This posting answers the following two questions:
1) What were Louis XVI's most serious mistakes during the French Revolution? Had he been a more able ruler, might the French Revolution have been avoided? Could a constitutional monarchy have succeeded? Did the revolution ultimately have little to do with the competence of the monarch?
2) How and why did Russia emerge as a great power while Poland did not? How were Peter the Great's domestic reforms related to his military ambitions? What were his methods of reform? How did family conflict influence his later policies? Was Peter a successful ruler?
This posting answers two questions. The first is about the actions and abilities of Louis XVI during the French Revolution as well as other outcomes that might have been possible had the king made different decisions. The second question compares the rise of Russia and the failure of Poland to do the same. Peter the Great is briefly examined to understand how his military and domestic reforms impacted the nation he ruled.