W4343: Imperial Russia, 1682-1918

Important Names, Dates, Russian Terms

For the alleviation of puzzlement and as informal aid to exam review...

7th-8th Centuries Settlement of Slavs in East Europe
800 Charlemagne crowned first Holy Roman Emperor
863-885 Mission of St. Cyril and St. Methodius
862 The Varangian (Viking) Rurik becomes ruler of Novgorod
882 Oleg becomes ruler of Kiev
860-1043 Russian raids on Constantinople
988 Prince Vladimir baptizes Rus'
1066 Battle of Hastings
1097 The First Crusade Begins
11th-12th Centuries Kievan Rus' disintegrates into many parts
1147 Founding of Moscow
1185 Crusade of Prince Igor against the Kumans, later immortalized in "The Lay of Igor's Campaign"
1206 Genghis Khan assumes command of the Mongols
1237-1241 Invasion and conquest of Rus' by Batu Khan (grandson of Genghis)
1240 Alexander Nevsky's victory of the Swedes on the Neva River
c. 1243 Formation of the Golden Horde, of which northeastern Russia and Novgorod become tributaries
1252 Emergence of Moscow as an independent hereditary principality
1318 Prince Yury of Moscow acquires the Charter of the Grand Prince from the Mongols
1325-1340 Ivan I (Kalita, or "Moneybags"), prince of Moscow. Moscow begins rapid growth
1360s-70s Dynastic crises in Golden Horde, collapse of Mongol power in Iran and China
1380 Dmitri Donskoi defeats Mongols at Kulikovo
1382 Moscow sacked by Mongols
1395 Defeat of the Golden Horde by Tamerlane
1408 Principality of Moscow devasted by Golden Horde
1439 Council of Florence attempts to reunite eastern and western churches. Russian hierarchy rejects attempt.
1448  Church of Moscow declared autocephalous
c. 1450 Golden Horde disintegrates; formation of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Crimean principalities (khanates)
1453 Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople
1463-68 First limitations opon freedom of peasant movement
1463-1514 Moscow annexes: Yaroslavl', Perm, Rostov, Novgorod, Tver, Vyatka, Pskov, Smolensk
1480 Ivan III terminates the "Mongol Yoke"
1484, 1489 Massacres in Novgorod and deportation of its leading citizens to inland Russia. Annexation of Pskov in 1510 also followed by mass deportations.
1533-84 Rule of Ivan IV, the Terrible
1547 Ivan assumes the title, "Tsar." Marriage and coronation of Ivan IV. Fire of Moscow.
1549 First meeting of the Semskii sobor (Landed Assembly)
1550s First prikazy formed and reforms of local administration. Moscow constructs chain of stockades along the southern border and Russian colonization of the steppe begins
1552 Capture and annexation of Khanate of Kazan
1556 Conquest of Astrakhan
1564 First book printed in Moscow by Ivan Fedorov
1565-1584 Ivan IV's reign of terror
1571-72 Crimean Tatars raid and burn Moscow
1577 Establishment of commercial ties with Holland
1589 Formation of the office of patriarch in Moscow. Metropolitan is raised to rank of patriarch.
1596 Creation of Uniate Church in Poland-Lithuania
1598 End of the Riurik dynasty. End if the dynasty of Ivan Kalita. Coronation of Boris Godunov
1601-04 Years of famine
1605 Death of Boris Godunov and beginning of period of unrest
1605-1613 "Time of Troubles": Russia threatened with Polish and Swedish conquest. Ends with the accesstion of the Romanov dynasty. (Election of Michael Romanov by Semskii sobor in 1613)
1649 Zemskii sobor issues Sobornoye Ulozhenie (Code of Laws)
1652-58 Nikon as patriarch institutes his reforms
1653 Last full meeting of Zemskii sobor
1654 Ukrainian Cossacks swear allegience to the tsar of Moscow; Church Council adopts Nikon's reforms thereby causing a schism
1654-67 Russo-Polish war over Ukraine
1666 Establishment of postal service in Russia; Church Council deposes Patriarch Nikon. Synod condemns Nikon, but retains his reforms; beginning of schism (raskol).
