Epoch of Palace Revolution
Russian Culture in 1725-1762
Accumulation of knowledge and growing demand of the country for skilled specialists were creating more and more difficult problems in the sphere of education. In 1731 on the initiative of the former Peter's I supporter prosecutor-general of Senate P.I. Yaguzhinsky Land Military Boarding School for the Nobles was established.
In the course of time Naval, Artillery and Engineering Schools were established, being under special government protection. Educational establishments, such as gymnasium and University were provided for in the structure of Academy of Sciences, established on the Peter's I Decree in 1724. However, poor financial base, lack of organization, and the staff of the foreign teachers, who didn't speak Russian, caused low level of knowledge of the students. Since in 1758 M.V. Lomonosov became the Head of science and studies department of Academy of Science, the situation had improved.
Owing to him teaching of humanities obtained higher level, basic subjects were taught in Russian, teachers' stuff was completed with the most gifted students of the Academic University. Since the beginning of 1750s M. V. Lomonosov concentrated on the organization of the new educational and science center - Moscow University. Opened in 1755, the University had three faculties: philosophic, including physics-mathematics and linguistic departments, medicine and the faculty of law. Characteristically, there wasn't a theological faculty, which was a traditional faculty in European educational establishments of that type.
In the first quarter of the XVIII century the new organizational base of Russian science was worked out. In 1725 invited from abroad foreign scientists arrived in Russia and L.L. Blumenkhros, physician in ordinary, was assigned to the first President of Academy. The status of Petersburg Academy was close to the status of Paris and Berlin Academies, which were supported by the Government, but depended on it less then Russian Academy.
Prominent scientists gathered in Academy of Science: mathematicians L. Euler and D. Bernoully, astronomer J. Delisle, physicists G. Rikhman and F. Aepinus. Lomonosov's scientific activity was of real pioneering kind. A notion of atomic-molecular structure of substance, developed by him, the formulated principle of conservation of motion and matter, notions of kinetic origin of heat, the research on atmospheric electricity, theories on color formation, the ideas about change of the surface of the earth in the course of time and a row of other discoveries became the main points of the growth of wide range of sciences.
The priority of the work of Academy included studying of geography, nature of Russia and ways of life of its inhabitants of different nationalities. A number of scientific expeditions were conducted. The second Kamchatka expedition under the leadership of Captain-Commander Vitus Bering (1733-1743) appeared to be the most successful one. In the course of the expedition North-Western America was discovered, the strait, named after the Head of the expedition, the northern sides of Siberia were described; Curilsky islands and Northern Japan were mapped.
Historiography moved ahead considerably. By the middle of the century history knowledge turned into science, the works of V.N. Tarpischev having contributed to it. Concerning the approach to the subject of the study, his four-volume 'History of Russia', covering the events up to the end of the XVI century, was a real scientific work. M.V. Lomonosov worked at history with a great success too; he was interested mostly in the ancient period of Russian history and in the time of Peter I. He wrote 'The ancient history of Russia from the beginning of Russian folk to the death of grand prince Yaroslav I, or to 1054 ', 'Short chronicle of Russia with genealogy ', historic poem 'Peter the Great' and other works.
In the second third of the XVII century the first literature style - classicism - formed in Russia. On the first stage of its development the most important problems were the problem of creation of the new literary language, reforming of versification and working out the strict system of genres. The base of modern literary language, forming in that time, was influenced by Lomonosov's teaching about three styles: high style, including words, common for the Church Slavonic and Russian languages; middle style, including only Church Slavonic words; and low style, including only words of the Russian language.The genres of tragedy and comedy obtained the most complete development in the works of A.P. Sumarokov (1717-1777), who wrote 9 tragedies and 12 comedies.The genre of the poetical satires, mastered by A.D. Kantemir, was to extirpate vices, such as ignorance, cupidity, avarice, drunkenness, hypocrisy etc.
The reform of versification was connected with the name of the first professional literal man D.K. Trediakovsky. (17031769). The achievements of Russian dramaturgy created good conditions for developing of Russian theater. At the end of 1740s in Yaroslavl the first distinctive company of Russian actors under the leadership of the outstanding actor F.G. Volkov, the son of a merchant from Kostroma, appeared. In 1752 Yaroslavl actors were invited in St. Petersburg and in 1756 were included in the company of newly established Russian theatre. The theater settled in so-called Golovinsky house on Vasilyevsky island, Sumarokov was assigned the director of the theater. At the same time a theater appeared in Moscow: its company consisted of the amateur actors - students of Moscow University - and the actors of Lokatelli's Italian Comic Opera. Nevertheless Moscow theater didn't exist long: most of its actors were transferred to St. Petersburg in 1761.
In the second third of the XVIII century baroque spread. Emotional elation, elaborateness, wide use of contrasts, hyperbole and illusion effects were the characteristic features of the style. V.V. Rastrelli, S.I. Chevakinsky, D.I. Ukhtomsky were the most prominent masters of baroque in Russian architecture.
