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Lecture 2

326 - Week 1 – Lecture 2 - the Sosolvie System .docx

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HIST 326
Katrin Bozeva

Week 1 – Lecture 2 History 326 – Russia from 1905 The Sosolvie System The estate system of Imperial Russia = the Sosolvie system - 18thC = two models of progressiveness existed: 1) theAnglo-Saxon standard of progressiveness with theAmerican Constitution and Declaration of Independence; 2) enlightened despotism (much later term though – known in it’s own time as polizeistat▯well ordered or well governed state ▯ applied to both the Habsburg Empire and Russia ▯thought of the power of monarch as being the broker and mentor of progress since the civic society was not as developed or progressive as other parts of the world) o needed the state to initiate reforms, apply reforms and try to control as much of the society as possible in order to do so, since western institutions weren’t really in place Russia and the Polizeistat = 2 great admirers: Peter the Great and Catherine the Great - what appealed to the two was that the monarch as ruler had the obligation and power concentrated in his hands to decree and take decisions in a fast and expedited way, to work for the benefit of the whole society o not concentrated power for the sake of power, but it was thought that trying to control what was happening made a lot of sense and to try to monitor through different state agencies as much of the movement as possible = this is relevant because if one considers the lifespan of the Sosolvie system and how late this thinking and organisation was gotten rid of  there is a connection between the predisposition of Russian monarchs and rulers to heed the Sosolvie system for a long time since it served their interests - was much more efficient to fulfil obligations to the estate and easier for them to operate Soslovias = estates – obligations, everyday life, political thinking and potential for the generation of new ideas (contact within the whole society of imperial Russia) - first estate = the nobili▯ynot a numerous tier: Russia had proportionally one of the smallest percentages in East Central Europe of aristocratics and people held title▯ monarch was to careful who to whom they would give rank o Poland = 5-6% were titled though not necessarily the money o Russia = 1-1½% of the total population who were the crème de la crème of Imperial Russia  Chose an advisor, ministers and generals from this section as were tutors  These people stuffed the state institutions as late as 1970 o There were great inequalities in wealth amongst these people = the truly rich numbered no more than 3000 or 4000 and were the upper class crust of the Russian aristocracy and enjoyed the benefits of a good life until 1861 (when serfdom was officially abolished  until then, some of the nobility had up to 200,000 serfs whom were the source of their wealth as they paid duties to their lords); the rest of the aristocracy did not have such means at their disposal thus affecting their standard of life  there was huge differences lifestyles with the poorer being very provincial and local with little difference between the peasants and their landlords, whilst the upper crust were fully European-ised  Ability to speak 2 or 3 European languages, visited Europe as young men as a rite of passage  Means there was not much common grounds for behaviour between countryside nobles and those in Moscow and St. Petersburg o When the less rich gentry lost their serfs, they also lost their livelihoods and the means to support themselves  tendency in Russia that the gentry would not switch from the feudal way of exploiting land from serfdom as they could not make the transition to capital ways of producing and dealing with the market  It seems that the most serious cause behind such an unsuccessful transition was the lack of thinking in terms of business orientation as they did not have the abilities to do so or they did not have the stamina to behave more aggressively in the way that a modern man behaves = certain passivity in their ways of doing things • 1907 – 60-70% of land in Russia had been mortgaged as it had slipped from the former lords and gone to the other end of the scale with richer peasants and the Crown gaining the territory  gambling was also an unofficial reason for this transition (Dostoyevsky)  hard to transition to modern ways of doing business was the traditional view that the gentlemen should not be involved in business activities as he had more important things to do than keep and eye on the books, speak to stewards, export grain etc.  Russian aristocracy was never capable of standing together and fighting against the monarchy as one politically powerful estate  the only meaningful attempt to do something against the will of the monarch was an unsuccessful uprising until 1825 • From 1825-1905 there was no indication that these people even felt frustrated or objected to the concentration of power in the hands of rulers and Russian monarchs = they were not frustrated!! o They had a good way of living, satisfaction and dependent on the will of the monarch for everything they had = everything they had accumulated in terms of land, privileges and opportunities in life was owed to the throne and so they were never organised in the way that aristocracy or nobility had organised themselves in France or England during earlier periods and thus were not pushing for any form of national representation o Initiative in 1905 did NOT come from the nobility or gentry  Some were involved in zemstud but these were nobility-cum-professionals after the 1870s and so were not the traditional nobility  End of the Russian aristocracy  exterminated after 1917 during 3 waves of terror  Red Terror began in 1918 as Bolsheviks went to the countryside and identified the nobility • 1917-1940 = successors of the former nobility (‘former people’– people who no longer had an option to exist) were exterminated except from those whom were exterminated • very few nobility family names still exist in Russia due to extermination, immigration and also some changed their names in order to disappear = totally destroyed nd - 2 soslovia = the peasants  most numerous BUT those with no voice: the people whom were working and building the empire (Winter and Summer Palaces, Churches, cathedrals, military campaigns were all built on the backs and by the hands of serfs/the peasantry) o 1840s = novelist Turgenev who wrote a series of sketches in which he brought to life those who were of peasant origin since people did not consider them to exist as they were called the ‘dark people’(dark by character or evil)  assumed to be ignorant and root of multiple vices that the Church attempted to uproot  to outsiders of the particular soslovia, these people were non-existent • why was their fate so terrible?  because serfdom as an institution was kept to very late in time (1861)  the way in which they lived was monstrous as was their ignorance o 84-5% of the Imperial population was classified as peasants, 90% of these did not know how to read as late as the 1880s (92-3% of women especially were i
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