The social and economical development of Russia in the first quarter of the XIX century.
Russia in the beginning of the XIX century was the greatest empire in the world, and its territory covered a significant part of Eastern Europe, Northern Eurasia, Alaska and Transcaucasia. The population of the country in 1801 was 37 million people, and by 1825, due to a natural increase and unification of territories, reached almost 53 million. The peasants, who made up more than 90%, were the overwhelming majority of the population. In 1801 in 583 cities and villages of Russia lived 2 million 400 thousand persons of Orthodox Belief (8,4 % of all inhabitants).
The dominating estate of Russia (the nobility) ran to 225 thousand persons, or 0,5 % of the population of the country. At head of the government were about 1000 military and civil officials of the first four classes of "Tables of Ranks". The peasant population of Russia was 98,5 % and was divided into three groups: landowners', state and appanage peasants.
In Russian villages there always was the property inequality, which resulted in social stratification of peasantry: there were well-off population and poor peasants.
Besides noblemen, the clergy and the merchant class were also privileged estates (accordingly 215 and 119 thousand people).
Handicraftsmen and the bourgeoisie, in addition to peasants, were a part of the class paying taxes, who made up to 50 % of inhabitants of the Russian cities.
The military and agricultural estate of Cossacks occupied a particular position in the social structure of the society.
The development of commodity relations influenced the social structure of the society. A rather specific type of Russian businessmen was formed. In the beginning of XIX century neither trading, nor industrial business could not play an independent historical role and act as an influential economic power. The state still controlled economics.
The agriculture remained the main branch of the economy of Russia. Its technological level was rather low, and the growth of the production occurred basically due to the expansion of areas under crop.
To increase their incomes landowners in black earth areas increased the corvee, in the non-chernozem areas - quitrent. 20% of the annual crop of bread was coming to the market. Along with grain crops, one of the major branches of the agriculture was the cattle breeding. In the industrial provinces manufacture of industrial crops (flax, hemp) gradually grew. Potatoes were more and more widespread.
The distinctive feature of the Russian industry in the beginning XIX century was the prevalence of peasant homecraft. The large-scale industry and manufactories
gradually developed and expanded. In 1799 in the country there were 2094 industrial enterprises (without mining factories), here worked 81,8 thousand people, including 48,2 thousand serfs
and 33,6 civilians. In 1825 the number of enterprises was 5261, where worked 210,6 thousand, among them 96,1 thousand serfs and 114,5 thousand civilians.
As a whole the industry in the first quarter of the XIX century was supported by peasants and orientated to execution of military orders of the government, instead of the market production. As a result in the metallurgy industry began the stagnation. If in 1800 Ural plants smelted 10,3 million poods of cast iron and outstripped England according to this parameter (8 million poods), in 1825 were smelted 10 million poods in Russia and 37 million in England.
During a quarter of the century a gradual shift in the social structure of enterprises was seen: grew the number of hired workers, which productivity in 2-4 times was higher than that of serfs. Nobleman's business continued to develop. In 1813-1814 more than 50 % of enterprises with a number of workers up to 15 belonged to noblemen. In the glass industry they owned more than 80 % of all enterprises. The greatest success of the nobility was achieved in the distillation, as far as they had the monopoly in this branch since 1754.
The development of cities in the first two decades of XIX century was very slowly: in 1796 city dwellers were 4,1 % of the population of the country, in 1812 they reached 4,4 %.
A small town with a population less than 10 thousand people was the prevailing type of settlements in that period.
The first quarter of the XIX century was marked by the development of the internal market, which main goods were bread, livestock products, homecraft products, textile. The basic commodity circulation occurred at fairs, which grew in number. In 1817 the first of them, Makarevskaya, was moved to Nizhny Novgorod and was called 'The Nizhny Novgorod fair'. In total in the European part of Russia in 1824 were registered 76 large fairs with volumes of goods more than one million rubles.
In district and provincial cities fine store trade prevailed. There were few shops and they belonged to foreigners basically. Domestic trade in the first quarter of the XIX century had a much greater economic value, than the foreign one. The annual home trade, according to a contemporary, was 900 million rubles, and the foreign one 235 million rubles.
The foreign trade of Russia in this period had the favorable balance: export exceeded import. The basic foreign partners of Russia were England (in 1802-1806 among each 100 merchants who exported goods from St. Petersburg 63 were Englishmen), Germany, France, China. 80-90 % of Russian export consisted of raw material and agricultural goods: bread, flax, hemp, bacon, wood and leather.
Russia's joining to the continental blockade of England in 1807 caused a remarkable recession of its foreign trade turnover in 1808-1812. It adversely affected the economy and the finance of Russia.
The growth of the national economy in many aspects was prevented by the poorly developed system of communication.
The navigable rivers and channels played the basic role. The government undertook expansion of old and construction of new river channels. Foreign market entry of Russia was realized through the Black Sea and Baltic ports.
The budgeted deficit inherited from the former regimes was one of the most important problems of Alexander's reign. In the beginning of the XIX century the sum of the external and internally held public debt of Russia was equal to its four annual budgets and constantly increased. In 1809 Speransky elaborated a financial reform; the government stopped emission of new banknotes, sharply reduced state charge, sold a part of state manors to private persons and introduced new taxes, which touched all layers of the population. These actions gave positive results: in 1812 public revenues increased from 125 up to 300 million rubles. At the same time the accepted measures caused an extreme discontent of the population, especially of the nobility that was compelled to pay the levy on manors. The reform curtailed.
After the war of 1812-1814, which cost to the state a sum more than 900 million rubles, the rate of paper ruble fell to 20 kopecks. By the end of 1825 the market was flooded with banknotes, emitted to cover the growing budgeted deficit. The value of paper banknotes was low, and there was no firm money rate.
The main income of the state came from capitation tax and quitrent and other taxes (on alcohol, most significant, on salt and customs duties). Because of the shortage of home income the government was obliged to make loans of bankers of London, Amsterdam, Paris. Among charge the military ones were the largest, over half of the annual budget.