities as monarch, bringing immediate order, and clarifying standards about correct rule beyond her reign.