Learning to be nobles: the elite and education in post-Petrine Russia Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Fedyukin, Igor
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation explores the relationship between the state and the nobility in post-Petrine Russia (1730s-1750s). It focuses on educational policies pursued by the state: specifically, on the establishment and operations of the Noble Cadet Corps and on the reform of noble service in 1736-1737; it also explores the reaction of the nobility to these policies. Traditionally, historians have viewed these measures as concessions granted by the state to the nobility in the aftermath of the succession crisis of 1730. Using a large body of unpublished sources from the archive of the Noble Cadet Corps and the records of the Heraldry Department, this dissertation argues that in the 1730s the government of Empress Anna conducted a campaign of social disciplining with the goal of fashioning a true nobility out of the existing elite. Specific changes in the system of noble service, such as allowing the nobles some say in choosing their career path and mode of schooling, were not a result of any political pressure from the nobility, but rather were motivated by the changing theoretical notions of human governability. The leading ministers of the reign believed that the best way to govern was to encourage nobles to perform more diligently by allowing them to follow their natural inclinations. The vast majority of the nobles were not interested in the educational opportunities given them by Anna's government. At the same time, by 1730 there already existed a small, but important stratum of the elite which was willing to actively embrace these opportunities. This dissertation argues, therefore, that the elite in the 1730s did not have any residual influence over the governmental policies, nor was there any room for a negotiated or consultative relationship. At the same time, whatever success the government's campaign of social disciplining enjoyed, was due to the willingness of some nobles to cooperate with it.
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  • In Copyright
  • Griffiths, David Mark
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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