1667 Poland cedes Kiev and Smolensk to Russia in the Peace of Andrusovo
1670-71 Revolt of Stenka Razin
1676-81 War with the Ottoman Empire and in the Crimea
1682 Death of Fedor III. After strel'tsy attack on the Kremlin Ivan V and Peter I are established as co-tsars. Beginning of hte regency of Sophia. Execution of Archpriest Avvakim. Mestnichestvo abolished.
1696 Death of Ivan V. Capture of Azov, after an unsuccessful attack in the previous year. Building of a naval squadron begins there.
1697-98 "Great Embassy" to western Europe. Peter visits the Netherlands, England, and Austria, but fails to secure help against the Ottoman Empire.
1698 Strel'tsy revolt breaks out and is savagely suppressed.
1700 Peace is made with the Ottoman Empire. Outbreak of war with Sweden, and great Russian defeat at Narva. Patriarch Adrian dies, but no successor is appointed; replaced by acting head of church. Abolition of patriarchate
1703 Peter founds St. Petersburg, foundations of new city laid. Vedomosti, Russia's first newspaper, published.
1705 Systematic conscription for the armed forces established, recruitment obligation instituted
1707 Great advance against Russia of Sweden's Charles XII begins. Outbreak of Cossack rising in the Don area, which lasts into the following year. St. Petersburg replaces Moscow as capital of Russia.
1708 Effort at reform of local administration by the creation of the gubernii and their subdivisions (followed by further changes, notably in 1715). The Swedes are defeated at the battle of Lesnaya but are joined by Cossack hetman Mazepa.
1709 Decisive Russian victory over Sweden at Poltava, followed by rapid rise in Russia's prestige and internatinoal standing. Construction of St. Petersburg begins.
1710 Russians take Livonia and Estonia
1711 Outbreak of war with the Ottoman Empire and Russian defeat on the Prut. Creation of the senate. Peter abolishes most trading monopolies. Boyar Duma replaced by the senate.
1713 Peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire
1714 Decree forbids subdivision of estates among the heirs when the holder dies. Edict requiring landowners to bequeath estates intact to a single heir. Kormleniya abolished and civil servants placed on a salary
1717 Peter's second journey to western Europe. He visits the Netherlands and Paris
1718 Creation of the administrative colleges starts. Unsuccessful peace negotiations with Sweden begin. Beginning of first "soul" census. Colleges replace prikazy.
1721 War with Sweden is ended by the treaty of Nystad. Peter assumes the title of emperor
1722 Table of Ranks promulgated. War with Perisa begins. Peter assumes the right to nominate his own successor. Succession law abolished: emperors free to choose successors.
1724 Catherine, Peter's second wife (married privately in 1707), is crowned as empress. "Soul" tax introduced. First comprehensive protective tariff.
1725 Death of Peter and accession of Catherine. Establishment of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.
1730 Constitutional crisis; unsuccessful attempt by Supreme Privy Council to impose "Conditions" on Empress Anna. Inheritance laws of 1714 repealed.
1736 Compulsory state service limited to 25 years and may begin at age 20; one son of landlord may remain home. "Possessional" serfs attached in perpetuity to factories and mines.
1755 University of Moscow founded.
1762 "Manifesto of Dvoryanstvo Liberty" exempting dvoryanye (gentry) from compulsory state service. Church and monastic properties sequestered; law goes into effest in 1764. Most commercial and manufacturing monopolies (regalia) abolished. Law of 1721 allowing merchants to buy villages revoked.
1762 Catherine II, the Great, gains throne by coup d'etat; her husband, Peter II, is murdered.
1767 Legislative Commission convoked to draft new code of laws.
