Week IV: 21 Sept.: Peter the Great
Assignment: R&S, pp. 197-222; Dmyt. pp. 1-49, 139-140
Midterm I Due.
Questions on R&S, pp. 197-222 (Ch. 20)
Why did the death of Tsar Feodor in 1682 spark a conflict between the Miloslavsky family and the Naryskin family? And what traumatic events did Tsar Peter I witness as a child?
Who actually ruled Moscow in 1682-1689 (during which Peter I and Ivan V were formally the "co-tsars"? How do the authors describe the policies of Prince Basil Golitsyn during this period?
What events led to the fall of Sophia and the Miloslavsky clan? Did this mean that Peter I ruled directly? Explain.
What events finally led to Peter I's ascendance as Russia's ruler in deed as well as in name? And when did he become the "sole" Tsar?
Describe Peter the Great. What do we know about his youth? How did his childhood shape his personality and his interests as an adult?
On p. 201 the authors first broach the topic of Peter's conception of the State and of his role as Tsar. What did Peter understand his role as Tsar to be?
Why did Peter surround himself with advisors/assistants who were from common (and even questionable) backgrounds as well as those from the boyar elite? What does this tell us about his goals?
In what sense did Peter's victory at Azov signal a new Russian approach to warfare, and what are the authors suggesting about the relationship between war and reform in Peter's reign?
What was Peter's 1697-1698 Grand Embasy? What was he trying to do, and what does this tell us about his general goals and his methods?
What does Peter's repression of the 1698 streltsy rebellion tell us about his methods of rule and about his personality?
When Peter returned to Russia in 1698, what sorts of reforms did he initiate right away, and what does that suggest about his goals?
In 1700 Peter signed a peace treaty with Turkey then immediately declared war on Sweden. Why, and what were his goals in the Great Northern War?
In 1700 the Swedes delivered the Russians a crushing defeat at Narva. How did Peter respond? And why might he have decided to build his new capital near the mouth of the Narva River in 1703 (look at the location of St. Petersburg on the map on p. 199)?
Did Peter have the full support of all his subjects during the Great Northern War? Explain. Who rebelled, where, and why?
The Russians won a resounding victory against the Swedes at Poltava in 1709, yet the authors say that a year later Peter's fortunes had "reached perhaps their lowest point" (p. 207)--why?
What were the main consequences of Russia's eventual victory in the Great Northern War?
Was Peter concerned only with expansion to the West? Explain.
Some historians argue that Peter's domestic reforms were all piecemeal responses to the exigencies of war, whereas other historians argue that Peter had a clear and comprehensive plan for westernizing reforms, independent of the needs presented by the Great Northern War (etc.). What position do the authors take on this issue? Explain.
What do the authors consider the most important of Peter's military reforms, and what were the consequences? (For instance, how did conscription affect the gentry? The peasantry? How was service in the military reorganized and what did that mean? Did the military reforms ultimately strengthen the Tsar's personal administrative power?)
OK--back to an earlier topic that is crucial to this week's discussion! How did Peter understand the nature of the Russian State and the powers of the Emperor? Did this represent a change in Russian political culture? Explain.
What do the authors consider the most important of Peter's reforms of central government administration and why? (For instance, what was the Imperial Senate and what were its powers? What were the kolegia and what were their functions?)
Were Peter's attempts at reform of local and provincial government successful? Explain. (What were his goals and what actually happened?)
What was the Holy Synod, and how did its creation in 1721 change the relationship between Church and State in Russia?
In general, do the authors consider Peter's administrative reforms to have been a success? Explain.
Why (and how) did Peter increase taxes throughout his reign? What was the (1718) Head Tax, who did it tax, and what were the consequences?
Peter expected not only the Emperor, but also all of teh Emperor's subjects to serve the State. What steps did he take to require service from the gentry?
What was the 1722 Table of Ranks and how did it change the status of the Russian nobility?
Many historians (most recently, Peter Anisimov) have stressed that Peter's economic policies fit into the European practices of mercantilism. How did Peter make use of Russia's economic resources (including its people), and what steps did he take to strengthen the economy? (Did his measures include the abolition of serfdom?)
What steps did Peter take to "westernize" Russian culture, and at whom were these measures aimed? Explain.
Why did Peter force his son Alexei to renounce the throne, and what happened to Alexei?
How do the authors explain the 1722 Decree on Succession?
