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    Paul Bushkovitch: Political Ideology in the Reign of Peter I: Feofan Prokopovich, Succession to the Throne and the West

    ГИИМ: Доклады по истории 18 и 19 вв. – DHI Moskau: Vorträge zum 18. und 19. Jahrhundert Nr. 11 (2012)

    Paul Bushkovitch

    Political Ideology in the Reign of Peter I:

    Feofan Prokopovich, Succession to the Throne and the West


    Abstract

    The term "absolutism" has been increasingly abandoned by historians of Western Europe, but remains as an organizing concept for historians of early modern Russia. In Russia bishop Feofan Prokopovich's defense of Peter the Great's 1722 succession law, the Pravda voli Monarshei, is supposed to be the main example of imported Western absolutist ideology. The young Georgii Gurvich established this interpretation in 1915, following Otto von Gierke's interpretation of early modern political thought, especially of the writings of Hugo Grotius. In fact Grotius was not an advocate for absolutism but for the Dutch republic and his legal ideas were analytic, not advocacy. Gierke and Gurvich's classification of Samuel Pufendorf as an absolutist is also rejected in modern scholarship. Prokopovich's other writings demonstrate that he supported a strong ruler, but not necessarily absolute monarchy. In Peter's time Russia had no "absolutist" political theory.

    Резюме

    Сегодня ученые – специалисты по истории Западной Европы все чаще отказываются от употребления термина «абсолютизм», однако для истории России раннего Нового времени он по-прежнему остается одним из структурирующих концептов. Cчитается, что епископ Феофан Прокопович, защищая в 1722 г. утвержденный Петром Великим новый порядок престолонаследия – Правду воли Монаршей −, заимствовал западную абсолютистскую идеологию. Это утверждение в русскую историческую науку привнес в 1915 г. молодой историк Георгий Гурвич вслед за авторитетным немецким ученым Отто фон Гирке, интерпретировавшим в этом направлении европейскую политическую мысль раннего Нового времени, прежде всего – труды Гуго Гроция. В действительности Гроций вовсе не был апологетом абсолютизма – он был сторонником Нидерландской республики, а высказанные им представления о праве были аналитикой, а не апологетикой. Включение в ряды приверженцев абсолютизма Самуэля Пуффендорфа, на чем настаивали фон Гирке и Гурвич, также оспаривается в современной науке. Что касается самого Прокоповича, другие его сочинения показывают, что он был сторонником сильного правителя, но вовсе не обязательно абсолютного монарха. В петровское время в России не существовало «абсолютистской» политической теории как таковой.

    <1>

    In 1722 Peter the Great issued a decree declaring that the succession to the Russian throne would henceforth be at the discretion of the reigning monarch. In European terminology, the decree established a form of testamentary succession. Shortly thereafter Feofan Prokopovich, bishop of Pskov and already the principal figure in the Russian Orthodox Church, published a defense of the decree. His text was in two parts, one a long discussion of Biblical precedents and the other a defense of the decree founded on the writings of the legal theorists of Western Europe, though he explicitly named only Hugo Grotius. Some two centuries later (1915), an undergraduate student in his final year of the law faculty at Iur 'ev (Dorpat) University, one Georgii Gurvich (1894-1965), published an analysis of Prokopovich 's text. Gurvich went on to Petrograd University, where he received a doctorate in law, and then emigrated. In Paris as Georges Gurvitch, he had a long and distinguished career as a sociologist. His youthful thesis has remained to this day the basic work on Western political thought in Peter 's Russia. Gurvich believed that the bishop had imported into Russia western theories of absolutism, as expounded by Grotius and Samuel von Pufendorf, to support Peter 's reforms, the common interpretation of Prokopovich 's tract to this day. In this belief Gurvich was wrong.

    *

    <2>

    Gurvich was writing about political theory, not about the reality of the state in either Western Europe or Russia. He did not attempt to characterize the state that emerged from Peter 's reforms in any way, "absolutist" or otherwise, other than to assume the full power of the tsar. His concern was with theory. The main influence of Gurvich 's book came later, when historians of both Western Europe and Russia came to use the term "absolutism" to describe the reality of early modern monarchies in both areas. His work provided a convenient pendant to the conception of Peter 's state as absolutist, for it provided that state with an ideology.

    <3>

    Gurvich was very well read in the historical and legal literature of his day. The book was a remarkable performance, one that his older colleagues might have envied. Indeed his advisor, the Russian legal historian Fyodor Taranovskii, was full of praise for the work (he supplied an introduction), criticizing him only for his caution about the influence of Thomas Hobbes on Prokopovich. Gurvich correctly noted that the bishop never cited Hobbes (or Pufendorf), and that there was no evidence that Feofan even read Hobbes. Any ideas that were similar to those of Hobbes must have been the result of Prokopovich 's own thinking .1It is hard to escape the conclusion that Gurvich did want to demonstrate that his advisor was wrong, but was skeptical about the possible impact of Hobbes. Later historians did not share his caution and regularly cited Gurvich to show that Hobbes as well as Grotius and Pufendorf influenced Prokopovich. Here Gurvich was right, not Taranovskii. There was one point in the young scholar 's analysis, however, that should have seemed rather peculiar: that is the work of Grotius as a foundation of absolutist theory. Grotius had a very distinguished political career, but one not serving absolute kings but rather the Dutch republic. Modern writers on Grotius do not even raise the issue of absolutism, considering it obvious that Grotius was entirely in sympathy with the Dutch political system. How could Gurvich make such an odd judgment?

