Russia was always behind the rest of the world in basically all aspects. Their army and navy were practically useless until Peter the Great came along and westernized his nation. Catherine the Great succeeded in making the Russian people more worldly, and cultural. In the time between Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, great social and political reforms were made, which westernized Russia and brought them up to speed with Europe. Peter the Great took Russia from medieval times to the present. Peter went to Europe and took in the sites, studied their way of life. He returned to Russia with ideas and drive.
He changed the capital of Russia to St. Petersburg from Moscow, which really marked the beginning of Russia’s modernization. Peter converted Russia’s army from a mass of uneducated volunteers to an organized, professional army. Peter also made all men in Russia cut off their beards, because the people of Europe didn’t have beards. There was some uneasiness over this, since many men treasured their facial hair, but ultimately, this did help in the westernization. Also men, especially nobles started wearing more European clothing. Catherine the Great was a fantastic Russian ruler, most famous for acquiring the long-desired warm water port.
Catherine made use of the well-trained army that Peter built up, by expanding the Russian empire. The arts thrived under Catherine. Philosophy became very important during this time period, especially in larger cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg. Overall, Russia thrived during the reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Peter westernized the people of Russia and bettered the Army, while Catherine the Great brought in a warm water port, expanded Russia and supported the arts. These two rulers brought Russia to its potential.