Respectable Servitors, Obedient Men, and the Autocracy’s Administrative Ideal

  • Rebecca Friedman


In the 1835 ‘Instructions to the University Student Inspector,’ the Russian university administration defined its educational priorities:

A good moral sense for student youth is the most loyal and singular pledge [necessary] not only for success in studies, but also for the achievement of the Government’s goals in education: to be true sons of the Church, faithful servants of the Throne, and useful citizens of the Fatherland.3


State Student Chief Inspector Educational District Civilize Mission Disciplinary Code 
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  1. 2.
    Konstantin Aksakov, Vospominaniia studentchestva (St Petersburg: ‘Ogni,’ 1910), 11.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Historians who emphasize the repressive nature of Nicholaevan educational policy include: Allen Sinel, The Classroom and the Chancellery: State Educational Reform in Russia under Count Dmitry Tolstoi (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  4. 5.
    When Alexander I came to power in 1801, he set about the ambitious goal of reforming the autocratic administration; for this he knew he would need cadres of educated men to carry out his ambitious plans. Marc Raeff explores the importance of education for the state in his essay in Interpreting Imperial Russia: Education, Culture and Society in Tsarist Russia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979).Google Scholar
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    Walter Pinter, ‘Evolution of Civil Officialdom, 1755–1855.’ In Russian Officialdom: The Bureaucratization of Russian Society From the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), 209. The 1804 Kazan’ and Kharkov University statutes were identical to the Moscow statute (St Petersburg University was not officially established until 1819). See Sbornik rasporiazhenii po ministerstva narodnogo prosveshcheniia, vol. 1 (St Petersburg, 1866), 295–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  9. 8.
    In 1722, after studying foreign bureaucracies, Peter the Great introduced the Table of Ranks to Russia. The Table arranged rank in the three branches of service — military, civil, and court — into 14 levels. In theory, every nobleman and commoner, regardless of social position, could work his way up the ladder from rank 14 to the top (although they would have had different starting points). The system lasted until 1917. Richard S. Wortman, The Development of a Russian Legal Consciousness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), 48;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. and Daniel R. Brower, Training the Nihilists: Education and Radicalism in Tsarist Russia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975), 35. Spravnitel’naia tablitsa ustavov un-tov: 1884, 1863, 1835, 1804 (St Petersburg, 1901);Google Scholar
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    There is a discussion of Kazan’ students’ bad behavior in James T. Flynn, ‘Magnitskii’s Purge of Kazan’ University: A Case Study in the uses of Reaction in 19th-century Russia,’ Journal of Modern History 43, no. 4 (December 1971): 598–614. As Flynn explains, student disciplinary troubles became so widespread that in 1816 the faculty protested against students’ unruly behavior and also complained to the central administrative authorities that they could not control the students.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    There is a discussion of the changing relationship among autocracy, university, professors, and students in the years after Nicholas’s death in Hamburg, Boris Chicherin and Early Russian Liberalism, especially 217–24. See also Daniel Brower, Training the Nihilists: Education and Radicalism in Tsarist Russia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975).Google Scholar
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    It is interesting to note, though that students were not considered entirely released from their class until they had successfully completed a university course. On this see James T. Flynn, ‘Tuition and Social Class in the Russian Universities: S. S. Uvarov and “Reaction” in the Russia of Nicholas I,’ Slavic Review 35, no. 2 (June 1976): 234–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Borozdin provides the figures in ‘Universitety v Rossii,’ 359. The 1840 and 1850 figures for Kazan’ University are cited from M. K. Korbut Kazan’skii gosudarstvennyi universitet za 125 let 1804/05–1929/30 I (Kazan’, 1930), 70.Google Scholar
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    F. I. Buslaev, Moi vospominaniia Akademika F. I. Buslaeva (Moscow, 1897), 7–9. On dormitory conditions in Moscow, see also Istoriia moskovskogo universiteta, 1755–1955 (Moscow, 1955), 206.Google Scholar
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    On the question of student socio-economic status, see also James Flynn, ‘Tuition and Social Class in the Russian Universities: S. S. Uvarov and the “Reaction” in the Russia of Nicholas I,’ Slavic Review 35, no. 2 (June 1976): 232–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Both authors described their experiences in their memoirs: Boris Chicherin, Vospominaniia B. N. Chicherina (Moscow: Moscow University Press, 1991);Google Scholar
  25. and Alexander Herzen, My Past and Thoughts (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973).Google Scholar
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    This is noted in Richard Wortman, Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy, vol. I (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), 311.Google Scholar
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    He appointed his brother Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich to lead the Corps. This is discussed in Leonid Alekseevich Ushakov, ‘Korpusnoe vospitanie pri imperatore Nikolai I,’ Golos minuvshago 6 (June 1915): 90–133.Google Scholar
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    John Tosh, A Man’s Place: Masculinity and the Middle-class Home in Victorian England (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999),Google Scholar
  31. Robert A. Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993);Google Scholar
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    I have borrowed the term ‘administrative state’ from Laura Engelstein, ‘Combined Underdevelopment: Discipline and the Law in Imperial and Soviet Russia,’ American Historical Review 98 no. 2 (April 1993): 338–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Rebecca Friedman 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Friedman
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida International UniversityUSA

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