Except for some minor digressions, the author follows all the requirements stipulated in professor Qualls’ rubric. Most importantly, the paper reflects the topic of the research providing detailed and nuanced answers to the “Why?” and “How?” questions posed within the broader subject of the challenge behind bringing order into Russian eighteenth-century society. Why was order a priority?- It was necessary “to strengthen Russia’s international presence and to pacify conflict within and regulate the daily lives of the nobility and townspeople.” How did the Russian reformist monarchs of the eighteenth century cope with this challenging task? – “Peter the Great and Catherine the Great stratified and expanded governmental roles…” From the thesis to the conclusion the main ideas of the paper are clear, logical are therefore easy to follow.
The thesis, as well as the topic sentences are certainly controvertible, they can spark up a heated discussion, even an argument. I personally do not agree with parts of the thesis, or some of the statements throughout the paper, but see it as a positive feature, since it presents the position of the author and leads to a fruitful discussion. A simple example is the first topic sentence : “Peter’s solidified the stratification of nobles as part of his greater aim to centralize power throughout Russia.” Contrary to the author’s opinion, The Table of Ranks did not strive “to create harmony within the nobility.” Based on the novel idea of earning the noble status by merit through honorable service, the Table of Ranks was a challenge to nobility. It gave an opportunity to the lower classes to climb the ladder to level eight and above and become part of nobility. Service to the state deserved the highest praise, with Peter the Great being the most dedicated servant to his beloved Russia. So, the Table of Ranks was not about nobility (only levels eight and above out of 14 levels included nobility), or about “harmony within the nobility,” it was about service to the state and stratifying people by merit. This was Peter’s way to bring order into Russian social structure, get a better control of it and thus centralize his power as an absolute monarch.
I applaud the author’s analysis of Catherine the Great’s statute on provincial administration. I gained a better understanding of this important document through its detailed explanation based on clear references to the primary source.