Week V: 28 Sept. From Peter to Catherine the Great
Assignment: R&S, pp. 223-234; Dmyt. pp. 49-64, 69-73, 140-141, 143-149
R&S, pp. 223-234 (Ch. 21)
Do the authors conceive of the period 1725-1762 simply as an interregnum between two great leaders (Peter the Great and Catherine the Great), during which weak and corrupt figures ruled and nothing particularly important happened? Explain.
How did Peter I's second wife, Catherine, end up Empress? What do the authors want us to remember about the brief reign of Catherine I?
What do the authors want us to remember about the short reign of Peter II?
How and why did Anna end up Empress in 1730, and what characterized her rule after she abolished the Supreme Secret Council?
Why do historians often characterize Anna's reign as the rule of the "German party" and what was the "Bironovshchina"?
What became of Emperor Ivan VI? Do the authors see his successor, Elizabeth, as marking a sharp break with the reign and policies of Anna? Explain.
In sermons, speeches and various forms of political symbolism, Empress Elizabeth (Elizabeta) was portrayed as a the embodiment of the virtues of her father (Peter I) and as the restorer of Peter of the Great's policies. Do the authors see her this way? Explain.
Who actually dominated politics and policy making under Elizabeth?
What do the authors want us to remember about Peter III?
What happened to Peter III in 1762?
What do the authors consider to be the most important "basic social process" at work in Russia between 1725 and 1762?
During this period, in what ways did the nobility (gentry) increase its power, influence, and independence from the sort of service that Peter I's had required of them? Give specific examples!
How did the growing power of the nobility relate to the status of the peasantry? Did life for serfs become better or worse in this period? Explain.
The authors argue that Russian foreign policy remained consistent from the reign of Peter I through the reign of Peter III. What evidence do they give to support this (and what was the "checkerboard system" of foreign policy)?
Dmyt. pp. 49-64, 69-73, 140-141, 143-149
***"Events Surrounding the Assumption of Power by Empress Anna, 1730" (pp. 49-56)
In his description of the brief reign of Peter II, how does Manstein (a German serving in the Russian army) describe noble opinion regarding the reign of Peter the Great? And how does he describe the political forces at work during the short reign of Peter II?
Who gathered to discuss the problem of succession after Peter II's death, and why did they choose Anna?
What restrictions did the Council impose on Anna and why?
Did Anna, from her first actions on returning to Moscow (e.g., at the village of Sviatskii), behave as if she intended to stand by the "deal" she had made with the Council? Explain.
According to Manstein, how did Anna and her party undermine the position of the Council and build support for her assumption of autocratic rule?
According to this account, how did Anna actually go about "overthrowing" the Council and abrogating her constitutional agreement?
***"Events Surrounding the Assumption of Power by Empress Elizabeth, 1741" (pp. 57-64)
How does Manstein describe the "mood" among the high nobility after Anna's death? And how would you describe the "removal" of Biron as Tsar Ivan's regent and the imposition of Princess Anna in his place?
How did Princess/Grand Duchess Anna reward her supporters after this coup?
According to Manstein, how and among whom did Peter I's daughter Elizabeth build support for another coup (against Grand Duchess Anna)?
Describe how Elizabeth actually went about seizing power.
In her first weeks in power, how did Empress Elizabeth punish her opponents and reward her supporters?
***Peter III's Charter to the Nobility, 1762 (pp. 69-73)
How did Peter III describe the aim of the reforms Peter I had imposed on the nobility (mandatory service and education, etc)?
How did Peter III justify abolishing mandatory noble service?
According to this decree, would noble rank still depend upon service? Explain. Did Peter III expect that nobles would no longer serve the state???
Did the decree really wipe out Peter I's program for mandatory education of young noblemen? Explain.
What other rights and privileges were nobles guaranteed in this decree?
***Anna's Decree Against Peasant Flights, 1736 (pp. 140-141)
Did this decree reduce the burden placed upon serfs, reduce the landlords' power over serfs, reduce the number of serfs, etc? What did it do?
Might we actually interpret this document as an indication that the Enlightenment was influencing Russian political thought? Explain.
***Read the documents on Russian exploration in the North Pacific (pp. 143-149), and be prepared to discuss how you think these relate to our other readings.