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The First Years of Peter's I Reign
Azov Campaigns and "The Great Embassy"
Reforms in Russian Economics in the first quarter of XVIII.
Financial Policy
Reorganization of State Government
The Church and Abolition of Patriarchate.
Creation of the Regular Army and Navy
The Strelets' Rising of 1898
The Astrakhan Revolt. Uprising under K.Bulavin's Leadership
Foreign Policy. The Northern War.
Culture in the Epoch of Peter The Great
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Reorganization of State Government

Strengthening of absolutists monarchy required fundamental reorganization and extreme centralization of the system of government, its local, central organs and organs of the highest level.

In 1699 Boyars' Council was changed by Close Office, since 1708 it was called 'Councilia of Ministers'. It became a predecessor of Governing Senate, which was a higher government establishment with judicial, administrative, and sometimes legislative prerogatives. It was founded in 1711 and consisted of nine Senators appointed by Peter himself. Three of them were representatives of the aristocracy, other three - former members of Boyar Council and last three - nobles.

Senate Office with the ober-secretary as the Head was responsible for the record keeping. At first the functions of Senate were broad and different. The duties of Local and Rank Departments were transmitted to Senate, it was in charge of the income and the expenditure of the country and of the appearance of the noble at public service. It was also an organ of inspectorate for the complicated bureaucratic system. To carry out this function, there were posts of fiscals (provincial and city) established in the center and in the regions of the country, who reported about offences against the low, bribery, embezzlement of public funds and the other similar actions, causing damage to the country.

Execution Department (a special judicial department) consisted of four judges and two senators. Though Senate was the main controlling organ, its activity were also under control. The new regulation from 1722 about Senate assigned its status of The Empire Higher State Establishment. Peter used Senate to rule the country. But it was engaged with too much routine everyday work. So it was time for fundamental change in the system of central government organs.

Instead of complicated and slow apparatus of Departments (more than 50) and Offices with their vague functions and parallelism at work, the project of establishing Central Departments with well-defined duties was worked out. The Reform of 1718-1720 annulled Departments and Offices and introduced Collegiums. Unlike Departments, in the new organs decisions were made collectively. Eleven Collegiums with strictly defined functions were introduced. The most important of them were Collegiums of Foreign and Military (the Army and The Fleet separately) Affairs.

Collegiums were not in charge of every sphere of government. Different special Departments were responsible for palace affairs, building, medicine etc. During Peter epoch politics investigations were carried out by Preobrazhensky Department (Secret Office - since 1718) under the leadership of Prince F. U. Romodanovsky. At first each Collegium was regulated by its own standing orders, but in 1720 'General Regulations' (consisting of 56 chapters) were published and it defined their general organization and the order of activity.

According to this document an office of each Collegium consisted of president, vice-president, four-five advisers and four assessors, and detailed regulated staff of officials. Subsequent development of officialdom found its place in Peer's 'table of Ranks', 1722. the new law devided public service into civil, military and court service. Fourteen ranks of officials were defined. Everyone who had obtained eighth rank became a hereditary noble. Offices from fourteenth to ninth brought nobility, but only personal.

The new system of extreme bureaucratization of the country changed fundamentally the nobility, having included in to it those from the other social groups. During Peter's reign hundreds of thousands of serfs were given from government and court to personal possession. As for the attracting the nobles to public service, the Decree from March 23, 1714 about primogeniture helped considerably.

Along with strengthening of the central management apparatus the Reform of the local establishments was carried out. In 1708-1715 the system of province government was introduced. Originally the country was divided into eight provinces: Moscow, Ingermanland (Petersburg - later), Smolensk, Kiev, Azov, Kazan, Archangelsk and The Siberia Provinces. Later Voronezh, Riga, Nizhny Novgorod, an Astrakhan Provinces were added to them. Petersburg and Azov were governed by general-governors - Menshikov and Apraksin. The others were ruled by governers, who had the full administrative, police and judicial power. To help the governors, there were officials who were engaged with certain spheres, such as judicial (landrichter), military (ober-commandant), money and food. Administrative units (uyezds) were now governed by commandants, nut voevods. Since 1713 a governor had a council consisting of eight-twelve landrats, elected by the nobles, but next year landrats became assigned officials, who governed new administrative-territorial units.

In 1719 Peter returned to the problem of local administration. According to the new Decree, the country was divided into 50 provinces with a voyevoda in authority. Bigger Provinces remained, but governers were engaged with military and judicial affaires. As for the territorial matter, a governor ruled only a province of the chief town. Provinces in its turn were divided into districts, which were ruled by land captains. Except all these, judicial organs were added to the complicated system of local establishment. In 1719 lower (provincial and town) and higher courts were introduced. Governors were in charge of higher courts. However, by 1722 lower courts were annulled, and higher courts had existed only till 1727. So the attempt of separation of court from administration failed.

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