The Epoch of Palace Revolutions
The Epoch of Palace Revolutions and reforms of the Government apparatus of Russian empire in the reign of Catherine I, Peter II, Anna Ioannovna, Elizabeth Petrovna, Peter III.
After the death of Peter I Russia stepped into the time of Palace Revolutions. Enormous overstrain of the country during 25 years of wars and reforms, connected with it the necessity of correction of the government course, the conditions of military-police state, created by Peter - all these caused the original Russian 'tradition' of the Palace Revolutions.
In the conditions, when the public life was totally controlled by the Government, legal politics didn't exist at all, Palace Revolutions became the only way of solving the contradictions between the main components of absolutism - autocratic power, the governing people and the dominating estate. The tension in this triangle became crucial, which was caused by the extremely disadvantageous for the nobles correlation between system of privileges and the pressure of the government, and increasing autocratic power, which led, to a certain extent, to breaking up with its own social base. To add to this, there was no unity inside the ruling circle.
On the eve of Peter's death, on January 25-26, 1725, the dissent happened to be among the higher officials of the country. One group (the president of Judicial Collegium F.M. Apraksin, the president of Commerce Collegium D.M. Golitsin, the president of Military Collegium, N.I. Repnin, Senator V.L. Dolgoruky, the president of Stats-Kontor Collegium I.A. Musin and Chancellor G.I. Golovkin) wanted the Peter's I grandson - Tsarevich Peter Alekseyevich - to be enthroned, and the system of regency to be established, so that Peter's wife Catherine Alekseyevna together with Senate could rule.
The other group (his Grace Prince A.D. Menshikov, prosecutor-general of Senate P.I. Yaguzhinsky, general I.I. Buturlin, diplomat and the Head of Secret Office P.A. Tolstoy, vice-president of Synod F. Prokopovich and others) wanted to see Catherine on the throne as the sovereign. The discussion went far, but skilled maneuvering and - the most important - support of Guards'( Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky) regiments provided for enthroning Catherine Alekseyevna on January 28, 1725, after Peter's the Great death
The Reign of Catherine I (1725-1727)
In 1702 Catherine I, the daughter of Lithuanian peasant Marta Skavronskaya appeared to be among the captives of Russia, taken in Marienburg. Her marriage with Peter I took her to the top of the power. However, her outlook and business sense were poor and didn't allow her to be the proper successor of Peter the Great. Not capable to act independently, the empress in fact transmitted her duties to several officials.
According with the Decree from February 8, 1726 the new organ of higher power - High Secret Counsel was established. A.D. Menshikov (the initiator of the creation of Counsel), F.M.Apraksin, G.I. Golovkin, D.M. Golitsin, A.I. Osterman and P.A. Tolstoy became the members of Counsel. So, there was only one representative of the old aristocracy - Prince D.M. Golitsin, four members owed their being the nobles to Peter I, and an emigrant from Westphalia A.I. Osterman took a special place among them. Despite the representative complement and wide competence, Counsel wasn't an oligarchic organ, limiting autocracy. It remained bureaucratic, though very influential, establishment inside the system of absolutism.
It was under control of the empress and her personal Cabinet under the leadership of the experienced secretary A.V.Makarov.The policy of High Secret Counsel was characterized by refusing Peter's program of the wide change, which was considered to be too expensive for the country. First of all, most of the local establishments of Peter's time were liquidated; judicial and administrative duties in guberniyas were transmitted to Governors of guberniyas, and in provinces and districts - to voyevodas; some collegiums were abolished, the others were merged, to add to this the stuff was being twice reduced, magistrates were being liquidated, the role of Senate reduced, too.
The system of taxes was changed. Counsel reduced poll-tax by 4 kopeks and called back military commands, which during the reign of Peter I used to be the parallel authority to the local administration with wide range of police functions. But reckoning that gubernya or district's officials would manage to collect taxes and debts didn't proved itself. That's why since 1728 military commands were regularly sent to districts to collect taxes again.
At last, commercial and industrial policy was corrected. The protectionist regulations of 1724 were revised: customs duties on foreign goods were reduced a bit; however, independent foreign trade of Russia in Western Europe remarkably decreased. The Low about estate trade from 1726 allowed the nobles to sell goods produced in their villages without limitations. On the whole the trade and industry, being deprived of financial and administrative support of the government, appeared in a difficult situation after Peter's death.
The Reign of Peter II (1727-1730)
In May, 1727 Catherine I died. According to her will Peter II was assigned to her successor on the throne, and High Secret Counsel was assigned to the collective regent till Peter's II coming of age. This politic combination was worked out and accomplished by Menshikov, who reckoned on marring his daughter to the young emperor and thus to became a real ruler during the reign of Peter's successors.