The authors describe two common views of Peter, which were typical of historians until the late 1800s. What were these two views, and are they still typical among historians who specialize in Imperial Russian history? (Do most specialists, for instance, still see Peter's reign as a complete break with the Muscovite past?)
How do the authors evaluate Peter's historical importance?
Questions on Dmyt. pp. 1-49, 139-140
***"The Revolt and Punishment of the Streltsy in 1698" (pp. 1-3)
According to Korb, who organized the defense of Peter's crown against the rebellious streltsy in 1698? What argument did Gordon make in an effort to dissuade the rebels?
How does Korb describe the rebels before and then during the fighting?
How does Korb describe Peter's participation in the interrogation of the rebels?
What alleged plot did the interrogation uncover? (You should note that Peter and his advisors had already determined who they would blame and why before the tortured a single rebel....)
What symbolic use did Peter make of the torture and execution of the rebels? What function might such spectacular displays of violence have served? (Do make note of how the methods and sites of the executions evolved.)
What sort of portrait does Korb paint of Peter's personality?
***1699 Decree on a New Calendar (p. 14)
How did Peter explain the need for calendar reform, and how would you fit this document into the idea of "Peter as Westernizer"?
***1711 Decree on the Duties of the Senate (p. 15)
How can we relate this decree to the following of Peter's goals:
making government more efficient and less arbitrary?
funding the Great Northern War?
reorganizing the army?
increasing foreign trade?
***1714 Decree on Compulsory Education (pp. 15-16)
Historians point out that Peter used force to compel nobles to adopt Western manners, customs, and educations. What in this decree supports that argument?
***1714 Decree on Primogeniture (pp. 16-17)
How did Peter justify the imposition of primogeniture and how can we relate this to Peter's thinking about the primacy of state interests and the requirement that all must serve the state?
Empress Anna repealed this decree in 1731, but even before then it was not followed by noblemen. Speculate on this question: why not?
***(undated) Instruction to Russian Students Abroad (p. 18)
What does this document tell you about Peter's reasoning in sending students abroad?
What does it tell you about his view of the purpose of education?
What does it tell you about his concept of mandatory state service?
***1721 Decree on the Right of Factories to Buy Villages (pp. 18-19)
What is "mercantilist" about this decree? What does it say about the State's use of economic resources, including people?
***1722 Table of Ranks (pp. 19-21)
What do the categories in the actual Table tell us about Peter's model for the state administration and state service?
Did the Table of Ranks complete destroy the "old" distinctions between "lower" and "higher" noble families (the sorts of distinctions of rank and honor that were encoded in the mestnichestvo books?) Explain.
What elements in this decree allowed for non-nobles to become noble, and for them to pass nobility on to their children? What would that be important?
***1724 Decree on the Founding of the Academy (pp. 21-23)
According to Peter, what was the distinction made in Europe between Universities and Academies, and why wasn't he following this model in Russia?
What does this decree tell us about Peter's conception of the purpose of education and the methods for its diffusion?
***"The Problem of Imperial Succession: Peter's Relations with His Son Alexei," 1715-1718 (pp. 23-33)
Let's consider these five documents as a whole....
What do these documents tell us about Peter's conception of the State, the Tsar's role, and the relationship between the Tsar and his subjects?
What do these documents reveal about Peter's conception of war and the purposes of war?
What do the documents (especially the 1718 "Condemnation" reveal about Peter's personality?
***1721 Obligations and Rights of Russian Orthodox Priests (pp. 34-42)
What problems with the clergy did this decree set out to reform?
Does the decree in some regards resemble the Table of Ranks and the Decree on Education of Nobles? Explain!
In what ways does this decree turn priests into agents of the state?
In what ways does the decree establish mechanisms for the oversight of the celrgy and the policing of theological Orthodoxy?
***Pososhkov on Poverty and Wealth, 1722 (approx) (pp. 42-49)
Was Pososhkov's understanding of state's economic goals consonant with what we find in Peter's decrees? Explain.
What did Pososhkov consider the biggest problems threatening Russia's economy and what solutions did he offer?
Did the methods Pososhkov propose for implementing his "solutions" differ significantly from Peter's methods? Would you consider Pososhkov an opponent or an advocate of autocratic rule, and what does this tell us about Russian political culture circa the 1720s?
Finally, would you expect noblemen to have endorsed Pososhkov's views? Explain.
***1707 Decree Against Peasant Flights (pp. 139-140)
What does this decree tell us about Peter's position regarding serfdom and the legal status of Russia's peasants? Explain.