F. G. Strube de Piermont and the Origins of Russian Legal History

  • W. E. Butler


On an unusually pleasant March day in 1987 I journeyed from the Harvard Law School, where I was Visiting Professor, to New Haven, Connecticut, to address the ‘Typophiles’ at Yale. A free morning provided a welcome opportunity to browse amongst the local antiquarian booksellers, and I soon found myself on the second floor of a dilapidated structure leafing through several hundred disbound eighteenth-century English pamphlets. They had been only partly catalogued by the dealer, who knew his subject thoroughly. One in particular caught my eye in what was necessarily a hurried exercise: The Remarks of a True German Patriot Upon a Writing, intitled, Exposition of the Motives which Obliged the King of Prussia to Supply the Emperor with Auxiliaries (London, 1744), with no author indicated in the pamphlet or attributed by the dealer. I decided, wisely as it transpired, to purchase in the belief that it was a rare early, perhaps the first, publication by a central European jurist who spent the majority of his years in Russian service.


Concise Manual State Affair Etymological Dictionary Russian Legislation Diplomatic Agent 
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  1. 1.
    I. de Madariaga, Britain, Russia and the Armed Neutrality of 1780: Sir James Harris’s Mission to St Petersburg during the American Revolution (New Haven and London, 1962).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    I. de Madariaga, ‘Portrait of an Eighteenth-Century Russian Statesman: Prince Dmitry Mikhaylovich Golitsyn’, Slavonic and East European Review, LXII, 1 (January 1984) 36–60.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See A. H. Brown, ‘The Father of Russian Jurisprudence: The Legal Thought of S.E. Desnitskii’, in W. E. Butler (ed.), Russian Law: Historical and Political Perspectives (Leiden, 1977) pp. 117–41,Google Scholar
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  5. 4.
    V. E. Grabar’, Materialy k istorii literatury mezhdunarodnogo prava v Rossii 1647–1917 (Moscow, 1958) p. 149.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    G. S. Fel’dshtein, Glavnye techeniia v istorii nauki ugolovnogo prava v Rossii (Iaroslavl’, 1909) p. 150. See also E.K., ‘Strube (Shtrube)-de-Pirmon, Fridrikh-Genrikh,’ Russkii biograficheskii slovar’ (St Petersburg), pp. 547–9.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    B. L. Modzalevskii (comp.), Spisok chlenov imp. Akademii nauk (St Petersburg, 1908) p. 7.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    F. H. Strube de Piermont, Observata Diplomatico-Historica de Servis Servorum (Helmaestadii, 1727). The only copy traced is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford University.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    See J. Rousset, Les Intérêts présens (et les prétensions) des puissances de l’Europe fondez sur les traitez conclus depuis la Paix d’Utrecht, etc, 2nd ed. (The Hague, 1736);Google Scholar
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  11. 13.
    P. Pekarskii, Istoriia imp. Akademii nauk v Peterburge (St Petersburg, 1870) vol. I, p. 672.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    F. H. Strube de Piermont, Recherche nouvelle de l’origine et des fondemens du droit de la nature (St Petersburg, 1740).Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    P. N. Berkov, Istoriia russkoi zhurnalistiki XVIII veka (Moscow-Leningrad, 1952) p. 68.Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    Strube de Piermont, Ébauche des loix naturelles et du droit primitif (Amsterdam, 1744).Google Scholar
  15. 29.
    G. S. Fel’dshtein, Glavnye techeniia (note 5 above), pp. 151–2; also see P. A. Tolstoi, Akademicheskii universitet v XVIII stoletii (Zapiski Akademii nauk) annex 3, vol. LI (1885) p. 46.Google Scholar
  16. 30.
    Strube de Piermont, Programma, v kotoroi ravnuiu pol’zu voennoi i sudebnoi nauki pokazyvaet (St Petersburg, 1748).Google Scholar
  17. 31.
    P. Pekarskii, ‘Redaktor, sotrudniki i tsenzura v russkom zhurnale 1755–1764 godov’, Zapiski Akademii nauk, vol. XIII (1868) p. 32. The lectures were to be held four days a week, excluding Wednesdays. Materialy … Akademii nauk (note 6 above), vol. IX, p. 630.Google Scholar