    <4>

    It seems that he was too trustful of the authorities in the field, in this case Otto von Gierke (1841-1921). At the beginning of the twentieth century Gierke was at the peak of his reputation, primarily as an authority on Germanic Genossenschaftsrecht, roughly speaking the law of associations. His idea was that the history of German law did not take the individual alone as its subject (as in Civil Law), but rather people in associations, private and public. German tradition was that of the Rechtsstaat, but not exactly the same Rechtsstaat as in the countries (mainly the Romance countries) where Civil Law was dominant. The national element is very clear, and not surprisingly Gierke was uncomfortable with the normal canon of great thinkers of the early modern era on political and legal topics, Macchiavelli, Bodin, Grotius, Hobbes, and so on. Gierke wanted something more German and also with a federalist aspect, which was dear to his heart as yet another association. The solution came in his 1880 (and several times reprinted) book on Johannes Althusius (1563-1638), whom Gierke claimed was a neglected genius of the early modern age and a pioneer of federalist theory. In the process of introducing Althusius, Gierke gave a summary of early modern political thought in which he asserted that Grotius was behind the theory of absolutism. He did this by asserting that Grotius 's conception of natural law lay behind the absolutism of Hobbes and Pufendorf.2To demonstrate his position he began by adducing the famous dictum of Bodin that sovereignty was absolute, perpetual: "La souveraineté est la puissance absolue et perpetuelle d 'une République, que les Latins appellent majestatem".3Bodin 's notion of sovereignty also implied that it was indivisible and for a state ("république"), not just a monarchy. Though Bodin was mainly concerned to defend the French monarchy, his theory stated clearly that all states, not just monarchies, had sovereignty. To Gierke, however, all of Bodin 's state forms were absolute, and monarchy was clearly the most desirable state.4Thus Bodin appealed to defenders of "Absolutismus". This conception was not entirely inaccurate, but Gierke 's version of Grotius was another matter. In his account Grotius asserted that sovereignty meant that the state was not subject to the will of another.5Again Grotius was speaking of states, not kings. Gierke, however, asserted that Grotius only conceived of the state as an individual person or persons, and lacked "der Begriff der Staatspersönlichkeit".6Thus Grotius became a source for absolutism. In fact Grotius, for example, asserted that the Dutch republic was sovereign, as well as any other fully independent state, and he defended its sovereignty against the Dutch Reformed church as well as foreign powers. Gierke 's sleight of hand made the republican into a theorist of absolute monarchy, a view that was not universal, though the other leading German historian of law of the time, Georg Jellinek, followed Gierke with some qualifications.7

    <5>

    Gurvich was not just blindly following an accepted leader in legal historical scholarship. He clearly wanted to find an absolutist theory for Peter 's time, since he was training for the generally liberal Russian juridical profession, and saw Peter as the founder of the state under which he lived in 1915, that is, an absolute monarchy tempered by a very recently established and limited Duma. Gierke 's interpretation of Grotius, improbable as it was, provided him with an argument, for Prokopovich certainly approved of Grotius' conception of state sovereignty. Gurvich also detected the influence of Samuel Pufendorf, who seemed to provide another "absolutist", since Gurvich accepted Gierke 's interpretation in this case as well. Gierke saw Pufendorf 's system as merely a moderate form of that of Hobbes.8Gurvich was wrong here too, for Prokopovich never cited Pufendorf and there is no evidence in the text of any of the German jurist 's characteristic ideas, as opposed to those he shared with Grotius and other contemporary jurists. Pufendorf was certainly known in Russia, for Peter had both his history of Europe and his 1682 popular account of his political theories, De officio hominis et civis, translated into Russian. Unfortunately for Gurvich Pufendorf was no absolutist either. His first major work was an analysis of the existing structure of the Holy Roman Empire, which he saw as an anomaly, but did not wish to reform. He was quite happy to serve limited monarchies (Sweden before 1682) as well as "absolute" monarchs (Sweden after 1682, Brandenburg). He was also a great supporter of the English Glorious Revolution of 1688 and said so in print. Pufendorf 's comfort with various forms of government was not opportunism: as Leonard Krieger pointed out a half century ago, Pufendorf was an analyst, not a reformer. His conception of the nature of the state and its sovereignty did not imply that one form of government was more desirable than another. His history of Europe made that point very clearly. Rebellion and civil war were clearly bad, but the various forms of European government are otherwise treated historically, with their various virtues and vices. On forms of government, Pufendorf was studiously neutral. Both Grotius and Pufendorf were unlikely candidates for theorists of absolute monarchy, but Gurvich was looking for absolutists who influenced Prokopovich. In this search he was considerably ahead of his time.

    *

    <6>

    Absolutism came into its own as the dominant conception for early modern European history only after the Second World War. Most surveys and textbooks of European history from the late nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth described the early modern era not in terms of absolutism but of "the rise of national states" or avoided the question of state structure entirely in favor of a political narrative that often stressed foreign policy. The national state was a useful framework, for it both justified the history of France and Britain and provided a background for the national unification movements in nineteenth century Germany and Italy. In Germany some historians (Reinhold Koser, Fritz Hartung) did use the term before the 1950 's but it remained rare and was usually a reference to the "enlightened absolutism" of the late eighteenth century. The first widely successful attempt to find absolutism, rather than national unity, as the central feature of the early modern state came in the report of Roland Mousnier and Fritz Hartung at the 1955 International Congress of Historians at Rome. From that moment on it spread rapidly, and was the dominant framework for early modern European history by the 1960 's.

