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HISB93H3 Professor Dowler Fall 2009 Lecture Note

Course Code
Wayne Dowler

of 4
NOV 19
Zamskii Sobor
x The rulers of Muscovy wanted to avoid decentralization (that happened to Kievan Rus which
made it vulnerable to disintegration and Mongol conquest)
x The princes had to overcome lack of financial resources and trained personnel to support a
centralized administration
x Muscovite was always expanding (Kazan and Astrakhan, expansion into Siberia, annexation
of Eastern Ukraine)
x This was an extremely territory and finding the manpower to administer it was very difficult
x This problem was faced by other European states too but few of them had the territorial size
as Russia did
x This was necessitated by population growth, innovation in warfare, greater complexity in
society, justice, collecting taxes
x The princes first tried to rule their territories through family members and then more and
more they removed family members because they were always fighting and instead
appointed officials
x At one extreme was the system of Kormlenie (feeding) where a governor was sent out to rule
a district for a certain period of time and to support himself, he could exact tribute from
people he was looking over (they exploited the people)
x At the other extreme, we have the local self-government where townsmen elected their own
governor and tax collectors from people of their town
x The increasing use of boyars in policing and administrating justice on peasants on their lands
x With all the disruption caused by the time of troubles, local government and officials gained
more power
x It was local people from the gentry, the merchants, cossaks and peasants that organized the
war against Poles that drove them out
x The local officials formed the Zemskii Sobor
x After the election of the Romanovs, the Tsar was at the top who was assisted by the boyar
Duma and Tsars continued to draw military commanders and heads of the boyar duma and
the church too was represented in the boyar duma then various secretaries
x Boyar duma oversees the administration of the state through the prikazy
x There were several times when the Zemskii Sobor was called
x The composition of the sobor changed many times
x It was drawn from service gentry, merchants, artisans and sometimes even free peasants
x The roles and jurisdiction of the prikazy was poorly defined (no organization)
x Work was duplicated and important matters was ignored
x 17th century, muscovite government had centralization but no co-ordination
x During the course of the 17th century, the function of the Boyar Duma changed from advisory
to a ceremonial body (no effective, practical powers)
x The boyar duma consisted of men from boyar families who had demonstrated ability in the
field for many years
x Under Michael, boyars enjoyed power
x These boyars were generalists (they knew about government in a broad way)
x As governance became more complex, the specialized prikazy became powerful and needed
x So the government became more and more relied of civil servant specialist then they boyars
x Government began to appoint more and more people to the boyar duma
x Boyar Duma became a place where you appointed someone as a reward
x By the end of the century, the boyar duma had very little administrative significance
x Unlike the boyar duma, the Zemskii Sobor only functioned when the Tsar wanted it
x The sobor chose Michael Romanov as Tsar
x It helped to stabilize country while Michael was young
x A new Zemskii sobor was elected in 1615 and lasted until 1622
x By then, the government was beginning to feel stronger, less dependent of the Zemskii Sobor
x As a result, it stopped and met occasionally (its last meeting was in 1651-1653)
x For the most part, the job of the sobor was to find new ways to raise money for wars and to
approve new forms of taxation
x The elective aspect of the Zemskii Sobor began to disappear after 1652
x Delegates were simply chosen by the local governor
x After 1622, peasants disappeared from membership, Cossacks and lower townsmen too,
leaving the gentry and the merchants as the majority groups
x The sobor complained about government policy
x 1648, it forced change in the government by imposing the Ulozhenie
x Although it occasionally legislated, it never thought of itself as a constraint on the
x As the government became more and more powerful, it reduced its reliance of the sobor and
eventually got rid of it
x the prikazy provided a haphazard form of government
x as long as the task endured, so did the prikaz
x each prikaz was headed by 1-6 officials
x there was a collegial aspect in the prikazy
x these boards were supported by clerks and these could range from small to several hundred
x the big prikazy were divided into desks in order to distribute work
x some attempt to bring order to this
x some prikazy who had similar roles were grouped
x the number of prikazy continued to grow.
x Out of the provinces, the goal of the central government was to extend authority over towns
by using the governor (voevoda) who were appointed by the central government
x Unlike the feeders, the governors were paid a salary
x They were forbidden to feed and forbidden to take bribes
x 1642, the provincial delegates complained that the governors and his office were exploiting
x The old elected officials became fewer but did not go away
x In some places where governors were well established, the elected governors disappeared
x In other places, the elected governors were subordinate to appointed officials
x In the north however, the elected officials remained but they were subject to central
government interference
x In towns, elected officials collected taxes but they were influenced by the governor
x Where there were governors, the judging aspect was done by elected governors
x Elected officials got the bad jobs and stripped of autonomy
x one important consequence of the ulozhenie was to that peasants were administered by their
x peasantry is more and more subject to the will of the landlord
x passing responsibility for the administration of the serfs saved money
x serfs retained the right to petition against landlord abuses
x they sometimes succeeded
x in general, serfs were abandoned to their lords
x as the government moved towards infantry regiments, it became more important to recruit
army members from broader numbers of classes (included peasants)
x the government organized numerous districts into 9 large military districts
x in the provinces, the governors duties were poorly defined and that led to governors using
their own heads to govern
x Russia was hugely undergoverned
x Large parts of the population lived out of government reach
x Lack of personnel and rational organization was the problem
x The weakness of law
x The last codification of the law was in 1550
x Since then, the boyar duma had issued a host of new laws and decrees that contradicted the
law of 1550
x As the size of the country increased, they annexed different legal systems
x This legal muddle inspired the government to undertake a new codification of the law
x As the result was the Ulozhenie
x It went back to the old law code and it went back to byzantine legal practices too
x In order to deal with the Lithuanian states annexed, the tried to incorporate Lithuanian law