By John P. LeDonne
This can be the 1st complete exam of the Russian ruling elite and its political associations in the course of an incredible interval of kingdom development, from the emergence of Russia at the level of worldwide politics round 1700 to the consolidation of its place after the victory over Napoleon. rather than concentrating on the good rulers of the period--Peter, Catherine, and Alexander--the paintings examines the the Aristocracy which on my own can make their energy potent. LeDonne not just supplies an entire chronological account of the advance of bureaucratic, army, fiscal, and political associations in Russia in this interval, but additionally skillfully analyzes the ways that neighborhood firms and the ruling type exercised keep an eye on and shared energy with absolutely the monarchs.
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Additional info for Absolutism and Ruling Class: The Formation of the Russian Political Order, 1700-1825
Sergei Solov'ev saw the medieval prince as a political leader extorting booty from the population and sharing it with his retinue (druzhind) in order to keep its allegiance and legitimize his power. Alexander Gradovskii was struck by the insistence on the part of the political apparatus in "old Russia" on "receiving much and giving nothing in return," and it is all too evident that even the massive transformation of Russia has not questioned a hallowed tradition that the purpose of governing is to extract the maximum resources from the population in order to 16 Society sustain the privileged position of the ruling group and the expansion of military power.
Nevertheless, it is easy to detect in various Senate decisions and imperial orders a sense of resignation at the ruling elite's inability to resist pressures from below. At the same time, the civilian apparatus competed with the army for limited resources, especially after the creation of the colleges in 1718 and the establishment of gubernatorial and voevoda chanceries. The demand was consequently great for clerks and secretaries but was dampened by a reluctance to admit not so much individuals from the dependent population as people required to pay the capitation, once its payment became the symbol of social degradation, and exemption from it—for nobles, clergy, and, after 1775, merchants of the first two guilds—one of social respectability.
35 Yet it has such an officer corps of captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, whose social composition had undergone a revolutionary transformation, that fought Napoleon's own officer corps, likewise the product of a revolutionary upheaval, at Smolensk, Borodino, and Maloiaroslavets. 36 The appearance of these new officers promoted from the ranks of simple soldiers struck some contemporaries after the war of 1812. "37 The restrictive legislation of Alexander's reign, which sought to stem the influx of men from the dependent population into the ruling class, merely succeeded in preventing a flood.