1772 First Partition of Poland
1773-75 Peasant and Cossack uprising under Yemelian Pugachev
1775 Provincial reform. All manufacturing activity open to all estates
1785 Charter of the Nobility and Charter of the Cities (April)
1787-91 War with the Ottoman Empire
1790 Publication of Radishchev's Journey, followed by his arrest.
1793 Second Partition of Poland
1795 Third Partition of Poland
1802 Reorganization of senate. Establishment of Ministries.
1804 Kharkov and Kazan universities founded. Statute on Jews
1807 Treaty of Tilset with Napoleon
1809 Abortive attempt to introduce civil service examinations. Conquest of Finland
1812 French invade Russia and take Moscow
1814 Paris taken and Tsar Alexander I enters in triumph
1815 Holy Alliance and Quadruple Alliance
1825 Decembrist Revolt
1826 Execution of conspirators; organization of political police (Third Section of Imperial Chancery). Censorship code
1830-31 Suppression of Polish revolt. Polish constitution abrogated
1832 Code of Laws issued
1834 Alexander Herzen banished to Vyatka. New radical intelligentsia from now on in conflict with censors and police.
1836 Publication of Chaadaev's First Philosophical Letter. Chaadaev declared insane by Nicholas I for his critique of Russian backwardness.
1845 Hereditary gentry restricted to top five ranks. Revised version of Criminal Code.
1848 Revolution in France, Austia, Italy and Germany. Chartist Petition in England. Publication of Marx's Communist Manifesto
1851 Opening of St. Petersburg-Moscow Railway
1853-56 Crimean War
1861 Emancipation of serfs. Formation of first revolutionary groups.
1862 Bismarck becomes chencellor of Prussia. Start of Russian railway boom
1863 Poland rebels. Leo Tolstoy begins War and Peace
1863-64 Reforms of lae, education, and local government (zemstva)
1864-68 Conquest of Central Asia
1867 Sale of Alaska to the United States
1873-74 First "Going to the People" movement
1877-78 Russo-Turkish war. Mass trials of radicals and revolutionaries
1878-81 Development of terrorist activity. Dynamiting of Winter Palace; wrecking of imperial trains
1881 Alexander II assassinated
1881 Reaction. Institution of Emergency Powers. Ascendancy of Pobedonostsev. Major edict concerning "Temporary Laws."
1883 Law requiring peasants to buy out their land allotment
1887 Execution of Lenin's brother for participating in attempt on Alexander III. Soul tax abolished.
1890 Famine
1891 Start of Trans-Siberian Railway
1892-1903 Sergei Witte revolutionizes industry, commerce, and transport
1898 Foundation of Marxist Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party
1902 Foundation of Socialist Revolutionary Party. Assassination of D. S. Sipyagin (minister of interior)
1903 Lenin splits Social-Democratic party into Bolshevik and Menshevik wings. Kishinev pogrom
1904-05 Russo-Japanese war
1905 Bloody Sunday (Jan. 9) Desturction of Russian fleet at Tsushima by Japanese (May). Assassination of Grand Duke Sergei. Abortive revolution (general strike; establishment of Soviets of Worker's Deputies; violent repression. Concession of representative assembly, or state duma, Oct. 17). Manifesto promising civil liberties and representative institutions.
1906-1911 The Stolypin era. Successive dumas convened and prorogued. Revolutionary agricultural reforms. Industrial progress. Rasputin gains ascendancy over Tsaritsa and Tsar. 
1907 Anglo-Russian entente. Redemption payments and arrears canceled.
1908 Austria annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina
1914-1917 War with Germany and Austria
1916 Rasputin murdered (Dec)
1917 Nicholas I abdicates (Feb). Outbreak of revolution. Bolshevik seizure of power (Oct). Provisional government formed but duma takes over.
1918 Murder of former tsar and his family (July)