Peter II was an unbalanced, inconstant boy; he didn't show the interest to anything, except hunting, and seemed to be perfect for manipulating by ingenious favourite. First time after Peter's II enthroning things went according to Menshikov's plan: he managed to keep Tsar-boy under his control, made him and his daughter Maria engaged, obtained new privileges, among which there was a title of Generalissimos, appropriate only for members of the royal family.
However, in summer 1727, when, because of his illness, his activity grew less, the young emperor changed his attitude, avoided his former mentor and didn't conceal that he had new favourits - the Dolgorukys, father and son. It turned out that in the time of need Menshikov didn't have devoted supporters, and his own protege, vice-chancellor A.I. Osterman, organized the plot against him. In September 1727 Menshikov was arrested and together with his family exiled to Siberian town Beresov, where he died soon. The reaches of Menshikov's family were confiscated; part of it was spent on the preparation of the coronation of Peter II in Moscow, where the court had moved.
Menshikov's fall led to changes in High Secret Counsel: two Dolgorukys became its members - talented diplomat Vasiliy Lukich and Aleksey Grigorievich, rather common person, who obtained his weight due to his son's relationship with the emperor. The Dolgorukys decided to marry Peter II to Ivan's sister Catherine Dolgorukaya. The wedding was to be on January 19. But on January 18, 1730, at night, the young emperor died at the age of 15. At a desperate attempt to hold the power, Dolgorukys tried to use the forged will of Peter II according to which Catherine Dolgorukaya would be the empress, but High Secret Counsel stopped them.
At the extraordinary session of the Counsel on the day of death of Peter II D.M. Golitsin took the initiative. That was he who suggested the candidacy of Curlandia dower duchess Anna Ivanovna for the reigning but not ruling sovereign. This choice answered the plans of Counsel to restrict the power of the monarch and to make the weakest candidate for the throne agree with it. After all the members of Counsel accepted the plan, V.L. Dolgoruky was sent to Mitava, bringing to Anna the text of 'conditions' to be accepted before her enthroning.
The 'conditions', presented to the would-be empress included the following: if there was no the agreement of Counsel, she couldn't declare a war or sign peace, approve the budget or introduce new taxes, give ranks higher than Colonel, grant land to anybody, assign to court officials, execute the nobles, deprive them of honour and property without the trial. Apart from it, she had to come to Russia alone, without her favourite - Count E.I. Biron. The suggestions of Counsel led to establishment of oligarchic rule - the empress was to preserve Counsel of 8 members and transfer the Army and the Guards under its control.
Having received Anna Ivanovna's agreement, on February 2 Counsel declared the news to the extended session with the higher officials of the Government. Nevertheless, the participants of the session didn't trust the secretly worked out project of the state reformation, and protested against it. Then Counsel allowed the nobles to take part in the discussion and express their considerations. By the middle of February seven alternative projects were worked out, which showed on the one hand, the agreement with the idea of restriction of the monarch power, and on the other hand, dissatisfaction with the aristocratic dictatorship presented by High Secret Counsel. The nobility demanded for themselves the wide representation in higher establishments and satisfaction of the needs of the estate.
The threat of failure of Counsel plan appeared from the other direction, too. While the problems with the nobles were being settled down, the supporters of the traditional form of absolutism, and the first - Ph. Prokopovich and A.I. Osterman, developed their activity. Skillfully playing on the public opinion, secretly sending detailed reports and advice to Anna, by the time of her arrival in Moscow (February 15) they prepared the ground for restoring the autocracy. The weakness of the constitutional movement in 1730, disagreement between the nobles and Counsel, growing opposition had made it possible for Anna to control the situation. Supported by the Guards and the growing number of her adherents, on February 5 at the reception in Kremlin Palace she torn the 'conditions' at public and declared herself the ruling empress. Counsel was dissolved and repressed.
The Reign of Anna Ivanovna (1730-1740)
Being ignorant and simple-minded, Anna Ivanovna preferred brutal amusements (such as shooting birds from the Palace windows) and her jester's playing to affairs of state, and in fact transferred her duties to the closest courtiers. A petty Curlandia landowner E.I. Biron (in 1737 Anna Ivanovna made him the Duke) became a distinguished person of her time.
From the very beginning the new Government was concerned about preserving the results of the Palace revolution of 1730 and finding new supports of the regime. Inaddition to the two Guards regiments, created by Peter the Great, another two regiments were introduced - Ismailovsky and Konnogvardeisky (horse guards). The empress and the circle of her attendants controlled all the movements and maneuvers of the Guards and paid them special attention.
In 1731 the Office of Secret Investigations was established, it was equal in rights and duties with Collegium and was out of Senate control. In the conditions of absolutism, the government used the Office as a mean of terror towards all the groups of malcontents.
In 1731 to make keeping the affairs of state better the Cabinet of Ministers was introduced and it was completed with chancellor I. Golovkin, vice-chancellor A.I. Osterman and secret Councilor Prince A.M. Cherkassky. (After Golovkin's death his place was taken first by P. I. Yaguzhinsky, then by A.P. Volynsky, and later by A.P. Bestuzhev-Rumin.) Having surpassed Senate, Synod and Collegiums, the Cabinet made the most important decisions, concerning affairs of state. Since the middle of 1730s three signatures of the cabinet-ministers had been equal the signature of the Empress. The Empress's favourite the chief chamberlain E. Biron covered the arbitrariness of cabinet-ministers, who in their turn completely obeyed him.