    <7>

    The history of political thought followed a similar rhythm. Historians of West European political thought, a mixture of jurists, philosophers, and historians, also rarely employed the terms "absolutist" or "absolutism" before the 1950 's, but there were exceptions, mainly German. Gierke had already used the terms in his work on Althusius, and no less than Friedrich Meinecke used "absolutism" in the section headings for his widely read 1924 work Die Idee der Staatsräson in der neueren Geschichte. From Mousnier and Hartung onwards historians of political thought began to look for absolutist theories, but it seems to be the case that they were less enamored of the concept than their colleagues who wrote on the history of the state or culture.

    <8>

    In the course of the twentieth century, the Russian state from Peter 's time onward came to be seen within the conception of absolutism, both as a matter of practice and a matter of political theory, but this conception came late for Western and Soviet historians alike. Pre-1917 Russian historiography did not use the term absolutism to describe either the Russian state of the eighteenth century and before. The preferred term was the traditional samoderzhavie. In the Soviet Union, the story was rather complicated. Soviet historians of Western Europe (mainly of France) debated the nature of early modern European state and society through the 1930 's, with the final decisions made at a session of the Academy of Sciences in 1940. From then on the label absolutism was a requirement for all Soviet histories of early modern Western Europe. Russian history was more complicated. The Pokrovskii era had other concerns, since his notion that the whole of Russian history from 1500 to industrialization was the rise of merchant capital (torgovyi kapital). The state scarcely figured in his narrative, and when it did the term was the traditional samoderzhavie. As the change in ideological orientation came in 1934 and new textbooks had to be written, the authors often labeled the period of Peter "absolutism" in chapter titles, but the actual texts said nothing about it. In the 1950 's Boris Kafengauz employed it on several occasions, citing Gurvich 's book on Prokopovich as evidence of absolutist theory, even though Gurvich had long ago emigrated and émigré historians were normally off limits. It was only at the end of the 1960 's, with the discussion on absolutism in Russia on the pages of the journal Istoriia SSSR, that absolutism became the predominant usage in Soviet historiography. So it remains today, in Russian historical writings about seventeenth and eighteenth century Russia, and the Russians are not alone. Starting in the 1960 's most Western historians of eighteenth century Russia used the term as well. James Cracraft, Paul Dukes, John LeDonne, Isabel de Madariaga, and Lindsey Hughes all employed absolutism as an assumption and a framework. Some, Reinhard Wittram and Marc Raeff, were more cautious, but absolutism remains the most common label for the state structure and ideology of eighteenth century Russia. Most recently Cynthia Whittaker continued the tradition of "absolutist" Russia, once again telling us that Grotius and Pufendorf were theorists of absolutism who influenced the Russians through Prokopovich.9

    <9>

    For the historian today the problem is that the conception of absolutism in the West that came from the work of Mousnier and so many other historians of his generation has collapsed. Most historians, French, British, American, or German, have either abandoned it entirely or redefined it so extensively that it is another concept. The basis of the Western absolutist conception was that the kings had sidelined the aristocracies and created a state that was centralized, bureaucratic, and faced no other centers of power (e.g. national or local assemblies). Its key features were a standing army and the ability to impose taxes by royal decree. The historians of the last generation have shown that all these features were much more limited than Mousnier and his generation believed, and that the kings worked with, not against, the aristocracies both in formal institutions and through informal networks. The result was a state that was a complex and ever changing machinery of compromise, shared power and only occasional and limited assertions of royal power. It was a state different to be sure from the feudal monarchies of the later Middle Ages, but nothing like the proto-modern state imagined from the 1950 's to the 1990 's. Similarly the writers on early modern Western political theory do not portray their subjects as advocates of absolutism. "Absolutism", as they point out, was a word invented after 1815 to describe the extreme monarchist conservatives of that era. Until then it did not exist and expressions like "monarchie absolue" were rare even in the works of publicists such as bishop Jaques-Bénigne Bossuet, court preacher to Louis XIV in the 1660 's and author of several works defending royal power. The identification of natural law theory with absolutism is not found in standard works such as the 1991 Cambridge History of Political Thought 1450-1700. The emphasis is on the notions of natural law in relationship to religion and the church and the position of the individual in society. Recent historians, such as Horst Dreitzel, have noted that Grotius and Pufendorf 's theories could support unlimited or limited monarchy, as long as the state was sovereign. Richard Tuck described the actual political views of Grotius, which were republican, as should have been expected in a Dutchman of the time.

    *

    <10>

    To Feofan Grotius was the most relevant author because the bishop was not writing a tract on political thought, absolutist or otherwise. Grotius was a jurist, and the subject of Feofan 's tract was a specific law, not the nature of the state, political power, or the virtues of one or another sort of monarchy. This was a feature of the text that Gurvich ignored. Prokopovich produced a defense of a specific law, Peter 's inheritance law of 1722, so the most relevant authors were naturally jurists. The first half of the text (ch. 1-9) is a discussion of the legal power of parents over their children based on Biblical precedent, historical examples, and law. The second half (ch. 10-16) concerns the power of monarchs over their children. It repeats the earlier arguments, applying them to monarchs. In chapters 10-12 he noted the duty of parents, including monarchs, to bring up their sons as best they can, though he saw no obligation to make them exactly resemble themselves, citing Biblical and classical examples. Only in chapter 13 does he discuss the power of monarchs in general, and then finishes (ch. 14-16) with a discussion of the application of the preceding chapters to the issue of succession. In that connection the first part of chapter 15 contains a brief discussion of the forms of government and monarchy. In other words, only a chapter and a half out of the entire Prokopovich text formed the object of analysis in the work of Gurvich, the analysis that has informed all subsequent discussion.