(adapted from John Paxton, Companion to Russian History, NY: Facts on File, 1983.)


House of Rurik - Princes of Moscow



Daniel (son of Alexander I of Vladimir; prince of Moscow, 1263 or later)


Yurii (son)


Ivan I, Kalita ("moneybags") (brother)


Simeon the Proud (son)


Ivan II, the Gentle (brother)

Grand Princes of Moscow-Vladimir



Dimitri Donskoi (son)


Basil I (son)
also, Vassily


Basil II, the Blind (son)
also, Vassily


Ivan III, the Great (son)


Ivan the Younger (son; co-regent)


Basil III (brother; co-regent 1502)
also, Vassily

Tsars of Russia



Ivan IV, the Terrible (son; crowned tsar 1547)


Theodore I (son)
also, Fyodor, Fe(o)dor

House of Godunov



Boris Godunov


Theodore II (son)
also, Fyodor, Fe(o)dor


Dimitri (pretended son of Ivan IV)

House of Shuiskii



Basil IV Shuiskii (deposed, died 1612; interregnum 1610-13)

House of Romanov



Michael Romanov
also Mikhail


Alexis (son)
also, Alexei Mikhailovich


Theodore III (son)
also, Fyodor or Fe(o)dor


Ivan V (brother)


Peter I, the Great (brother, emperor 1721)


Catherine I (widow)
born Martha


Peter II (grandson of Peter I)


Anne (daughter of Ivan V)


Ivan VI (maternal grandson of Catherine, sister of Anne; deposed, died 1764)


Elizabeth (daughter of Catherine I and Peter I)

House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov



Peter III (son of Anne, sister of Elizabeth, and Charles Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp; deposed, died 1762)


Catherine II, the Great (widow)
born Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst


Paul I (son)


Alexander I (son)


Nicholas I (brother)


Alexander II (son)


Alexander III (son)


Nicholas II (son; deposed, died 1918; provisional government, then Soviet rule)

from The Wordsworth Handbook of Kings & Queens, 1989.
See also Appendix I, p. 629,  in Riasanovsky for the same info in family-tree format.


