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Enlightened Despotism and Islam Under Catherine II

  • Alan W. Fisher

Extract

Discussions of Catherine II as an “enlightened despot” usually emphasize her attempts to reform the social and political bases of the Russian Empire and to gain the active support of the nobility and gentry in governmental activity. Catherine denned enlightened government as wellordered government, achieving its policy and programs through bureaucratic and political means rather than with the sheer force that many of her predecessors had used.

The term “Russification” is seldom used with reference to the period of Catherine II, even though it was in her reign that the Cossack Sech was abolished, the special privileges granted by Peter I to the Baltic provinces abrogated, and the first successful assimilation of Russia’s Muslim subjects into the Russian state accomplished.

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1 See my “The Turkic Peoples of the Russian Empire and the Administration of Catherine II” (Russian Institute Certificate Essay, Columbia University, 1964).

2 Polnoe sobranie zakonov rossiiskoi imperii s 1649 g., First Series (St. Petersburg, 1830), XI, No. 8664, 719-20; hereafter cited as PSZ. A recent article by Chantal Lemercier- Quelquejay excellently summarizes the history of Russian Orthodox “missionary” activity among the Volga, Muslims, “Les Missions orthodoxes en pays musulmans de Moyenne- et Basse-Volga, 1552-1865,” Cahiers du monde russe et soviitique , VIII, No. 3 (July-Sept. 1967), 369403 . See also Malov, E. A., O Novokreshchenskoi Kontore (Kazan, 1873), for a sympathetic treatment of the Kazan Office of New Converts.

3 See A., Chuloshnikov, Vosstanie 1755 g v Bashkirii (Orenburg, 1940), and Roger, Portal, “Les Bashkirs et le gouvernement russe au XVIII siècle,” Revue des études slaves , XXII (1946), 82105.

4 PSZ, XVI, No. 12, 126 (Apr. 6, 1764), 704-7. The Russian term inorodtsy, the term officially used for the non-Slavic eastern minorities, does not easily lend itself to English translation. The French term peuples allogenes is exact, while the English “natives” has now a different connotation. Of necessity, but with hesitation, the author has used “natives” when referring to inorodtsy.

5 PSZ, XVII, No. 12, 542 (Jan. 5, 1766), 480.

6 A. V. Florovsky, Sostav zakonodatel'noi kommissii (Odessa, 1915), pp. 141-42, 427-67 (“Zapiski imperatorskago novorossiiskago universiteta,” Vol. X).

7 Reddaway, W. F., Documents of Catherine the Great (Cambridge, 1931), p. 289.

8 “Istoricheskie svedeniia o Ekaterininskoi Kommissii dlia sochineniia proekta Novago Ulozheniia,” Sbornik Imperatorskago Russkago Istoricheskago Obshchestva (St. Petersburg, 1867-1916), XXXII, 62, 427-28; hereafter cited as SIRIO.

9 SIRIO, CXV, 380; LXVIII, 20.

10 SIRIO, XXXII, 116, 391, 541-42; CXV, 101, 110, 400.

11 SIRIO, CXV, 319, 335; CXXXIV, 176, 182, 189.

12 SIRIO, XXXII, 117, 544; CXV, 319-21.

13 PSZ, XIX, No. 13, 996 (June 17, 1773), 775-76.

14 PSZ, XX, No. 14, 313 (May 1, 1775), 133-34.

15 Ulozhenie, Chapter 22, point 24, as quoted in PSZ, XX, No. 14, 313 (May 1, 1775), 133.

16 Mikhail M., Shcherbatov, “Statistika v razsuzhdenii Rossii,” Chteniia v imperatorskom obshchestve istorii i drexmostei pri Moskovskom Universitete , XXX (1859), Part III, Section II, 6162.

17 See my “Sahin Girey, the Reformer Khan, and the Russian Annexation of the Crimea,” Jahrbiücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Sept. 1967, pp. 341-64.

18 SIRIO, XXVII, 245-46; Murzakevich, N, “Pis'ma svetJeishago kniazia Grigoriia Aleksandrovicha Potemkina-Tavricheskago raznym litsam (1774-1789),” Zapiski imperatorskago odesskago obshchestva istorii i drevnosti , VIII (1872), 191–93; Skalkovsky, A, “Zaniatie Kryma v 1783 g.,” Zhurnal ministerstva narodnogo prosveshcheniia (1841), II, 2324.

19 AN, SSSR, Materialy po istorii Bashkirskoi ASSR, V (Moscow, 1960), 569–73.

20 Portal, “Les Bashkirs…,” passim.

21 See my unpublished dissertation “The Russian Annexation of the Crimea, 1774-1783” (Columbia University, 1967).

22 “Arkhiv Grafa Igel'stroma,” Russkii arkhiv (1886), XI, 346.

23 Ibid., p. 351; and PSZ, XXII, No. 16, 255 (Sept- 4. ^ S ). 45°-

24 PSZ, XXII, No. 16, 292.

25 “Arkhiv Grafa Igel'stroma,” p. 358.

26 PSZ, XXII, No. 16, 710 (Sept. 22, 1788), 1107; No. 16, 711, p. 1107; XXIII, No. 16, 759 (Apr. 20, 1789), 20-21.

27 AN SSSR, Materialy, pp. 563-64. This is the “charter” establishing the duties and competence of the new assembly.

28 Ibid., p. 564, point 6.

29 Dmitrii Mertvago, “Zapiski,” Russkii arkhiv (1867), Supplement, p. 43.

30 AN SSSR, Materialy, p. 564, point 7.

31 Ibid., pp. 564-66.

32 Ibid., p. 566, point 9.

33 Ibid., p. 565, point 3; p. 684.

34 “Arkhiv Grafa Igel'stroma,” pp. 341-45.

35 PSZ, XXIII, No. 16, 897, 164; No. 17, 099, p. 399.

36 AN SSSR, Materialy, p. 573.

37 Ibid., p. 567.

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Slavic Review
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