Russia to 1917 Syllabus

42.356 Fall 2003

Study Questions, Week 9

I want everyone to do all of the readings for this week, but in class I will ask the following "teams" to report on specific readings:

Group Assignments:

Note that some readings are designated as "all groups"


Cracraft, Ch. 6  All Groups

Introduction:  According to Cracraft, when did Russia become an Empire?

Cracraft, "Empire versus Nation":   Group 1

In the last several weeks we have discussed Peter I's political philosophy. What is Cracraft's thesis about Peterine ideology?

Why does Cracraft call Peter's ideology: absolutist; imperialist; a "hegemony theory"?

How does Cracraft's thesis differ from Cherniavsky's thesis about the "duality" of Russian national consciousness?

Does Cracraft consider Peter's ideology traditional-patrimonial? Explain. Why was it "absolutist"? Explain.

What is Cracraft's evidence re. "Petrine hegemony theory"? Give examples.

How did Peter explain his condemnation of Mazepa? His war with Sweden? Annexation of the Baltic?

According to Cracraft, what were the domestic results of "hegemony theory"?


Raeff, "Imperial Policies of Catherine II":   Group 2

Explain the basis of Catherine's views on state administration (cameralism).

In this view, what was the "role" of society, and of the bureaucracy?

What internal contradictions does Raeff find in these ideas?

What view of human nature was implicit in the "well-ordered police state" ideal?

How did this Cartesian concept of human nature shape imperial policy towards: agricultural settlements; non-Russian economic elites; administrative reform; religious toleration; non-Russian political elites; education?

What, then, characterized Imperial policy towards the empire's diverse population?

What connections do you see between Cracraft's thesis and Raeff's thesis?


Shafrov Justifies the Empire (1717):   Group 3

Who was Shafrov? How does S. explain Peter's war with Sweden? The annexation of the Baltic?

How does S. explain the nature of the Tsar's authority?


Lomonosov extols Russian Greatness (1755):  Group 4

Who was Lomonosov? How does this document fit into Anisimov's ideas re. Elizabeth's "propaganda"?

How does this document fit into Cracraft's ideas re. "hegemony theory"?


Russia Annexes Crimea:  Group 5

Who was Potemkin? Does his reasoning in this document conform with Cracraft's thesis re. "hegemony theory"? With Raeff's thesis re. cameralism? Explain.

How did Catherine II explain annexation of Crimea, and does her position conform with the arguments of Cracraft and Raeff? Explain.


Kaiser and Marker

Baehr, "Rebirth, Renewal, and..." (pp. 406-408):   Group 6

What is Baehr's thesis? How does his point about 18th century political propaganda compare to other essays we have read (eg, on Elizabeth and Catherine II)?


De Madariaga, "Catherine the Great" (pp. 250-255):   ALL GROUPS

How does de Madariaga explain Catherine's political views? What was the purpose of her Legislative Commission?

What does de M. consider most significant about Catherine's 1755 Statue on Local Administration? Explain. Does this concur with Raeff's thesis?

To what extent and for what purpose were representatives of social groups to participate in local government? How effective was the new statute?

According to de M., what was the purpose of the 1785 Charter of the Nobility and the Charter to the Towns? Explain.

Why does de M. consider Catherine "enlightened"? Why has she been "harshly treated by historians"?

What is de Madariaga's main point in this essay?


Meehan-Waters, "Catherine the Great and Female Rule" (pp. 379-385):   Group 8

Were Catherine II's Russian contemporaries concerned with the idea of a woman ruler?

What about European observers? Explain.

In what ways did intellectuals like Karamzin attribute gendered characteristics to aspects of statecraft?

In what ways did women rulers actually increase the symbolic (as distinct from administrative) authority of the autocrat?

How does Meehan-Waters explain the difference between Russian and European attitudes towards female rulers?


Wortman, Development of a Russian Legal Consciousness (pp. 408-412):   Group 7

One of the stated goals of Catherinian reforms was to transform Russia into a law-based society (a society based upon zakonnost' [rule of law], rather than proizvol' [arbitrariness]).  Of course, the autocrat would stand above the law.... Based upon Wortman's essay, to what degree had the Petrine and Catherinian reforms created a "legal consciousness in 18th century Russia?


Freeze, "The Soslovie Paradigm" (237-41):   Group 1

Does Freeze agree with Bennett's thesis re. the division of Russian society into sosloviia? Explain.

Why does F. call the pre-Petrine Russian social structure an "orderless order"?

Did chin categories disappear with Peter's reforms? Explain.

What did sostoainie, zvania, and soslovie mean in late 18th century law? Did the meaning of soslovie change in the early 19th century? Explain.

According to F., what does the fluidity in the meaning of the term soslovie demonstrate?

Freeze is turning upside down the ideas of earlier historians regarding the role of the state, the 19th century decline of "social estates," and the division of Russia into 4 legal estates. Explain his thesis. How does it challenge the views of Raeff?


Statute on Provincial Administration (1775) (pp. 242-244):  Group 2

What seems to be the central aim of this legislation? How does this fit into Raeff's thesis (above)?

What sort of relationship between "center" and "locality" does this statute create?

What are the functions and responsibilities of local government according to this statue?


Charter of the Nobility (1785) (pp. 244-246) (also in Cracraft ch.5):   All Groups

In what ways did this charter "free the nobility"? What was to be expected of nobles?

What sorts of personal privileges were guaranteed for nobles, and what does this tell you?

What now defined nobility?

In what sense did nobles now have representation as a social estate? Explain.


Charter to the Towns (1785) (pp. 321-324):   Group 3

How did Catherine explain the importance of towns?

Does this charter protect property rights? Explain.

In what ways did the charter allow representative institutions?

What sorts of privileges and duties did townsmen have?

What sorts of privileges did members of the different merchant guilds have?

What sort of privileges and duties did owners of artisan workshops have?

Did this charter grant women any legal authority? Explain.

In what sense might we interpret this charter as dividing Russian society into distinct social estates?


Daniel, "The Merchants' View" (pp. 325-328):  Group 4

According to Daniel, what do the merchants' nakazy tell us about the way that merchants saw their own duties and needs and what they expected out of the state?

According to D., were Russian merchants in the late 1700s "forward looking" or "backward looking"? Explain.


Landlord's Instructions on Estate Administration (pp. 292-294):   Group 5

Based upon these documents, explain: the way in which landlords administered their estates; the structure of authority on serf estates; the level of landlord involvement in peasant affairs; the nature of manorial dues.


Edict on Sunday Labor by Serfs (1797) (pp. 294-95)  Group 6

How is this edict explained, and what does it tell you about the 3-way relationship between state, landlord, and peasant?


Newspaper Advert. Listing Serfs for Sale (1797) (p. 295)  Group 6

What do these listings tell you about the serf market, the relative value of serfs, and the legal status of serfs?


Karzhavin on the Moscow Plague Riots (1771) (pp. 318-321):  Group 7

Who was Karzhavin?

How does K. explain the spark that ignited the 1771 riots?

Do you see a pattern to the violence? Explain. Who were the targets?

How were the riots put down? What does this description suggest about levels of social   tension in Moscow and about relations between commoners, elites, and the state?


Dowry of Avdot'ia Bogdanova (1787) (pp. 354-356):   Group 8

What does this document tell you about the "property relations" of 18th century marriage?

Compare this document to earlier marriage contracts we have read.


Emin's Moral Fables (1764) (389-391):   All Groups

Based upon these fables, and assuming that they do represent in some way the "moral universe" of popular culture (see p. 388), how would you describe some basic moral principles of 18th century Russian popular culture?

Russia to 1917 Syllabus