During the reign of Anna Ivanovna the pressure on the nobility was considerably lessened. In 1730 the articles of the Decree about primogeniture, which had established the principles of inheritance of the estate from father to son and thus limited the right to use their land according to their wish, were abolished. In 1731 Land Military School for the nobles was established, on graduating from which the young nobles could became officers. And at last, in 1736 the time of military service for nobles was decreased to 25 years.
Nevertheless, the affairs of state didn't satisfy even those who were close to the throne. For example, the president of Military Collegium field marshal B.Ch. Minikh, who was well received at cabinet-ministers', had to admit that 'Cabinet and all the way of governing during Anna Ivanovna were imperfect and even bad for the country'. During the decade the debts were constantly growing. To collect them military expeditions were being systematically sent to provinces up to 1736; in 1732 and 1733 because of tax interests the landowners were forbidden to move their serfs from one place to another, without announcing the Finance Collegium about it.
At the same time, huge sums of money were spent on keeping the Court with its endless celebrations and festivals. Favouritism flourished out of all proportions. Favourites - foreigners as well as Russians - emptied the exchequer. There was growing discontent among all the levels of society. The 'case' of Artemiy Petrovich Volynsky reflected the situation.
Having started to serve as a soldier in dragoons' regiment in the beginning of the reign of Peter I, Volynsky was quickly obtaining new ranks and in 1738 reached the top of his career - he became a member of the Cabinet of Ministers. He tried to influence the Empress, competing with Biron. Using the idea of defending Russian national interests, Volynsky was going to lessen the influence of 'German party' at the Court and to obtain popularity among compatriots. But if the second aimed was easily achieved, the first one appeared to be beyond his abilities.
In the circle of supporters, grouped around Volynsky (there were court architect P.M. Yeropkin, mine engineer A.F. Khruschov, the president of Commerce Collegium P.I. Musin-Pushkin and others among them), Anna's policy and her favourites were being condemned, and the plans of reformations were being discussed. The collectively drown up 'General project of improving domestic affairs of state' suggested removing foreigners from the government and giving way to the Russian nobles, recovering the leading role of Senate among other government establishments, improving judging by codification of rights, establishing University and Academies for clergy in order to spread education among Russians. But Biron and Osterman ceased all those intentions. In 1740 Volynsky was arrested and then executed, his supporters were severely punished.
In October 1740 Anna Ivanovna died. According to her will her great-nephew 2-month baby Ivan Antonovich was declared the Emperor and E. I. Biron - the regent. Baby's parents - Anton-Ulrich, the Duke of Braunschweig, and Anna Leopoldovna, the Duchess of Braunschweig and Mecklenburg, were discharged from the power. However, Biron was to fall. In November 1740, field marshal B. C. Minich, with the support of the Guards' troop, overthrew Biron. Anna Leopoldovna became the ruler. As for Minich, he almost didn't use the power he had obtained: in March 1741 A. I. Osterman managed to retire him. Thus vice-chancellor Osterman became the Head of the government.
The government, being used by political adventurers, mostly foreigners, was losing its prestige. In these conditions the memories about the great Tsar- Reformer became almost nostalgic. Hopes of recovering the glorious traditions of Peter I were being connected with his daughter Elizabeth Petrovna. This mood was strongest in Guards' regiments. That was Guards who supported Elizabeth, when on November 25, 1741 leading the Grenadier company she took the Palace, arrested the Braunschweig family and declared the beginning of her reign. The Palace Revolution of 1741 was of anti-German, patriotic character; though on the stage of the preparing foreign diplomats (the envoy of France marquis I.J. de La Shetardi and the envoy of Sweden E.M. Nolken) took part in it. Elizabeth was supported mostly by Guards of tax-estate origin. At first, the noble Guards and the aristocracy were reserved and a bit suspicious about her.
Elizabeth Petrovna, who, when being young, was kin on dresses, dances, masquerades, and at the mature age was weak and suffered from hard disease, was not able to attend to affairs of state systematically. Nevertheless, she understood the interests of the country and showed common sense, when finding gifted educated people, who could be of benefit to the country.
The Reign of Elizabeth Petrovna (1741-1761)
Immediately the new government faced difficult problems, left by predecessors: finances, the state of which made foreign diplomats consider Russia to be 'the weak state', confusing laws and management, mass escapes of serfs. The government tried to relieve the tension by easing the burden of taxes: according to the Decree of 1741 all debts for 17-year period were remitted, and in 1742 and 1743 the poll tax was temporarily reduced by 10 kopeks.