    <11>

    Gurvich concentrated all his attention on this relatively small part of the book, though Feofan stuck closely to his task, devoting most of the text to the issue of parental power. This was a legal, not a political issue, as he made clear in chapter three, calling on the reader to examine the three hundred law books that can be found in St. Petersburg and going on to cite the Code of Justinian for the right of a parent to disinherit his son. He then quoted Grotius in describing the power of parents to sell and even kill their children in various societies,10though he adds that these customs "ne ves 'ma dostokhval 'ny sut'." His summation, that it is natural for parents to provide for their children, including by inheritance, and that therefore the children receive it not by right, but by the good will of the parents, closely followed Grotius.11So far Feofan produced essentially a legal thesis, though he noted (ch. 8) that "political philosophers" agree with the relevant laws and traditions.

    <12>

    Only in chapter 13, after the long discourse on parental right and duties did he take up the nature of supreme power. The theme, Feofan declared, is "velichestvo" or in Latin "majestas". Prokopovich says that it has two meanings, one a superior dignity and the other supreme power subject to no laws. Maiestas, of course, was the Latin word Bodin used for "souverainté".12Grotius seems to have used it only in the sense of dignity.13Feofan never referred to Bodin, however, and went on to quote Grotius "That power is called sovereign whose actions are not subject to the legal control of another, so that they cannot be rendered void by the operation of another human will." ("Summa autem illa [potestas] dicitur, cuius actus alterius iuri non subsunt, ita ut alterius voluntatis humanae arbitrio irriti possint reddi.").14He interpreted the Dutchman 's expression "summa potestas" as "vysochaishaia vlast'" and inserted into the quotation in parenthesis the explanation of that phrase: "velichestvo naritsaemaia" thus equating majestasand potestas. Generally Grotius used the term imperiumor potestas, not majestas, to speak of the sovereignty of kings or other types of rulers over subjects,15so Feofan was adding his own interpretation here. Feofan understood Grotius correctly, however, that this supreme power, sovereignty, is not subject to the will of another and its actions cannot be annulled by any other besides God himself. The justification for this notion, Prokopovich continued, is natural reason: if a power is called supreme, it cannot be subject to another 's will. Therefore no one can judge or scrutinize (istiazati) the monarch. A long series of statements from scripture and various church fathers demonstrated the same conclusion: the monarch must be obeyed and not judged or scrutinized. He is therefore free from human law, though not from God 's law. This section is the heart of the argument by Gurvich and all others ever after that the text reflects an absolutist doctrine.

    <13>

    The second part of Feofan 's argument in section 13, that the monarch is not subject to human law, looks very absolutist. The idea is more or less the same as that found in the ancient maxim from the Code of Justinian, "Rex solutus legibus est."16This maxim had a long history in medieval and early modern Europe, but in the Middle Ages it was not taken by jurists to imply absolutism. Legal writers who defended the rights of estate assemblies quoted it frequently. In the early modern era it appeared more frequently as a defense of royal power, for example in France as a justification for extraordinary measures such as the lettres de cachet rather than of normal legislation.17The problem with this conception is that it was irrelevant to Russian conditions. The idea was that the monarch was free to ignore existing laws, whether written law or legal fictions like the French "fundamental laws", one of which was the law of succession. Russia, however, had no such laws. The succession practices of the Kievan and Moscow princes were entirely based on custom, and the content of that custom is to this day a matter of debate among historians. The Romanov dynasty came to power by an election, and Peter himself was chosen in 1682 by the boyars and the church over an elder brother. In 1713 Louis XIV tried to alter the law of succession, thus overturning one of the fundamental laws of France. In 1722 Peter 's law of succession did not overturn an existing law, it created a written law of succession for the first time in Russian history. The tsar himself in the preface to the law stated that it was to supersede a harmful custom (obychai), not a law. Why then, should Feofan want to argue that Peter could make such a law because the sovereign did not have to obey human law? A closer examination of his text in the second part of chapter 13, however, shows that he, like many interpreters of the maxim of Ulpian, meant something quite different from original intent. All of his scriptural examples in the chapter are about obeying the king 's commands, not about the king 's actions in relationship to law. The emphasis is that no one, least of all subjects, may oppose or particularly may judge the king or call him to account for his actions. The idea that the monarch did not have to obey human law had to have a new meaning in a country without a learned legal profession and which was defining the powers of various state institutions in written law for the first time. Feofan either did not understand the function of the idea in European law or he realized that in Russian conditions it had different implications. For him the issue was obedience. Similarly the bishop took the idea of sovereignty, an idea that was new to the Russians, but used it to buttress very traditional arguments for obedience to the monarch. The notion of sovereignty as the intellectual basis of the analysis of the state was an innovation, not the political conclusions that called for obedience to the monarch.