Boris Morozov - tutor of Tsar Alexei and important boiar. His corrupt practices made him extremely unpopular and were the cause of violent riots in Moscow in 1648.
Patriarch Philaret - a.k.a. Fedor Nikitich Romanov, father of Michael Romanov, first Romanov tsar. Compelled to take monastic vows by Boris Godunov, he was released by the first False Dmitri and made metropolitan of Rostov in 1606. Arrested and sent to Poland in 1611. Returned to Moscow when his son Michael was elected tsar and was enthroned at patriarch in 1619. From that time on he ruled Russia jointly with Tsar Michael.
Patriarch Nikon - His reforms created a schism in the Orthodox Church and alienated a section of the clergy and of laymen (the Old Believers). The reforms included the standardization of the ritual and the introduction of a new prayer book (1654). Nikon aroused powerful opposition and was condemned by a church council in 1666-7, deposed and confined to a monastery. His reforms remained in place, however.
Semyon Polotskii - One of tsar Alexei Mikhailovich's tutors, and a monk, preacher, playwright and poet. Known mainly for the metrical innovations of his verse, which was taken from Polish models. He had studied in Poland and brought to Russia the influence of Polish and Classical arts and literature.
Boris Golitsyn - Tutor of Peter the Great, also helped him come to power and was in charge of the administration in lower Volga region. Alcoholic, and rather despotic.
Basil (or Vasily) Golitsyn - Statesman in charge of foreign affairs under the regent Sofiia (also her lover, and real ruler during her regency). Assited in the reorganization of military service and abolition of mestnichestvo.
Alexei Petrovich Romanov - Son of Peter the Great, removed from the succession in favor of Peter's second wife, Catherine, because Alexei "refused to serve the state." Later, Peter was behind Alexei's murder.
Demidov - Urals manufacturer under Peter the Great. Fabulously wealthy, and famous for his cruel treatment of workers.
Ivan Mazepa - Ukrainian Hetman from 1687. Conspired with the Polish and Swedish kings to overthrow Peter, and supported Charles XII's invasion of Ukraine. Defeated at the battle of Poltava in 1709.
Feofan Prokopovich - Ukrainian theologian and archibishop. Summoned to Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great in 1716 to assist in both ecclesiastical and secular reforms. See the Ecclesiastical Regulations in Cracraft.
Alexander Menshikov - Close friend to Peter the Great. Rose from obscure origins to become extremely wealthy statesman and field marshal, and later ruled Russia during the reign of Catherine I and the minority of Peter II. Eventually banished to Siberia due to court intrigue.
Charles XII - Ruled Sweden 1697 to 1718, led the Swedish Army during the Great Northern War with Russia, beginning with a major Russian defeat at Narva in 1700, and ending with the Russian victory at Poltava in 1709.
Sofiia Alekseevna - Regent of Russia from 1682 to 1689, during the minority of Peter and Ivan V. Daughter of Alexei Mikhailovich and well educated by SemŽn Polotsk. Her lover, Vasily Golitsyn, mostly ruled for her during her regency.
Anna Ioannovna (sometimes spelled Ivanovna) - Daughter of Ivan V (Peter the Great's sickly co-tsar, and thus niece to Peter). She married the duke of Courland in 1710, and he died soon thereafter. She was elected empress by the Supreme Privy Council on the condition that she accept a number of provisions ("points," punkty ) curtailing her powers. She accepted, but upon her arrival in Moscow -- where she found support from the guards regiments and the lesser nobility, who were suspicious of the powerful old families represented on the Supreme Privy Council -- she violated the agreement and took total power into her own hands. She then proceeded to devote herself to luxury while letting her German advisors run the state.
Dolgorukii family - Very old, very wealthy, very powerful noble family. Prince Vasily was on the Supreme Privy Council that attempted to impose conditions on Anna Ioannovna, and a Princess Dolgorukaia was engaged to marry Peter II, but he died of smallpox in 1729, forcing the "crisis" of 1730.
Vasily Tatishchev - Historian, administrator and geographer. Advisor to Peter the great and supporter of Anna Ioannovna during the 1730 crisis.
Ernst Johann Biron (Buhren) - German favorite of Anna Ioannovna. Her lover from 1727, made a grand chamberlain and count. Extremely unpopular owing to his vindictive and corrupt character. Regent for three weeks after Anna's death, he was deposed and banished to Siberia. Allowed to return under Peter III.
Count Bartolommeo Rastrelli - Court architect under Empress Elizabeth. Built several Baroque palaces for the Romanovs (the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Peterhof, and the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo) as well as the Smolny convent.
Alexander Sumorokov - Playwright, journalist, literary critic, and man of letters. In 1756 he was director of the first permanent theater in Russia. His style mimics French neoclassical literature.
Denis Fonvizin - First Russian playwright, noted for his comedies, many of which satirized the Gallomania of Russian elite society.
Mikhail Lomonosov - Poet and scientist, sometimes called the father of modern Russian literature. As an assistant professor at the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, he did research in the principles of matter and partially anticipated the atomic theory of the structure of matter. He established the first chemical laboratory in Russia and wrote the first Russian grammar. He also wrote a history of Russia and altered the character of Russian prosody by adopting tonic versification in his poetry. He has long been venerated in Russia as a symbol of Russian creative genuis.
(Y)Emelian Pugachëv - Cossack leader of a revolt during Catherine II's reign. Declaring himself Emperor Peter III in 1773, he issued a manifesto promising to free the serfs. Pugachev won widespread support in the Volga area and in the Urals, but the revolt was eventually crushed and he was executed. Hundreds of estates were looted and burned during the revolt, and the landlords with their families often suffered violents at the hands of the peasant. The specter of this revolt hung for a long time over the minds of the provincial gentry, making the prospect of a peasant emancipation almost impossible.
Count Nikita Panin - Statesman and diplomatic advisor to Catherine the Great. Appointed to supervise the Grand Duke Paul's education in 1760 and supported Catherine's coup in 1762. Later led a circle of intellectuals in support of Catherine's Nakaz, or "Instruction."
Nikolas Novikov - Writer and publisher, seminal figure in the early printing industry in Russia. He edited and published four periodicals, including "The Drone," which satirized the idleness of the gentry and engaged in a running debate with Catherine's own journal on issues of the day, until Catherine became displeased with his views and began to shut down his journals, one after the other. He took over the Moscow University Press in 1778, but it was closed by Catherine in 1791 and he was later imprisoned. He was released upon the accession of Paul I.
Alexander Radishchev - His Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow exposes the injustices of serfdom and earned him the death sentence. This was commuted to 10 years' exile in Siberia, where he continued his literary activity. Following the death of Catherine the Great, Radishchev was permitted to return and in 1801 served on the commission for the codification of laws. He committed suicide in 1802, despairing that he was unable to effect any real change in the lot of the serfs.
Nikolai Novosil'tsev -
Viktor Kochubei -
Count Pavel Stroganov -
Prince Adam Czartoryski -
Michael Speransky -
N. M. Karamzin -
Professor Pavlov -
Schelling -
Aleksei Arakcheev -
Alexander Golitsyn -