In the following years the government tried to increase the profit of the country by rising prices of salt and wine. The way of reorientation of budget revenue from direct to indirect taxation, which was being used in the countries of Western Europe, promoted the development of commodity-money relations. The government took the other measures in the same direction: in 1754 in-country customs were abolished; the institute of the City and General Magistrates was restored. In 1754-1762 the special commission was working out the new Code of Laws.
The distinguished statesman P.I. Shuvalov was the initiator of most progressive projects of that time. That was he who called the government's attention to the needs and necessities of merchants. However, being a big land and factory owner, tax-farmer and eager fast liver, Shuvalov was a contradictive figure and it called the hostile attitude to him in the Palace, what made his position of the reformer difficult.
Elizabeth recovered the importance of Senate, which it had in the time of Peter I, and it became the center of working out the main bills and of other more or less important events in 1741-1761. To add to this, Elizabeth Petrovna didn't refuse the practice of the Empress Councils. Since 1741 so called 'Meeting of ministers and generals' consisting of 11 people had been periodically gathered. In 1756 the new higher organ - the Conference at the Highest Court was established. It was to work out and conduct the measures of counteraction Prussia, which Russia faced in the Seven-year War. At the same time the activity of the Conference covered a number of other spheres: managing the Army, finances, personnel, and questions beyond the competence of Senate. The conference consisted of the most important persons of the government: the leaders of foreign policy department M.I. Vorontsov and A.P. Bestuzhev-Rumin, the prosecutor-general of Senate N. Yu. Trubetskoy, the head of Artillery general P.I. Shuvalov and the head of Secret Office A.I.Shuvalov.
The course of domestic policy, being directed by the limited circle of the higher state officials, was characterized by the increasing amount of privileges for the nobles, especially in 1750s. At that time the Credit Banks for the nobles were established, they lend money (for the household and other needs) to landowners on the small rate of interest. The nobility received the exclusive rights on winemaking. Having begun in the middle of the decade, the surveying of the lands was accompanied by the considerable extension of the nobles' land property (on the whole the square of the noble's land had became 50 million desyatins more (1 desyatin = 2.7 acres))
At last, in 1760 the Decree was issued, according to which landowners have the right to exile their serfs to Siberia with the following reckoning it towards giving a recruit to the state. However, together with pro-noble and pro-serf tendency of the sovereign power policy there were features of 'enlightened absolutism'. For example, in 1755 according to M.V. Lomonosov's project Moscow University was established. Elizabeth Petrovna's favourite, the educated grandee and the patron of arts, I.I. Shuvalov was assigned to its supervision.
On December 25, 1761 Elizabeth Petrovna died. Her nephew (the son of the elder sister Anna Petrovna and the Holstein Duke Carl Fridrich) Carl-Peter-Ulrich became her successor and was enthroned under the name of Peter III.
Peter Pheodorovich, though being declared the successor of the Russian throne at the end of 1741 and brought up at the aunt's court, wasn't prepared enough for his historic role. Superficial education and poor knowledge about Russia together with his impulsive character and inclination to the military drilling and parades did bad to his reputation and prevented from performing his good intentions.
The Reign of Peter III (December 25, 1761 - June 28, 1762)
The short reign of Peter III was marked by all the forms of government activity. It took less then half a year to issue a number of edicts, reflecting the necessity of humanization of the very system of authority and its attendance to the needs of unprivileged estates. Those were: liquidation of Secret Office, ceasing the persecution of religious dissenters, abolishing of trade monopoly limiting the development of enterprise, declaration of free foreign trade, transmission of monasteries' and Church lands under control of special Economy Collegium, which meant the beginning of secularization of the Church lands.
The Manifesto from February 18, 1762 exempted the nobility from obligatory civil service. The nobility was delighted with the event. But it was not enough to make the status of the sovereign power stable. Cruelty with high-rank bureaucracy caused by the intention to restore the discipline in the government apparatus, the attempt to introducing order in the Guards, which he compared with the host of Turkish Janissaries, made Peter III position worse.
Impulsive lawmaking and intention to take part in every affair, that often was beyond the emperor's abilities, made his position considerably more difficult. All those disadvantages could be balanced by collective higher organ of government management. However, this organ - The Emperor Council of nine members (the most important roles belonged to the intelligent and practical Secrete Secretary of the Emperor D.I. Volkov and the director of the Military School A.P. Melgunov) was introduced only at the end of Peter's III reign, in May 1762, and couldn't change the situation.
By that time Peter's wife Catherine Alexeyevna, nee the Princes of Angald-Zerbst, her favourite G.G. Orlov and his brothers, the field marshal hetman K.G. Rasumovsky, the tutor of the Grand Duke infant Pavel the outstanding Russian diplomat N.I. Panin and about 40 Guards officers formed the group of plotters against the Emperor and on June 28, 1762 overthrew Peter III. On July 6 he was killed in Ropshinsky Castle, near the capital, by the order of Catherine.
