Week VI: 7 Oct. Catherine the Great and Paul
Assignment: R&S, pp. 235-255; Dmyt. pp. 73-93, 100-117, 137-138, 141-142, 149-152, 326-328
R&S, pp. 235-255 (Ch. 22):
How did Catherine (Ekaterina) prepare herself "to be the wife of a Russian sovereign" (p. 235), and what do we know about her education, interests, and personality?
How did Catherine II become Empress and what characterized her first years in power? And how did she consolidate her position of power?
What were Catherine II's aims in creating the Legislative Commission? Was she proposing creating a constitutional state when she issued her Instruction for the Commission? Explain.
Who was (and who wasn't) involved in the work of the Legislative Commission, how did it determine the aspirations and needs of their "constituents," and what were the results?
If we interpret Catherine II's motivation in creating the Legislative Commission as pursuit of means to make the government's use of the people and land more efficient and effective (similar to the goals of Peter I---in other words, to create what historian M. Raeff has called a "well-ordered police state," then was the Commission a failure? Explain.
Who was Pugachev and what do the authors consider most important about the mass rebellion that he led in 1773-1774? Pugachev promised to end serfdom, yet also organized "his" government as an autocrat. What does that tell us?
How do the authors connect the Pugachev rebellion to Catherine II's 1775 local government reforms and what exactly did these reforms involve?
The authors argue that Catherine II protected the interests of the landowning nobility (gentry). Many historians have argued that Catherine was trying to creation "estate identities" among her non-serf subjects, as a method of increasing the State's ability to mobilize and "use" the population. In European legal history, "Estate" refers to a social group with specific shared rights and privileges encoded by the law and recognized by the Crown.] "Estate identity, then, would be the sense of belonging to a coherent social group with distinct legal rights and privileges. SO, here's the question: What measures did Catherine II take that might have contributed to the consolidation of the gentry as an "estate"?
What happened to the status of the enserfed peasantry under Catherine the Great?
Remember that Peter I believed that the Autocrat should use Russia's people and resources to promote the interests of the State. What policies of Catherine II do the authors mention that involved the movement of people (and the transfer of property) for State interests?
The authors repeat an old truism of Russian diplomatic history, that "Peter the Great had solved one of the three fundamental problems of Russian foreign relations: the Swedish. Catherine the Great settled the other two: the Turkish and the Polish" (p. 245). Explain what this means.
What were Russia's aims visa vis Turkey, and how did Catherine II "solve" that problem?
What were Russia's aims re. Poland, and how did Catherine II "solve" that problem? How do the authors compare the results to events re. Turkey?
How did Catherine II respond to the French Revolution of 1789, and did her view of that revolution change in 1793? Explain.
How do the authors access Catherine the Great's legacy?
What do the authors stress most about the motivations, personality, and policies of Emperor Paul?
What polices regarding serfs and the gentry do the authors emphasize in their discussion of Paul?
For which side in Paul initially intervene in the war against the French revolutionaries, what were the results, and when and why did he switch side?
Dmyt. pp. 73-93, 100-117, 137-138, 141-142, 149-152, 326-328:
***Catherine II's Account of Her Accession to the Throne, 1762 (pp. 73-78).
How does Catherine explain the events leading to her coup and the reasons that Peter III "had to" be removed from power?
Who actually put Catherine in power, and what does this tell us? (Think about how Peter I, Anna, and Elizabeth had come to power...)
Based on her own account, how and why did Catherine manipulate and use symbolism in assuming and consolidating her power?
Why does Catherine, a German by birth, describe Peter III as a "foreigner," a Lutheran, etc.?
***The Nakaz, or Instruction, of Catherine II to the Legislative Commission of 1767-1768 (pp. 79-93)
What aspects of this Instruction seem in accord with the Enlightenment concept of the "rule of law" based upon the principle that states and peoples, like everything else in creation, function properly only when the function in accord with "natural law"?
How does Catherine describe the "natural state" of Russia? In particular, how does she define it culturally and politically. Who exercises power in Russia, on what terms, and why (according to Catherine) is that "natural"?
How does Catherine define "equality before the law" in this document? Think about her conception of Liberty--how does it differ from the conceptions of Liberty that would form the basis of the American and French revolutions? (The key here is understanding how she defines the relationship between law and liberty...)
This is a tough question, but what logical contradictions seem to exist (at least to our eyes) between Ch. V's discussion of law and liberty and the discussion of the nature of laws in Ch. VI and Ch. VII?
From what you've read, did Catherine II behave in accord with the principles laid out in Ch. VIII and Ch. IX? Explain.
How does Catherine explain the State's interest in improving the quality of life of the peasantry and limiting the scope of gentry "taxes" imposed on serfs? On whom does she lay blame for taxing the peasants--on the state or the nobles? And from what you've read, did she take measures to ease the burdens on serfs?