    <14>

    Feofan borrowed more from the natural law school than the definition of state sovereignty, even if on a rather theoretical level. All governments, he continued, derive their origin from an original agreement among the people. Once again he asserted a general principle, one held by most of the European lawyers and theorists of the time. This agreement, in the case of hereditary monarchy, implied a desire on the part of the people that the ruler should leave an heir in some fashion: that is the meaning of hereditary monarchy. As the Bible teaches that all power is from God, then God has willed the agreement and its details. In a monarchy then, the exercise of sovereignty means that the people must obey the monarch and can neither depose nor judge him (he was thinking of Charles I, as he states), unless conditions were laid down in the initial agreement. Thus the Polish constitution was perfectly legitimate, but in Russia there were no such conditions. In Russia there were no such prior conditions so no one could dispute the Russian monarch 's choice of an heir. He also argued that it is a mistake to assume that in making a hereditary monarchy the people intended that the king should not have the power to name a successor. The only case in which the people can have any role in determining the succession is the case in which the ruler dies without making his wishes known. In this situation they are to try to determine his opinion of his children or any other persons, so as to enthrone someone whom the king had preferred. Feofan 's idea of hereditary monarchy implied not just primogeniture but also the option of testamentary succession, a practice known also in the West, as in the case of the Spanish monarchy before the Bourbon accession.

    <15>

    The final chapter of the Pravda is an argument for hereditary (in this sense) monarchy against elective monarchy. This section is the only part of the book that is political rather than legal. As a sort of appendix Feofan provided forty-one examples from secular history of rulers appointing their successors, concluding with the case of Ivan III, cited also in Peter 's law, and five from sacred history as well. He concluded the work by ridiculing the idea that Peter 's succession law was bad because it was an innovation, and noted once again that the example of Ivan III shows that in fact it was not an innovation. If Russia 's lack of learning did not prevent the composition of a complete history, he suggested, there would be more examples.

    *

    <16>

    The Pravda, however, was not the only text in which Feofan expounded his views of politics, or rather of the political literature of his time. At the behest of Peter he also translated by 1716 the work of Diego de Saavedra Fajardo, then quite famous as the author of Idea de un principe politico christiano en cien empresas (1640) usually known as Empresas politicas, a book of emblems explained to provide political advice to rulers. The Spanish diplomat 's book was translated into Latin in 1659, and in that form acquired a European audience that extended to Russia. In the preface to his (unpublished) translation Feofan briefly surveyed the political literature which he knew. It was, he said, of three types. Aristotle and his followers had written about the state, but they mostly talked about virtue in a philosophical manner and said little about actual practice. Others, Plato being his example, analyzed politics po umyshlenii svoem, but came up only with an abstract scheme not concordant with narodnye obychai. Still others tried to make their difficult teaching acceptable by writing history – this was Tacitus—or in the form of stories. Here his examples were Xenophon 's Cyropaedia and two early modern best sellers. One was the sixteenth century Spanish bishop Antonio de Guevara 's 1529 Reloj de principes on Marcus Aurelius (Feofan mistakenly said Marcus Antonius), widely read in Latin as Horologium principis. The other was John Barclay 's Latin novel allegorizing the French Wars of Religion, Argenis (1621). Their works, said Feofan, were clever and pleasing, but incomplete. The Jesuit writers Robert Bellarmine and Juan de Mariana he rejected entirely, for they placed kings under the power of the Pope and advocated regicide. The only writer who discussed all the important tasks for monarchs without the defects of the others was Saavedra Fajardo. He had practical experience as an advisor to kings and provided advice for every occasion, person, or customs that the monarch might encounter. His only defect was that he was occasionally obscure and Feofan had tried his best to rectify this in his translation.

    <17>

    What is striking about Feofan 's description of European political thought is that there are no writers here that are normally understood to be advocates of absolutism. Guevara and Barclay were certainly advocates of strong royal power. Guevara, however, was mainly concerned with the moral personality of the king, while Barclay 's main enemy was disorder and aristocratic faction. Though a Catholic, he opposed the claims of the Pope to superiority over the king of France. The closest Barclay came to "absolutism" was the defense of the royal prerogative to tax the subjects without asking them, the norm in France in any case, but he did not advocate the suppression of assemblies and insisted that the king should rule according to law.18Feofan found Guevara and Barclay imperfect compared to Saavedra. The Spaniard advised kings to avoid ambition:

    "Inordinate ambition encourages the oppression of the liberty of the people, the humbling of the nobility, the weakening of the powerful, and the reduction of all to royal authority, thinking that the more absolute it is and the lower the people are reduced, the more secure it is. An illusion which by flattery gains the will of princes and puts them in great danger. It is modesty that preserves empires, correcting the prince 's ambition and maintaining within the bounds of reason the power of his dignity, the rank of the nobility and the liberty of the people, for a monarchy is not durable which is not mixed and is composed of aristocracy and democracy. Absolute power is tyranny."19

    Modern scholars recognize that, like the natural law theorists, Saavedra Fajardo was not an absolutist.20