The six Palace Revolutions happened in 1725-1762 vividly proved the capacities of the courtier-bureaucratic opposition and the Guards as its force. The threat of Palace Revolutions showed the necessity of more careful taking into consideration needs of the nobility, of looking for the ways of dealing with the affaires of state, which wouldn't be protested by the most active groups of the nobles.
Social and Economical Development of Russia in 1725-1762
Despite the considerable changes, which took place in the first quarter of the XVIII century, concerning main factors of the social and economical development Russia still was a backward country. According to the second revision (census), conducted in 1745-1747, the peasantry constituted the greater part of the inhabitants of Russia (7,8 million men). 70% of the peasantry and 63,2% of the whole population were the serfs. And only 4 % of the all the inhabitants settled in towns and cities.
Slow growth of the population in towns and cities could be explained, first, by the insignificant people resources of this estate - those were peasants belonging to the royal court and to the state, and second, by the complicated conditions of moving to towns and cities. To became officially a citizen of a town or a city one had to be engaged in trade or crafts, and have capital not less than 300-500 rubles. Moreover, a peasant had to have the agreement of his fellow-villagers, and then on the new place of living had to pay double tax - for their old place and the new one - till the new revision.
The nobility constituted 1 % of the population of Russia. However, it possessed most of the land in the country. In the XVIII century the property of landowners compared to the previous century became four times more (81 million desyatins to 24 million desyatins of feudal lands in the XVII century). The mass granting the nobles with lands from palace and state funds was the most important source of this growth. Characteristically, the largest grants of that kind were given in 1728-1732 and in 1742-1744 and were the mean of encouragement of the devoted to the Court and its policy people. Most of the granted people represented non-aristocratic families, mostly from traders and industrialists.
The 'fortune' of the private participants of the Palace Revolution on November 25, 1741 could be a clear example of this process. 364 grenadiers of Preobrazhensky regiment were made nobles and granted with land. Russian absolutists state not only regulated duties of the owners but also confiscated chattel and real estate of those who were out of favour. So, during the first half of the XVIII century 128 estates were weakened by taking a part of them to the exchequer or by confiscating it. The very conception of property in Russian law was worked out only in the second half of the XVIII century.
Despite some disadvantages of the political regime in 1725-1762 there wasn't any economic decay or sluggishness observed. On the contrary, significant success was achieved in some industries. Thanks to development of the mining industry in the middle of the XVIII century Russia took the second place in smelting of cast iron (Sweden took the first place). Thus, in 1725 31 plants worked in the country, but in 1750 there were already 74 plants. By this time the demand on the Russian iron was of the highest level - 100% of all production. The noble businessmen brothers P.I. and A.I. Shuvalovs, the Vorontsovs, S.P. Yaguzhinsky invested the profitable metallurgy production.
Cloth, leather and paper production was working effectively. At the end of the 1740s the value of the cloth production was enough to stop importing cloth. From 1725 to 1750 62 new textile manufactures were established, and by the beginning of 1760s they constituted more than a half of all the manufactures working in the country, and the cost of their production dominated the other produced goods. Inside the textile branch, the first place was taken by the flax production, then cloth and silk productions followed. First manufactures appeared in provinces, close to the source of row materials - near Voronezh, in Ivanovo, Irkutsk and in other areas. Merchants' capital dominated in industrial building. Thus, during 1741-1770 merchants built 79 plants or twice as many as during the previous 40 years.
The state, being interested in development of domestic industries, encouraged manufacture- and factory-owners, transmitting them state plants on preferential terms, gave credits to merchants, introduced high import duties. Rapid growth of industry had already called acute need of mercenary workers in the first quarter of the XVIII. The lack of workers and prevalence of serfdom relations caused the wide use of measures of compulsion to provide the industry with labour force (assigning peasants to plants, the use of the recruits', tramps', exiles' and beggars' labour), and also caused the development of possessional enterprises. The number of assigned and possessional workers outnumbered free mercenary workers. The absolute prevalence of forced labour was characteristic for metallurgy industry of Ural.
Serious changes in the development of production powers and deepening the process of division of labour contributed into the development of domestic trade. The main trade centers were Moscow, St. Petersburg, Archangelsk, the cities of Povolzhie (Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Saratov, Samara, Rybinsk, Astrachan). The cities of Ukraine (Nezhin, Kremenchug, Poltava, Kiev) and the cities of Russian North (Vologda, Veliky Ustyug) played an important role of a middleman in the trade exchange between the center and the provinces. Abolishing of the duty rates in 1754 gave significant impulse to the development of Russian domestic trade.
At the same time there was the growth of foreign trade observed. By the middle of the XVIII century Russia hold an important position in the world food market. In 1750s annual export of grain constituted 70 quarters (1 quarter=210 liters), which cost 114 thousand silver rubles. To add to this, Russia exported wood, leather, hemp, Russian leather, tar, fat, rhubarb, wax, resin, fur, sailcloth, and linen cloth. Russian foreign trade was active, i.e. demand surpassed supply.