(see also John Paxton, Companion to Russian History, NY: Facts on File, 1983.)

  (If you're viewing this in frames and have trouble with the table, try right-clicking, then open the frame in a new window, and maximize that window. If all else fails, see the simplified hierarchy below.)

Civil Hierarchy

Church Hierarchy

Civil Urban Hierarchy

The Tsar and his Family


Upper Service Class

  • Boyars/Boiars         (Members
  • Okolnichie              of the 
  • Dumnye dvoryane   Boyar
  • Dumnye d'yaki       Council)


  • Stol'niki
  • Stryapchie
  • D'yaki


  • Moscow dvoryane
  • Zhil'tsy


Middle Service Class

  • Dvoryane (Gentry)
  • Deti boyarskie


Lower Service Class

  • Musketeers (strel'tsy)
  • Cossacks
  • Gunners (pushkari)
  • Riflemen (zatinshchiki)
  • Soldiers



  • Landed peasants (krest'yane)
  • Landless peasants (bobyli)



  • Contract bondmen (kabal'nye kholopi)
  • Hereditary bondmen (close to slaves; various types)

- Patriarch

- Metropolitans

- Archbishops

- Bishops

- Monastery heads - archimandrites (in important monasteries, or overseeing several)

- Monastery fathers superior

- Archdeacons

- Monastery cellarers

- Monastery treasurers

- Cathedral elders

- Elders

- Monks

- Priests

- Deacons

- Servants

- Gosti (merchants of the first guild)

- Gostinaya sotnya (merchants of the second guild)

- Sukonnaya sotnya (merchants of the third guild)

- Townsmen (posadskie liudi)

- Dependents (zakladchiki)

(adapted from Richard Hellie. Muscovite Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967)

Or, in incredibly simplified terms:

- Tsar and family
- Boyars (old princely families) and other high nobility (the Patriarch and metropolitans fit in somewhere around here in status)
- Lesser nobility, landed gentry (many very poor, constituting middle service class) (also, Monastery officials and monks)
- Soldiers, merchants, most clergymen, landed peasants
- Serfs, or peasants bound to land and lord (by 1649, very fine line between serfs and slaves)

(This hierarchy remains essentially the same throughout the Imperial period, except that the term 'boyar' or 'boiar' is no longer in use after Peter the Great abolishes the Boyar Council and institutes the Table of Ranks.)


