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Lecture 4. The state and law in russia state in the period of formation of absolutism (XVII – beginning of XX centuries)

(2 HRS).

End of XVII – XVIIIth centuries in the history of Russia state marked by the emergence, legalization and the actual establishment of the absolute monarchy. Absolute monarchy in Russia was deposed only in 1917 in a result of the February Revolution.

Its development can be divided into five stages:

I - an absolute monarchy of the second half of XVII century with the Boyar Council and the Boyar aristocracy

II - the bureaucratic-aristocratic monarchy of the XVIII century with elements of enlightened absolutism,

III - absolute monarchy in the first half of XIX century until the reforms of 1861

IV – from 1861 to 1904 – Starting of transformation absolutism into a bourgeois monarchy,

V - from 1905 to 1917 - when absolutism had made “another step towards the bourgeois monarchy”.

1. Prerequisites of formation and legalization of absolutism

Economic development in the late XVII beginning of the XVIII century was characterized by progress in the field of agriculture, growth of commodity production, development of manufacturing large-scale, nationwide market consolidation and expansion of foreign trade. This led to the emergence of bourgeois relations, had intensified the class struggle, strained the conflict between the boyars and nobility, between the feudal lords and the posadsky population, between Russian and foreign merchants.

Political conditions to establish absolutism was the need to fight for access to the sea, as only a strong central authority could conduct costly war.

Features of absolutism in Russia were (in contrast to European countries) the weakness of the emerging bourgeoisie and the lack of struggle between the nobility and the bourgeoisie, on the one hand, and the worsening of class struggle of peasants and landlords who demanded a consolidation of the ruling class – on the other hand.

The establishment of absolutism in Russia noted by the following events:

In the second half of XVII century the “Assembly of the land” (Zemsky Sobor) ceased to be convened, which greatly limited the power of the monarch.

Prikaznaya system was strengthened and it directly subordinated to the Tsar.

The regular army was created and the monarch had become less dependent on the noble army.

 Tsar got the financial independent and had the opportunity to establish and maintain a huge state apparatus.

 Decreased importance of the Boyar Council (Duma) (in 1688 there were 68 members from the nobility, and 28 - from the boyars). “The Secret” or “privay” Council (blizhniaia Duma) had taken the place of Boyar Council. In 1711, the functions of the Council had completely switched to the “Privay Chancellary”. The Chancellary Council office consisted of 8-14 people and was called “Konziliey”. In February 1711 with the establishment of the Senate, Privay Council had ceased to exist as the final organ which was limited the power of the monarch.

 In this period took place an intense process of subordination of the church to the state. October 20, 1721 after the victory in the Northern War the Senate and the Holy Synod was given to Peter I the title “Father of the Native land, the Emperor of all Russia”, which also played a role in strengthening the power of the monarch.

 At the beginning of the XVIII century absolutism received the legislative confirmation. In the interpretation of article 20th of Military statute 1716: “... yego velichestvo yest’ samovlastnyi Monarh nikomu na svete o svoih delah otvetu dat’ ne dolzhen; no silu i vlast’ imyeet svoi Gosudarstva i zemli, yako Hristianskii gosudar’ po svoyei vole i blagomneniyu upravlyat’”.

Thus, in Russia at the end of XVII - beginning of XVIIIth century absolutism had formed as the state form of the dictatorship of the feudal class. By the class nature he expressed primarily the interests of the nobility and the emerging merchant class. And for the peasantry and urban lowers it had meant rising the exploitation.

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