Reforming Tsars in 18th Century Russia

In Cynthia Whittaker’s The Reforming Tsar: the Redefinition of Autocratic Duty in Eighteenth-Century Russia, she discusses the idea of the reforming tsar. She specifically explores how this idea shaped the Romanov dynasty, the Russian people, and the emerging country of Russia during the Eighteenth Century. Peter the Great created the idea of the reforming tsar through his reshaping of Russia into an innovative country with a strong European influence. After his death later Tsars began to take on the idea of the reforming Tsar because the people of Russia saw Peter’s reign as successful.… Read the rest here

Reforming Tsars, Good Tsars, and Tsars in General

Cynthia H. Whittaker talked about how a “good tsar” often gets confused with a “reforming tsar,” and how it may be best to think of someone like Peter the Great as a “reforming tsar.” She seems to re-message and re-package how we think of tsars in a way that we should think of good ones not as “good” but as “reformers.”

Peter the Great Pic

Peter the Great, who is defined by some as an example of a “good” or “reforming” tsar.

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Peter the Great’s top-down reforms

Peter the Great sought to create a nuanced hierarchy of the Russian population. This goal is evident in his system of ranks and orders, which outlines military grades and created a new basis for determining social status. The system represents Peter’s efforts for top-down modernization of his population: he believed that by catering to the needs of the elite classes and bringing them up to pace with Western Europe, he would create a class of leaders that would then bring change to the common and peasant classes.… Read the rest here

Peter The Great

Peter the Great was a formidable leader, creating an era of heavy changes in Russia as it began to Westernize through his multiple reforms. However, the majority of his reforms tend to focus on social hierarchy and importance of having or obtaining a title for oneself. For example, the Table of Ranks “expressed new definitions of nobility and opened up new avenues of achieving it”1 in order to suppress the boyars and other nobility from the previous years.… Read the rest here

Dead or Alive, You’re Coming with Me

As Peter the Great tries to westernize Russia, he enacts many reforms that follow a similar pattern.  One pattern that I was able to discern from the readings was that each reform had a part in limiting the power of the church or Boyars.  The church is seen to be limited with the role of priests.  To become a priest you must be taught by a bishop and formally trained.  A person cannot just decide to be a priest because he wants to reap the benefits of the position.  Read the rest here

Cynthia Whittaker and the Reforming Tsar

In her article “The Reforming Tsar: The Redefinition of Autocratic Duty in Eighteenth Century Russia” published in Slavic Review in 1992, Cynthia Whittaker claims that the reign of Peter the Great and his reforms led to an era of new rulers with a new mentality and aim of becoming a “reforming tsar” instead a “good tsar.”

Overall, this is a reflection of how Peter’s reign changed rule in Russia.  Firstly, the transition from “good tsar” to “reforming tsar” marks how Peter transitioned Russia from a medieval era to a modern one.  … Read the rest here

Cynthia Whittaker’s “The Reforming Tsar”

Cynthia Whittaker explores how the autocracy changed their own definition of a traditional ruling body into that of one that changes and reforms Russia.  Whittaker claims that the fact that the Russian Autocracy was one of reformist ideals was one of the major reasons why autocracy was allowed to be the predominant governing body for over a century.

Whittaker begins her argument stating that the reforms that the autocracy put in place were “dynamic and progressive” in nature.  … Read the rest here

Whittaker- The Dual Autocratic Identity

Whittaker’s thesis and stance on the reforming of Russia encompasses the two mentalities of Russia: the conservative history under autocracies and the desire for progress. She mentions that because Russians had only ever truly been governed under a strong, authoritarian leadership that there was an expectation of that way of societal structure (as nothing else had ever been implemented) where the state always came before the individual. However, she importantly notes the contrast that was brought about by reforming tsars.… Read the rest here

Peter the Great

Peter the Great strived to shape Russia into a systematic state focused on gaining nationalism through order. Inn 1722 after the Table of Ranks was established to clearly define roles in society however, Peter’s intentions never really formed. Russia’s theme of orderliness is exemplified here. Whether it be house-hold as seen in Domonstroi or general customary law such as the Pravda Russkaia; Russia has always been concerned with the well being of citizens and this was reinforced by the idea of orderliness.… Read the rest here

Peter the Reformer

In general, Peter’s desire to modernize and Europeanize Russia led him to enact changes too quickly without enough thought of the effects on the peasantry. By focusing only on the upper classes of society, Peter created an even sharper division between the elites and the general population. While the elites were forced to embrace modern practices and assimilate these into everyday life, the general population had no understanding of why changes were being enacted, and found the changes to be irrelevant to them.… Read the rest here