In 1702 Catherine I, the daughter of Lithuanian peasant Marta Skavronskaya appeared to be among the captives of Russia, taken in Marienburg. Her marriage with Peter I took her to the top of the power. However, her outlook and business sense were poor and didn't allow her to be the proper successor of Peter the Great. Not capable to act independently, the empress in fact transmitted her duties to several officials.
According with the Decree from February 8, 1726 the new organ of higher power - High Secret Counsel was established. A.D. Menshikov (the initiator of the creation of Counsel), F.M.Apraksin, G.I. Golovkin, D.M. Golitsin, A.I. Osterman and P.A. Tolstoy became the members of Counsel. So, there was only one representative of the old aristocracy - Prince D.M. Golitsin, four members owed their being the nobles to Peter I, and an emigrant from Westphalia A.I. Osterman took a special place among them. Despite the representative complement and wide competence, Counsel wasn't an oligarchic organ, limiting autocracy. It remained bureaucratic, though very influential, establishment inside the system of absolutism.
It was under control of the empress and her personal Cabinet under the leadership of the experienced secretary A.V.Makarov.The policy of High Secret Counsel was characterized by refusing Peter's program of the wide change, which was considered to be too expensive for the country. First of all, most of the local establishments of Peter's time were liquidated; judicial and administrative duties in guberniyas were transmitted to Governors of guberniyas, and in provinces and districts - to voyevodas; some collegiums were abolished, the others were merged, to add to this the stuff was being twice reduced, magistrates were being liquidated, the role of Senate reduced, too.
The system of taxes was changed. Counsel reduced poll-tax by 4 kopeks and called back military commands, which during the reign of Peter I used to be the parallel authority to the local administration with wide range of police functions. But reckoning that gubernya or district's officials would manage to collect taxes and debts didn't proved itself. That's why since 1728 military commands were regularly sent to districts to collect taxes again.
At last, commercial and industrial policy was corrected. The protectionist regulations of 1724 were revised: customs duties on foreign goods were reduced a bit; however, independent foreign trade of Russia in Western Europe remarkably decreased. The Low about estate trade from 1726 allowed the nobles to sell goods produced in their villages without limitations. On the whole the trade and industry, being deprived of financial and administrative support of the government, appeared in a difficult situation after Peter's death.