Russia to 1917 Syllabus

History 356 Fall 2003


No group assignments for this week (everyone will be responsible for discussing all the readings)

Study Questions, Week 8

Cracraft, Chapter 5:


Who was Catherine II, and how did she come to power?

de Madariaga, "Catherine as Woman and Ruler":

Explain de Madariaga's view of Catherine's personality. What were Catherine's strengths?

Describe a "typical" day for Catherine.

Explain the ideas that influenced Catherine's views on government.

What were Catherine's plans for Russia's government? Why did she abandon them?

Where Catherine's abandoned reform plans of any consequence? Explain.

What elements of Catherine's private life seem important to understanding her as ruler?

Who were G. Orlov and G. Potemkin, and why was the later more important?

How did Catherine's personality change later in her reign?

How did politics work under Catherine? Did she face any elite opposition?

Explain the basis of "public" and clerical opposition to Catherine's rule.

What don't we know about Catherine's reign?

What is de Madariaga's thesis?


Raeff, "Pugachev's Rebellion":

Based upon Raeff's essay, explain the general causes contributing to the Pugachev rebellion.

What specific regional conditions contributed to the rebellion (explain at least 5)?

Explain the social and political organization of the Cossacks and why their grievances contributed to the rebellion.

Explain the overall dynamics of the rebellion.

According to Raeff, why did Pugachev fail?

What does Raeff consider important about the image Pugachev projected?

What does Raeff consider important about Pugachev's concept of the state?

What is Raeff's thesis?


Introduction to Documents:

Explain the background and nature of Catherine's Legislative Commission and her "Great Instruction."


Catherine Instructs the Legislative Commission (1767):

Based upon this document, explain Catherine's view of the function of law. How did her view contrast with earlier Russian concepts of law (including Peter's)?

Explain Catherine's view of Russian government and the powers of the Monarch. How did her view contrast with earlier Russian concepts of state power (including Peter's)?

Explain Catherine's views on crime. How do these contrast with earlier Russian concepts?

Explain Catherine's views on property. How do these contrast with earlier Russian concepts of property?

Explain Catherine's views on education.

What does Catherine see as the function of the Legislative Commission?


Catherine's Charter to the Nobility (1785):

How did Catherine link reform to imperial expansion?

How did Catherine explain her reasons for issuing this charter?

How does this charter "define" noble status?

What sorts of privileges did nobles gain, and why is this important?

Did this charter end noble service? Explain.

What did the charter mean for the status of serfs? Explain.

What did the charter mean for the noble economy? Explain.

In what ways did the charter permit the nobility to organize as a coherent social group?

In what sense did the charter give nobles as a corporation a voice in government?

How did the charter protect noble property?

How could a noble prove his or her nobility, and what does this tell you?

Based upon this charter, how had the meaning of noble status changed since Peter?


Radishchev (excerpt from A Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow, 1790):

Based upon the intro. (p. 198-200), explain who Radishchev was, why he wrote this book, and what became of him?

What is R. saying about the toll taken on peasants by serfdom?

What is R. saying about the difference between the demands made on state peasants and on manorial serfs?

According to R., how might Russian agriculture be made more efficient?

According to R., what mortal danger did Russia face and why?

What sorts of behavior on the part of landowners does R. attack?

What is the point of R.'s description of a property auction?

What is the point of R.'s description of the peasants in Peshki?

Given this selection, why did Catherine consider Radishchev a dangerous rebel?

Russia to 1917 Syllabus