How does Catherine explain the State's interest in private property? From what you've read, did she really implement policies to promote private property?
Does Catherine support the principle of laissez faire (free trade) [an idea then being discussed by economic thinkers in France and that would take its most famous form in the ideas of Adam Smith a decade later]?
How does Catherine conceive of the purpose, mode of diffusion, and target audience for education?
How does Catherine define the Nobility in Ch. XV? Think about this--was she defining noble status entirely in terms of service to the state? Or as a hereditary "estate" that voluntarily serves the state as a matter of honor? Why would that distinction be important (think about the questions I asked about R&S)?
What about Ch. XVI defines the "middle sort" as a distinct social estate (again, think about the questions I asked about R&S)?
Several historians (e.g., G. Freeze) have argued that Catherine was consciously trying to create a society composed of social estates, like that in Old Regime France. Her goal, then, was to create a "constitutional order" in the sense that other Early Modern European monarchical states had "constitutions." What about this Nakaz would seem to support that contention?
***The Russo-Polish Treaty and the First Partition of Poland, 1773 (pp. 100-104)
In this treaty/agreement, what did the Poles promise the Russians, what did the Russians promise the Poles, and (based upon what you've read) did the Russian government keep its promises?
***Catherine II's Manifesto Against Pugachev, 1773 (pp. 104-106)
How does Catherine describe Pugachev and his army?
Does Catherine suggest in anyone that the rebels have real grievances? Explain.
***Pugachev's Emancipation Decree, 1774 (pp. 106-107)
First, notice how Pugachev signed this decree! What does that tell you?
What long term social grievances was Pugachev addressing (or exploiting) in this decree?
Notice, was Pugachev calling for the end of all noble landownership?
Historian M. Raeff has argued that the Pugachev rebellion shows that peasants resented serfdom and the Cossacks resented State encroachments on their "traditional" rights, but that neither group (nor Pugachev himself) opposed the system of Autocracy. What evidence in this document would support that interpretation?
***The Treaty of Kutchuk Kainardzhi, 1774 (pp. 107-113)
Riasanovsky argued that this treaty basically "settled" Russia's "Turkish problem"--what in the treaty shows this? (Think about the textbook--what did Russia want from the Turks, and what did they get in this treaty?)
***Catherine II's Charter to the Nobility, 1785 (pp. 113-117)
How did Catherine explain her reasons for issuing this charter?
How does this document define membership in the nobility? Who is noble, and what does that mean?
What sorts of legal rights and privileges of the nobility are explicitly addressed in this document? Who is the document protecting nobles from?
What kinds of economic rights and privileges of the nobility are explicitly addressed in this document?
Among the corporate (estate) privileges of nobles in Western Europe under the Old Regime (most famously in France, but elsewhere as well) was exclusion from royal taxes. Did this document recognize that Russian nobles hade similar privileges? Explain.
Among the corporate (estate) privileges of nobles in Western Europe under the Old Regime was the right to convene district noble assemblies (most famously, the noble law courts, or Parliaments, in France). Did this document recognize that Russian nobles hade similar privileges? Explain.
So, again, back to the argument that Catherine was trying to restructure Russian society on the basis of legal "estates": how might we use this document in support of that contention? What counter argument might you make?
***Paul's Law on Imperial Succession, 1797 (pp. 137-138)
What principle for succession did this decree establish, and how did that differ a) from Peter I's law on succession; b) from the way new Emperors and Empresses had actually been picked in the 1700s?
***Catherine II's Decree on Deportation of Serfs to Hard Labor, 1765 (p. 141)
How did this decree strengthen the gentry's (already enormous) power over "their" serfs?
Look back at what Catherine said in her Instruction to the Legislative Commission about punishment and due process under the law. Based on this document, did the Empress include serfs among those to whom such principles must apply? Explain.
***Paul's Decree on the Reduction of Work Days for Serfs, 1797 (p. 141)
Riasanovsky argues that Paul was hostile towards the nobility; what in this decree seems to suggest that?
Think for a second about the details of this decree. What does it tell us about serf life and about the basis of noble wealth?
***Newspaper Advertisements for the Sale of Serfs, 1797 (p. 142)
Were all serfs used for agricultural labor? Explain.
What do these adds tell us about the legal status of serfs?
What do the adds suggest about gentry attitudes towards serfs?
***Russian Explorations in the North Pacific, documents from 1786/1787 (pp. 149-152) and An Imperial Decree From Emperor Paul Granting Special Privileges to the Russian American Company, 1797 (pp. 326-328)
First of all, what strikes you about the locations being discussed in these documents?
With whom were the Russians competing here, and what was the basis of their claim to the territory?
What were Russia's aims in claiming this territory? How had they been using it and how did they intend to use it?