Peter the Great was certainly a man of directness. Whether it was his reforms to westernize Russia or slaughtering those who opposed him, it was his way, or the highway. Through his reforms, the trend of servitude to the state for the sake of westernizing sticks out like a sore thumb. Peter enforced an education requirement for rights, while it seems harsh and that those rights should be unalienable, the education would teach the men to serve the state. These services were often directed towards progress and advancing the country towards what Peter wanted. He wanted people to have the same desire for progress that he had. “Peter wanted for Russia an elite composed of individuals capable of taking an active role in transforming society.” (Kaiser 247) He was such a passionate and powerful figure that he seized Russia with the iron bridle and dragged her with him to wherever he thought was best.
Peter’s desire to westernize was portrayed in many different ways, but through self portraits and statues, he shows a very clear image of how people should look. The Cap of Monomakh and emphasis on the Church was gone, in it’s place was well trimmed facial hair and clothing that would appear in a western European court.
His directness in getting what he wanted shines through in his Table of Rank. Peter established a hierarchy in the military and civil service that allowed him to give out rewards for serving the state. It was a way to undermine boyars, similar to how Ivan gave out control in the appanage system. By their way of achieving rank through the actions of Peter, they were more loyal to him. People could now go and achieve higher stations in society by serving the state. This new nobility could be passed down hereditarily as well, adding even more incentive to give one’s life to the state. (Kaiser 229) The Chin system allows for Peter to have nobility that are dedicated to serving the state rather while at the same time serving their own personal interests. He brilliantly combines their personal interests with the path to achieving higher levels of nobility.
How effective was the Table of Rank, and did it the newer nobility have any authority in society?
Daniel H. Kaiser, and Gary Marker. Reinterpreting Russian History: Readings, 860-1860’s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.