Some terms you will encounter frequently in lecture and readings:

chernozëm - lit. "black soil" - the region with the most productive soil for agriculture (mostly Ukraine)
zemskii sobor - "Assembly of the Land" - an occasional gathering of boyars, clergy, gentry, and sometimes burghers and peasants, called by Muscovite tsars to consider matters of special importance. Abandoned by Peter the Great.
vlast' - "power" - has very strong, often forbidding, connotations in Russian
prikazy - "chancelleries" - departments of the Muscovite government, headed by a boyar or okolnich. There were many.
boiars - members of the medieval Russian aristocracy in the 16th and 17th centuries, as distinguished from the service nobles, "pomeshchiki." Boiars received their titles from the tsars, headed important offices, and participated in the Boiar duma, an advisory council.
pomestiia - estates held on service tenure. In the early 18th century and later, the term is used more generally to describe estates owned by nobles (largely replacing the term votchina, meaning inherited, privately owned land).
strel'tsy - "musketeers" - a military corps established by Ivan the Terrible and holding special privileges. Abolished by Peter the Great after an uprising.
duma - council, or later parliament. There is a "State Duma" in the Russian government today, composed of an upper and lower house.
Rossiia - term adopted after the 17th-century annexations of Ukraine ("Little Rus'") and Belorussia ("White Russia") to "Great Russia". The adjective is "rossiskii," generally connoting empire, or "all the Russias," including many ethnicities beyond that connected with the Muscovite state, as opposed to "russkii" meaning ethnic Russianness or having to do only with Russia proper
Rus' - term for the state / nation originally centered around Kiev, and then around Moscow.
raskol' - "schism" - generally refers to the Great Schism following Patriarch Nikon's reforms in 1666.
raskol'niki - "schismatics" - or Old Believers, followers of the pre-Nikon Church.
mestnichestvo - "system of places" - by which appointment of court officials, ambassadors, and army officials depended upon inherited rank and status. Records of genealogical tables were burned in 1682, thus abolishing mestnichestvo.
dvoryanstvo - "gentry" - a dvoryanin is a gentleman (in terms of class, if not character), dvoryanye, is plural
gubernii - "provinces" - an administrative unit introduced by Peter the Great and abolished by the Soviet government in 1923
kormlenie - "feeding" - a system of local administration prevalent from the 14th through the 16th century, under which local administrators, who were appointed from Moscow, received payments in kind from the local population.
patronymic - see below.
tatar / tartar - Turkic-speaking descendants of the Golden Horde Mongols. Tatars settled along the central section of the Volga, in the Crimean peninsula and other areas in the 15th century. The term "tatar" was often used to refer more widely to all the nomadic tribes of the Asian deserts and steppes. From the fifth to the ninth century, the Tatars were predominantly farmers, but from the 18th century onward, became renowned as traders.
primogeniture - the principle of succession by the eldest male heir. Was the tacit tradition in Russian and other monarchies, but Peter the Great overturned it with his own succession law (the first written law of succession in Russia), allowing the tsar to designate his own successor (see Cracraft)
Preobrazhenskoe - a village near Moscow where Peter the Great spent time with his play regiments as a child. Later one of the senior guards infantry regiments in the Imperial Army was named the Preobrazhensky. The word "preobrazhensk" in Russian means "transfiguration."
Semënov, Semyonnovsky Regiment - Another village of Peter's childhood, from which is derived the name of an élite Guards regiment.
The Bronze Horseman - Famous statue in Petersburg by French sculptor Falconet, commissioned by Catherine the Great. See Pushkin's famous poem of the same name.
Voronezh - Town 300 miles south of Moscow where Peter established a shipbuilding industry during the Azov campaign in 1695.
Azov - River port at the mouth of the Don river, guarding access to the Black Sea. The port was subject to Turkey from 1471, and won briefly by Peter, only to be lost again. It became Russian finally under Catherine the Great in 1774.
Poltava - Ukrainian town on the Vorskiya river, near which the Battle of Poltava took place on July 8, 1709, ending the Great Northern War with Sweden.
Narva - Town situated on the Gulf of Finland in present-day Estonia. Possession was contested between Sweden and Russia - it was the site of a great defeat for Russia in 1700, which spurred Peter onto many military reforms. It was captured by Peter in 1714.