  18. 43.
    K. A. Nevolin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, ed. I. Andreevskii (St Petersburg, 1857) vol. III, pp.28, 32.Google Scholar
  19. 44.
    Modzalevskii , Spisok chlenov (note 8 above), p. 18. Fel’dshtein gives the date as 12 September 1757: Glavnye techeniia (note 5 above), p. 150.Google Scholar
  20. 45.
    Strube de Piermont, Lettres russiennes (St Petersburg, 1760). The Lenin Library copy bears a stamped ex libris with the text: The ‘E. Bibl. Canc. Imp. Com. Nic. de Romanzoff’ and the motto below the shield: ‘von solum armis’. It is this anonymous work which has drawn the attention of modern historians to Strube once again. Lettres russiennes was reprinted with an introduction and postscript, including biographical notes and references to scattered, chiefly incidental, references to Strube, by Corrado Rosso (Pisa, 1978). Also included are Catherine II’s own marginal notes found in a copy of the book.Google Scholar
  21. 46.
    Strube de Piermont, Introduction à la jurisprudence naturelle (St Petersburg, 1767). 400 copies were printed. Another edition appeared in 1774 as Catéchisme de la nature, ou l’on a taché de mettre dans un plus grand jour les fondemens de la Jurisprudence naturelle, de la morale, strictement dite et de la Politique primée, rev. ed. (St Petersburg, 1774). Reviewed in Russische Bibliothek zur Kenntniss des gegenwärtigen Zustandes der Literatur in Russland, vol. VII, no. 5/6 (St Petersburg, 1782) pp. 408–10.Google Scholar
  22. 48.
    Strube de Piermont, Dissertation sur les anciens Russes (1785). The Lenin Library copy is interleaved and extensively annotated with translations of the Latin passages. The Library of the Academy of Sciences possesses a presentation copy from the author to Count P. G. Chernyshev, his former superior. Reviewed in Russische Bibliothek (note 45 above), vol. X, nos. 1–3 (St Petersburg, 1786) pp. 196–200.Google Scholar
  23. 49.
    Strube de Piermont, Rassuzhdenie o drevnikh russiianakh (St Petersburg, 1791), trans. L. Pavlovskii.Google Scholar
  24. 50.
    Details are recorded in the Zapiski rossiiskoi akademii between 6 March 1798 and 31 January 1803. See M. I. Sukhomlinov, Istoriia Rossiiskoi Akademii (Zapiski Akademii nauk) vol. XXVII, annex 1 (1875) vyp. 2, pp. 15, 73, 147, 426, 450.Google Scholar
  25. 52.
    V. S. Ikonnikov, Opyt russkoi istoriografii (Kiev, 1891) vol. I, kn. 2, pp. 889–907. Presumably Pekarskii drew upon these.Google Scholar
  26. 60.
    N. V. Kalachov, Predvaritel’nye iuridicheskie svedeniia dlia polnogo ob’’iasneniia ‘Russkoi Pravdy’ (Moscow, 1846) p. 2.Google Scholar
  27. 68.
    [Strube de Piermont] ‘Abhandlung vom Ursprunge und den Veränderungen der Russischen Gesetze’, Allgemeine Magazin der Natur, Kunst und Wissenschaften, IX (1757) pp. 126–60; lengthy summary in Beylagen zum Neureränderten Russland, vol. I (1769) pp. 329–77.Google Scholar
  28. 70.
    [Strube de Piermont], L’Examen des réflexions d’un patriote allemand du sujet de la garantie de la pragmatique impérial (Amsterdam, 1732).Google Scholar
  29. 71.
    Strube de Piermont, Dissertation sur la raison de guerre et le droit de bienséance (n.p., 1734), reprinted in ibid., Recherche nouvelle (note 14 above), pp. 237–308 and ibid., Ébauche des loix (note 23 above).Google Scholar
  30. 75.
    Strube de Piermont, Lettres russiennes, pp. 197ff, 206, and 250ff. Perry wrote a book entitled The State of Russia under the Present Tsar (London, 1716).Google Scholar
  31. 76.
    The judgement of Western scholars has been no better; see Alexander Vucinich, Science in Russian Culture to 1860 (London, 1965) pp. 88–9: ‘Frederick Strube de Piermont and Peter LeRoy, who entered the Academy with the aid of influential friends, had nothing to do with serious scholarship’.Google Scholar

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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies 1990

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  • W. E. Butler

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