Foreign Policy in 1725-1762
The success of Russian foreign policy in the first quarter of the XVIII century and turning of Russia into the great state caused the hostile attitude towards the country on the side of most European states, and it was already shown in the time of the closest successors of Peter I.
England took clear inimical position: being afraid of loosing its role of the mediator in Russian foreign trade and of appearing to be in economical dependence on Russian shipbuilding materials, it was against Russia to be powerful in politics and the Navy. Growing international importance of Russia worried France, which, in order to counteract Russia, supported Sweden, and even financed operations against Russia on the Baltic. France and England spread a rumour about aggressive intentions of Russia concerning German states, reckoning to set Western and Northern states against Russia.
Hostility of the European governments was shown when delaying recognizing the Russian sovereigns' title of the Emperor (England, Austria, France, Spain recognized the title only in 1740s, and Rzeczpospolita - in 1764).
At the same time European diplomacy had to take into account the increasing role of Russia and according to the situation in Europe attract it to the certain political combinations. However, the long period of opposition in 1730s was changed by the improvement Russia-England relations, when in 1734 the agreement 'About friendship, mutual commerce and navigation' with the 15-year period of validity was signed.
Rapprochement between Russia and England called negative reaction on the side of French Government, which in reply turned to the policy of 'Eastern barrier'. To perform its plans France started organizing the alliance of Sweden, Poland and Turkey against Russia. The so-called war for 'Poland inheritance' in 1733-1735 appeared to be the first large conflict with the participation of Russia in the second quarter of the XVIII century. Ultimately, that was Russian military and diplomatic support that provided enthroning of August's II son, Saxon elector Friedrich-August. However Russian win made the Russia-France relations more acute. France tried to revenge by inciting Sweden and Osman Empire to act against Russia.
In 1735 Russia-Turkey war started. In the course of this war Russia tried to secure its southern boundaries, which were constantly threatened by Turkey and its vassal The Crimean Khanate, provide convenient trade ways to Asia by the main Russian rivers, entering the Black and the Caspian sea, and return lands, lost according to Prut agreement of 1711. With large losses Russian Army took Asov in 1736 and Ochakov in 1737. In 1739 the important battle of Stavuchany took place, it resulted in Turkish force retreating and leaving Russians the ways to the fortresses Khotin and Yassan. But on the whole, the results of the war, cost 100 thousand Russian warriors their life, were insignificant. According to Belgrade agreement of 1739 Russia got Asov, but didn't received the right to have the Fleet on the Asov sea and fortifications in Asov. Russia received a small territory in Right-bank Ukraine. Ultimately, the main strategic aims weren't achieved; Russia only managed to revise the conditions of Prut agreement. Anti-Russia Military Unity of Turkey and Sweden, concluded in 1739 with the help of French diplomacy, created unfavorable background for the further Russian foreign policy.
In 1741 Sweden started military operations against Russia. Impelled by France and Prussia, Swedish government strove to abolish the conditions of Nishtadt peace of 1721 and get back the Baltic lands. However, the attacking side overestimated its forces: military operations, taking place on the territory of Finland, showed the obvious superiority of the Russian Army. In 1743 in Abo the peace treaty was signed, which proved territorial acquisition of Russia in the Northern War and moved Russian boundaries 60 versts inside Finland beyond Vyborg.
Since 1744 the chancellor A.P.Bestuzhev-Ryumin, who was a professional diplomat and had started to serve in 1712, directed the foreign policy of Russia. Bestuzhev's program of foreign policy, which he called 'the system of Peter I', took into consideration common interests of Russia, England, Holland and the Austrian Empire. The first three states, not having mutual territorial pretensions, had long trade relations, and as for Russia and Austria, both were interested in keeping balance in Central Europe and in rebuff to the Osman Empire.
Russia had to fight against Prussia during the Seven-year war (1756-1763), which was a European war. England and France were fighting for the American and Asian colonies and for mastery on the sea. Having become stronger after the Revolution of the XVII century, England was stroking devastating blows to colonies and sea communications of absolutists France.
In 1757 Russian Army stepped on the territory of Western Prussia and soon seriously defeated Prussian forces near the village Gross-Egersdorf. In 1758 the bloody battle of Zorndorf took place, which ended in disgraceful flight of the Prussians. In 1759 the battle on the right bank of the Oder, near Kunersdorf, took place, and it resulted in total defeat of the best Prussian forces and Friedrich II appeared on the verge of suicide. After the campaign of 1759 the Prussian front didn't exit anymore. The way to Berlin was free. The capital of Prussia was panic-stricken. However, the lack of coordination among the allies caused the march to Berlin to be delayed till 1760. At last, on September 28, 1760 Russian forces came into Berlin. Berlin was forced to pay large indemnity, and its keys were sent to Elizabeth Petrovna. According to the Russian command's plan, taking of Berlin was to disorganize economical and political center of Prussia. The aim gained, the Russian Army started moving back.