    *

    <18>

    Prokopovich did not advocate "absolutism" because it did not exist in either theory or practice in Western Europe for Russia to borrow. To be sure the growth of royal power, at least in some European states, was real and its "enemies" identified by the past historians of "absolutism" were also real. In Catholic countries the Pope remained a rival to the kings. The kings also did contend with aristocracies, local and "central", but they dealt with them not by wholesale suppression or by "taming" them but by making arrangements, giving them offices and rewards and suppressing the few who remained recalcitrant or rebelled. Power was in fact shared. They did try to expand the central administration, but in limited ways and not eliminating the older structures, merely supplementing them. They also did not suppress assemblies of estates: in France the Estates General may not have met after 1614, but nearly half the country remained pays d 'états until 1789. The ongoing effort of French and other kings to establish permanent taxes and a standing army was only partially successful, even in countries later labeled "absolutist". The absence of "absolutist" theory is even more striking. The political and legal theorists of the time, a few royalist pamphleteers aside, did not advocate unlimited power of the monarch. They believed that the state possessed absolute sovereignty, but were neutral about the type of state: republics or limited monarchies were sovereign as well as "unlimited" monarchies. Political leaders proclaimed "absolute" power for the kings in certain situations, not as generalities. The Third Estate in the 1614 States General of France asserted that the king 's sovereignty implied that no one could judge or oppose him, but they meant the Pope, not themselves or the parlements. King Christian V of Denmark proclaimed "absolute power" in 1665/6, meaning that the throne was henceforth hereditary and the succession did not need to be confirmed or asserted by the estates, mainly the nobility. After the proclamation of royal sovereignty in Sweden in 1682, the riksdag continued to meet.

    <19>

    Prokopovich, as a more careful examination of his writings demonstrates, understood all this. In any case, Russia 's situation differed considerably from that of France or the Western monarchies. However powerful the last patriarchs of the Orthodox Church in Russia may have been, they were not the local representatives of a large and powerful international church. The Russian boyars in the seventeenth century (and perhaps before) were not the representatives of any local noble community or territory. They had always acted in concert with the Tsar even if they fought with one another for influence on him. Russia also had no rebellious princes of the blood. If the tsar 's power had no legal limit, neither did that of the boyars in the duma. Both followed custom, and custom could change. Only in Peter 's time did a short-lived opposition to monarchical power emerge among the aristocracy, but as the events of 1730 demonstrated, it was too small and too limited in aims to gain much support among the elite. The Zemskii sobor was not trivial, but it did not deal with taxation or the army. What it did do was name the tsar (in 1598 and 1613) and that function was inherited after 1725 by the guards regiments, through which the Russian elite continued to name its rulers until 1801. The centralized administration certainly grew in the seventeenth century, and more from Peter 's time onward, but seventeenth century offices were headed by aristocrats and after Peter, but the new composite elite emerged that soon saw itself as equally aristocratic to the old boyars. The provinces remained notoriously undergoverned, and the weakness of local administration in Russia had no parallel in the major European states. Russia had no intendants.

    <20>

    In the Russian situation the natural law theorists and other political writers in the West did have an audience, but not because of "absolutist" theory, which they did not represent. It may have been their very neutrality about forms of government, combined with the assertion of state sovereignty and insistence on written law, which gave rise to their appeal to the Russians. Peter (and Prokopovich) wanted to create a stronger state and base its actions on written law. Prokopovich as well as the tsar could rely on western writers for arguments about the state in general, but for particular forms of administration they had to find models in Western practice (such as the Swedish colleges), not in political or legal theory.

    Bibliography


    1. Absolutism and Monarchy in Western Europe

    R. G. Asch and H. Duchhardt, eds., Der Absolutismus − ein Mythos? Strukturwandel monarchischer Herrschaft, Cologne-Weimar-Vienna, 1996.
    W. Beik, Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth Century France, Cambridge, 1985.
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     'absolutisme, Paris, 1989.
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     'absolutisme en France: Histoire et historiographie, Paris, 2002.
    F. Hartung and R. Mousnier, "Quelques problèmes concernant la monarchie absolue", Relazioni del X Congresso internazionale di scienze storiche. Vol. IV. Firenze, 1955.
    N. Henshall, Myth of Absolutism, London, 1992.
    Absolutismus, ed. W. Hubatsch, Darmstadt, 1973.
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     'ev and T. Kondrat'eva, Nauka "ubezhdat'" ili spory sovetskikh istorikov o frantsuzkom absoliutizme i klassovoi bor'be (20-e-nachalo 50-kh gg. XX veka), Tiumen', 2003.
    Der dynastische Fürstenstaat: Zur Bedeutung von Sukzessionsordnungen für die Entstehung des frühmodernen Staates, ed. J. Kunisch and H. Neuhaus, Berlin, 1982.
    R. Mousnier, Institutions de la France sous la monarchie absolue, 2 vols. Paris, 1974-80.
    C. Saguez-Lovisi, Les lois fondamentales au XVIII siècle: Recherches sur la loi de dévolution de la couronne, Paris, 1983.
    Absolutismus, ein unersetzliches Forschungskonzept?/L'absolutisme, un concept irremplaçable?, ed. L. Schilling, Munich, 2008.


    2. Western Political and Legal Thought

    a. Sources
    J. Barclay, Argenis, 2 vols, ed. and transl. by M. Riley and D. Pritchard Huber. Tempe (Ariz.), 2004.
    J. Bodin, Les six livres de la République [1576]. 6 vols., ed. Ch. Frémont, M.-D. Couzinet, and H. Rochais, Paris, 1986.
    Domitius Ulpianus, Corpus Iuris Civilis. I. Digesta.
    H. Grotius, De iure belli et pacis [1625], ed. P. C. Molhuysen. Leiden, 1919; The Law of War and Peace, ed. and transl. F. W. Kelsey, vol. 2 of H. Grotius, De iure belli et pacis, 1913-1925, Washington (D.C.), 1925.
    H. Grotius, Ordinum Hollandiae ac Westfrisiae pietas (1613), ed. and transl. E. Rabbie. Leiden-New York, 1995.
    A. de Guevara, Reloj de principes, Valladolid, 1529.
    S. von Pufendorf, De officio hominis et civis. 2 vols., transl. F. Gardner Moore, New York, 1927; O dolzhnosti cheloveka i grazhdanina. [St. Petersburg], 1726; Einleitung zu der Historie der vornehmsten Reiche und Staaten, so itziger Zeit in Europa sich befinden. Frankfurt, 1682; Introductio ad historiam Europæam. Utrecht, 1693; Vvedenie v gistoriiu evropeiskuiu. St. Petersburg, 1718; Die Verfassung des deutschen Reiches, ed. and transl. H. Denzer. Frankfurt/M., 1994.
    D. Saavedra Fajardo, Empresas políticas, ed. S. López Poza. Madrid 1999.