Tula - Town in central European Russia, and site of an arms factory built by Peter in 1712 and always a center of the Russian metallurgical industry. Small arms were being produced in Tula before Peter declared war on Sweden.
Holy Synod - The administrative organ of the Russian Orthodox Church, founded by Peter on the Lutheran model in 1720. The establishment of the Synod placed church affairs firmly under the state, and meant that they were often administered by lay officials.
The Twelve Colleges - Administrative structure established by Peter, meant to replace the characteristically chaotic and corrupt prikazy system with one based on order and reason. The colleges were also corrupt, but they did somewhat rationalize the arrangment of administrative departments within the central government.
Senate - Administrative body composed of officials chosen by virtue of service rather than birth (at least in theory), as opposed to the old boiar duma.
Procurator General - highest (and very powerful) administrative office, established by Peter the Great.
shliaketstvo (based on the Polish Szłachta) - Petrine term for gentry, or aristocracy, later replaced by the Russian "dvorianstvo."
Treaty of Nystad / Nyshtadt - Treaty between Russia and Sweden of September 10, 1721 concluding the Great Northern War. Sweden ceded to Russia several Baltic territories, while Russia retained Vyborg but returned the rest of Finland to Sweden. Peter the Great formally assumed the title of emperor (imperator) after the ratification of the treaty. Russia replaces Sweden as the great power in the Baltic.
blagorodnyi(noble) versus podlyi (base) - class distinction with ethical connotations.
terem - Term for the part of a noble Muscovite household where women were sequestered. Peter forced Muscovite noble women to appear in public and to wear (much more revealing) western dress, and generally gave them a much more prominent and positive role in society.
assemblé (the French term, used in Russian) - Social gatherings Peter imposed on the nobility by state decree, in which rank order was not observed and women participated fully. Nobles were to dress and behave with western manners.
ex nihilo - Latin for "out of nothing," often applied by pro-Petrine historians to describe the sweeping quality of Peter's reforms, which created a modern, European Russia "out of nothing," as opposed to historians who believe Peter's reforms either (a) were merely a progression in the series of changes already taking place throughout the 17th century, or (b) represent a break from and denial of a previous Russia whose unique qualities were (tragically) subsumed by the westernization and modernization processes Peter began.
repartitional commune - distribution of land depending on tax-paying ability. I.e., those households (each containing an extended family) who can / must pay more taxes, are given more land. The commune redistributes land accordingly each year.
dvor - lit. "court," "yard," and of course "courtyard." Also refers to a household, as in the peasant household, an extremely important unit in the commune system.
starosta - "elder," an elected office, putting the holder in charge of the commune (with the help of a small group of other villagers, similarly elected) for a term of a few years. A very desirable office, as it put the holder in the way of a lot of bribes.
nakaz - "instruction," the Nakaz was Catherine's "Instruction to the Nobility," a document stating her principles of law and government, according to which a committee was to formulate and codify Russian laws. The committee came to naught, but the Nakaz was published widely at home and abroad (in several languages), and made a big impression on contemporaries. Catherine's views were largely borrowed - sometimes word for word - from Western Enlightenment thinkers like Montesquieu, Baccariat, etc.
zakonnost' - the principle of "legality," from the Russian root "zakon," meaning legislative measure or fundemental law. Russian law had not been codified since the law code of 1649 (and wouldn't be until the reign of Nicholas I), and courts functioned more according to custom, corruption, or whim than according to state law. The principle of zakonnost' put forward by Catherine in her Nakaz and supported by intellectuals like those of the Panin circle was the notion that the "Enlightened monarchy" they envisioned for Russia (as opposed to the "absolute monarchy" of Peter the Great) would rest on an organized, rational code of laws, not so much restraining the monarchy but imposing order and reason on the bureacracy, which in turn was presupposed to be toward the "general good" of the people.
The Unofficial Committee
Free Agriculturist Law
military colonies

(see also John Paxton, Companion to Russian History, NY: Facts on File, 1983, from which many definitions are adapted.)

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Send problems and suggestions to Kate Pickering, [email protected]