But the Seven-year war hadn't finished with that yet: in 1761 Prussian fortress Kolberg on the Baltic sea capitulated. After that Prussian force were completely defeated and its last resources exhausted. Prussia was saved by chance. Peter III, enthroned on December 25, 1761, totally changed the course of Russian foreign policy. On the first day of his reign he sent a message to Friedrich II, where he announced his intention to set 'eternal friendship' between them. In April 1762 the peace treaty with Berlin was signed. Russia went out of the Seven-year war. Having come on the throne in June 1762, Catherine II condemned orally foreign policy of her predecessor, but nevertheless, didn't renew the war with Prussia and confirmed the peace treaty. Consequently, the Seven-year war brought no acquisition to Russia. It brought another results: Russian positions on the Baltic, won in the first quarter of the XVIII century, and international prestige of Russia proved to be strong, the valuable military experience was gained.
Social and Political Ideas
The attempt of Higher Secret Council to change the form of government in Russia in 1730 clearly showed the growth of political consciousness of the nobility and even intent of some groups to limit monarchy with the constitution. The most distinguished representative of this process was Prince D.M. Golitsin - the outstanding statesman, who consecutively held the position of Kiev Governor, the president of Camer- and Commerce Collegiums, the member of Higher Secret Council.
The historian of the XIX century D.A. Korsakov figuratively characterized Golitsin. He said, that Golitsin was 'bifacial Janus, standing on the edge of two epochs of our civilization - Moscow and European. One of his faces thoughtfully looks at the past of Russia, and the other presumptuously greets its future'. Historians believe the documents of Higher Secret Council, 'conditions' and Points of oath (or Project of form of government), worked out under his leadership, to be able to become the base for future Constitution. Golitsin is known to have gone much further than his colleagues planning transformation of political organization. He offered to share the legislative power between Higher Secret Council and two chambers of elected representatives of the nobility and the townspeople, which could promote the appearance of wide form of representative government. The failure of those plans made Golitsin confess bitterly: 'The feast was ready, but those who were invited weren't worth it.'
Adherents of absolutism and political principals of Peter I possessed an advantage. Characteristically, the 'constitutional movement' of January-February, 1730 received severe rebuff from the former associates of Peter I, led by the main ideologist of Peter I time Ph. Prokopovich. Later, intellectual union was formed inside this circle; Prokopovich called it the 'erudite team'. The scientist, poet and diplomat A.D. Kantemir, the statesman and historian V.N. Tatischev, A.P. Volynsky were the members of this union. The 'erudite team' exposed the development of those traditions of foreign and domestic policy of the epoch of Peter I, which provided political and economical power of the country, and also exposed the progress in the field of science and education. However, all the ideas and concepts of the 'erudite team' were based on the strong belief in unlimited monarchy, estates and privileges of the nobility to be rightful and unshakeable.
V.I.Tatischev (1686-1750) most completely expressed these views. In his theoretical and historical discourse Tatischev followed to spread in the West and popular among his associates in Russia theories of 'natural right' and 'social agreement'. Leaning on Aristotle's classification, Tatischev differed three known in history forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. Bearing in mind the geographical peculiarities of Russia and the mentality of Russian people, he believed only monarchy to be salutary for the country. Studying history he hold on the principals of real causality of events and phenomena, and rejected the idea of Providence in the fortunes of people, which had dominated since the Middle Ages. According to it, he declared enlightenment to be the main driving force of progress and as for the ways of educating people, he considered invention of writing to be the most important event, then followed Christianity, and the third place was given to book-printing.
The middle of the XVIII was the time of the beginning of enlightenment - the progressive anti-feudal ideology, connected with the negative attitude to serfdom, defending the interests of wide mass of people, consecutive protection of enlightenment and thorough Europeanization of Russia. The founder of enlightenment direction in Russia was M.V. Lomonosov(1711-1765).
Being of White Sea Coast peasant origin, Lomonosov, who managed to achieve the tops of knowledge, sought for accessibility of education - up to University education - for all the estates. He tried, as he could, to call the government's attention to the situation with tax estates in the country. In particular, in the article 'About preservation and increase of Russian people', which was written for the influential grandee of Elizabeth time I.I.Shouvalov, he directly pointed out those phenomena of people life, which caused high death rate and low growth of population: ignorance, absolute absence of medical service, drunkenness, conflicts between neighboring land-owner, which involved the whole villages into internecine wars, forcible marriages and misalliances; as for the reasons of escapes of the serfs, he thought it to be the abuse power of the land-owner and the burden of recruitment.
Lomonosov connected the hopes of better future with enlightened absolutism. He considerate the reforms of the first quarter of the XVIII to be the ideal of the government activity, and the example of enlightened monarch was Peter I.
Birth of the Empire - Peter the Great
Epoch of Palace Revolution
Russia in the second half of XVIII century
Epoch of Alexander I Reign
Epoch of Great Reforms
Alexander III Government
Russia in XIX-XX centuries. First World War