    b. Studies
    T. Behme, Samuel von Pufendorf: Naturrecht und Staat, Göttingen, 1995.
    Cambridge History of Poltical Thought 1450-1700, ed. J. H. Burns and M. Goldie. Cambridge, 1991.
    H. Dreitzel, Monarchiebegriffe in der Fürstengesellschaft. 2 vols, Cologne-Weimar-Vienna, 1991.
    R. Jeffery, Hugo Grotius in International Thought, New York, 2006.
    L. Krieger, The Politics of Discretion: Pufendorf and the Acceptance of Natural Law, Chicago, 1965.
    F. Meinecke, Die Idee der Staatsräson in der neueren Geschichte, Berlin, 1925.
    C. Romanoski, Tacitus Emblematicus: Diego de Saavedra Fajardo und seine "Empresas Politicas", Berlin, 2006.
    R. Tuck, Philosophy and Government 1572-1651, Cambridge, 1993.



    3. Feofan Prokopovich, Georgii Gurvich and the Culture of the Era of Peter the Great

    I.A. Chistovich, Feofan Prokopovich i ego vremia, St. Petersburg, 1868.
    J. Cracraft, The Petrine Revolution in Russian Culture, Cambridge (Mass.), 2004.
    O. von Gierke, Johannes Althusius und die Entwicklung der naturrechtlichen Staatstheorien. 5
    th ed. Aalen, 1958 (originally 1880).
    G. Gurvich, "'Pravda voli monarshei' Feofana Prokopovicha i ee zapadnoevropeiskie istochniki", Uchenye zapiski imperatorskogo Iur'evskogo universiteta, 23, 11 (1915), I-IX, 1-112.
    G. Gurwitsch, "Otto von Gierke als Rechtsphilosoph", Logos 11 (1922/23), 80-148.
    G. Jellinek, Allgemeine Staatslehre, 2
    nd edition, Berlin, 1905.
    A. Janssen, Otto von Gierke's Methode der geschichtlichen Rechtswissenschaft: Studien zu den Wegen und Formen seines juristischen Denkens, Göttingen, 1974.
    Naturrecht und Staatstheorie bei Samuel Pufendorf , ed. D. Hüning, Baden-Baden, 2009.
    Pekarskii P. Nauka i literatura v Rossii pri Petre Velikom. 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1862.
    [F. Prokopovich], Pravda voli monarshei, Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii, vol. 7, 1830, 602-643; Peter the Great: his Law on the Imperial Succession in Russia 1722, the Official Commentary, Pravda voli monarshei, ed. A. Lentin. Oxford, 1996.
    P. V. Verkhovskii, Uchrezhdenie Dukhovnoi kollegii i dukhovnyii reglament. K voprosu ob otnosheniii tserkvi i gosudarstva v Rossii. 2 vols., Rostov na Donu, 1916. [vol. 2 contains Feofan's preface to Saavedra Fajardo.]
    C. H. Whittaker, Russian Monarchy: Eighteenth Century Rulers and Writers in Political Dialogue, DeKalb (Ill.), 2003.
    V. M. Zhivov, Iazyk i kul'tura v Rossii XVIII veka, Moscow, 1996.

    Author

    Prof. Paul Bushkovitch
    Department of History, Yale University
    Email: paul.bushkovitch@yale.edu

    1 G. Gurvich, "Pravda voli monarshei" Feofana Prokopovicha i ee zapadnoevropeiskie istochniki", Uchenye zapiski imperatorskogo Iur'evskogo universiteta (1915), 11, I-IX, 1-112, here 109-110.

    2 O. von Gierke, Johannes Althusius und die Entwicklung der naturrechtlichen Staatstheorien. 5th ed. Aalen, 1958 (originally 1880), 72.

    3 J. Bodin, Les six livres de la République [1576], 6 vols., ed. Ch. Frémont, M.-D. Couzinet, and H. Rochais, Paris, 1986, I, 8, 179.

    4 O. von Gierke, Johannes Althusius,152-153.

    5 H. Grotius, De iure belli et pacis, ed. P. C. Molhuysen. Leiden, 1919 [originally 1625], I, 3, 7.

    6 O. von Gierke, Althusius, 151-152, 172-74.

    7 G. Gurvich, "Pravda voli monarshei" Feofana Prokopovicha, 40, citing both Gierke and Jellinek; G. Jellinek, Allgemeine Staatslehre. 2nd ed. Berlin, 1905, 56-58, 446-447.

    8 O. von Gierke, Johannes Althusius,72, 182-186.

    9 C. H. Whittaker, Russian Monarchy: Eighteenth Century Rulers and Writers in Political Dialogue, DeKalb (Ill.), 2003, 30; The author has been guilty of the same mistake. See P. Bushkovitch, Peter the Great: the Struggle for Power 1671-1725. Cambridge, 2001, 440-441, corrected in idem, Petr Velikii: Bor'ba za vlast' (1671-1725), SPb., 2008, 448.

