The Making of Russian Absolutism, 1613-1801

The Making of Russian Absolutism, 1613-1801

The Making of Russian Absolutism, 1613-1801

The Making of Russian Absolutism, 1613-1801


Revised and expanded, the second edition of this fascinating study surveys the first two centuries of Romanov rule from the foundation of the dynasty by Michael Romanov in 1613 to the accession of Alexander I in 1801.

The central theme of the book is the growth of absolutism in Russia throughout these years, and it traces in detail how the Russian variety of what was a contemporary European phenomenon came fully into being.


The principal purpose of this book is to trace the development of the Russian variety of a fairly common European phenomenon, absolutism. It will not therefore consist simply of the story of the Romanovs and their achievements and failures, although some of them, notably Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, will occupy a large place in it because of their roles in the making of this state system. Because of the basic concept, there will also be more concentration on political and social aspects than on economic and cultural. For the same reason, there will be emphasis on Russia in its international setting. a minor theme accompanying the structural metaphor will be the vicissitudes in the history of the Moscow Kremlin.

In most chapters, I have made at least a little use of my own primary researches, but most of the work is a synthesis of the reading and talking, listening and thinking about the subject that I have managed to achieve during the course of twenty years involvement in it. I have tried to acknowledge my most important debts, as well as to give some indications of further reading, in the Notes and Select Bibliography. in addition, I have benefited from the help and advice given in many libraries, especially those at the University of Aberdeen, whose predecessors were already accumulating many of the books that I have been able to consult during the period under consideration.

Unless otherwise stated or implied, dates are given in the Old Style, that is ten days behind New Style in the seventeenth, eleven days in the eighteenth century. the transliteration system used for the most part is modified Library of Congress. the major departures from it are the omission of the diaresis on ë, elimination of all references to hard and soft signs, rendering of final -ii by -y and adoption of aberrant common forms or usages.

The dedication is to my colleagues in the Study Group on Eighteenth- Century Russia; I hope that this will not restrain their criticisms, and that neither they nor others will be inhibited from pointing out . . .

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