    10 H. Grotius, De iure belli et pacis [1625], ed. P. C. Molhuysen. Leiden, 1919, II, 5, 7.

    11 Ibid., 8, 3-7.

    12 J. Bodin, Les six livres de la République, I, 8.

    13 H. Grotius, De iure belli et pacis, I, 3, 21-22.

    14 Ibid., I, 3, 7.

    15 Ibid., I, 3, 12.

    16 Domitius Ulpianus, Corpus Iuris Civilis. I. Digesta,3, 31.

    17 See F. Cosandey, R. Descimon, L'absolutisme en France: Histoire et historiographie, Paris, 2002.

    18 J. Barclay, Argenis, 2 vols., ed. and transl. M. Riley and D. Pritchard Huber, Tempe (Ariz.), 2004, IV, 18.

    19 "El poder absoluta es tirania"; D. Saavedra Fajardo, Empresas políticas, ed. S. López Poza, Madrid, 1999, 41, 512-513.

    20 C. Romanoski, Tacitus emblematicus, 277-289.

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    PSJ Metadata
    Paul Bushkovitch
    Political Ideology in the Reign of Peter I
    Feofan Prokopovich, Succession to the Throne and the West

    Der Begriff "Absolutismus" wird von westeuropäischen Historikern mittlerweile weitgehend verworfen, bleibt jedoch ein Ordnungsbegriff für Historiker, die sich mit der Geschichte Russlands in der Frühen Neuzeit befassen. In Russland gilt Bischof Feofan Prokopovičs Verteidigung des Thronfolgegesetzes Peters des Großen aus dem Jahr 1722, die Pravda voli monarši, als Paradebeispiel importierter westlicher absolutistischer Ideologie. Der junge Georgij Gurvič etablierte diese Interpretation im Jahr 1915. Hierbei folgte er Otto von Gierkes Interpretationen frühneuzeitlichen politischen Denkens, insbesondere der Schriften von Hugo Grotius. Tatsächlich war Grotius jedoch kein Verfechter des Absolutismus, sondern der Vereinigten Niederlande. Seine Rechtsideen waren rein analytischer Natur. Gierkes und Gurvičs Einordnung von Samuel Pufendorf als Theoretiker des Absolutismus wird von der neueren Forschung ebenfalls abgelehnt. Weitere Schriften Prokopovičs zeigen, dass er einen starken Herrscher befürwortete, aber nicht notwendigerweise eine absolute Monarchie. In der petrinischen Zeit gab es in Russland keine „absolutistische“ politische Theorie. The term "absolutism" has been increasingly abandoned by historians of Western Europe, but remains as an organizing concept for historians of early modern Russia. In Russia bishop Feofan Prokopovich's defense of Peter the Great's 1722 succession law, the Pravda voli Monarshei, is supposed to be the main example of imported Western absolutist ideology. The young Georgii Gurvich established this interpretation in 1915, following Otto von Gierke's interpretation of early modern political thought, especially of the writings of Hugo Grotius. In fact Grotius was not an advocate for absolutism but for the Dutch republic and his legal ideas were analytic, not advocacy. Gierke and Gurvich's classification of Samuel Pufendorf as an absolutist is also rejected in modern scholarship. Prokopovich's other writings demonstrate that he supported a strong ruler, but not necessarily absolute monarchy. In Peter's time Russia had no "absolutist" political theory. Сегодня ученые – специалисты по истории Западной Европы все чаще отказываются от употребления термина «абсолютизм», однако для истории России раннего Нового времени он по-прежнему остается одним из структурирующих концептов. Cчитается, что епископ Феофан Прокопович, защищая в 1722 г. утвержденный Петром Великим новый порядок престолонаследия – Правду воли Монаршей −, заимствовал западную абсолютистскую идеологию. Это утверждение в русскую историческую науку привнес в 1915 г. молодой историк Георгий Гурвич вслед за авторитетным немецким ученым Отто фон Гирке, интерпретировавшим в этом направлении европейскую политическую мысль раннего Нового времени, прежде всего – труды Гуго Гроция. В действительности Гроций вовсе не был апологетом абсолютизма – он был сторонником Нидерландской республики, а высказанные им представления о праве были аналитикой, а не апологетикой. Включение в ряды приверженцев абсолютизма Самуэля Пуффендорфа, на чем настаивали фон Гирке и Гурвич, также оспаривается в современной науке. Что касается самого Прокоповича, другие его сочинения показывают, что он был сторонником сильного правителя, но вовсе не обязательно абсолютного монарха. В петровское время в России не существовало «абсолютистской» политической теории как таковой.

    en
    CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0
    Frühe Neuzeit (1500-1789)
    Russland
    Ideen- und Geistesgeschichte, Politikgeschichte
    Neuzeit bis 1900
    4076899-5 4000243-3 4359546-7
    Feofan Prokopovič Politische Theorie der Frühen Neuzeit Absolutismus Georgij Gurvič Otto von Gierke
    1500-1800
    Russland (4076899-5), Absolutismus (4000243-3), Herrschaftssystem (4359546-7)
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    Paul Bushkovitch: Political Ideology in the Reign of Peter I: Feofan Prokopovich, Succession to the Throne and the West
    In: Vorträge des Deutschen Historischen Instituts Moskau
    URL: https://prae.perspectivia.net/publikationen/vortraege-moskau/bushkovitch_ideology
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