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The Russian nobility (Russian : дворянствоdvoryanstvo) originated in the 14th century. In 1914 it consisted of approximately 1,900,000 members (about 1.1% of the population).
Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.
Up until the February Revolution of 1917, the noble estates staffed most of the Russian government.
The February Revolution, known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution and sometimes as the March Revolution, was the first of two revolutions which took place in Russia in 1917.
The estates of the realm, or three estates, were the broad orders of social hierarchy used in Christendom from the medieval period to early modern Europe. Different systems for dividing society members into estates developed and evolved over time.
The Russian word for nobility, dvoryanstvo (дворянство), derives from Slavonic dvor (двор), meaning the court of a prince or duke ( kniaz ), and later, of the tsar or emperor. Here, dvor originally referred to servants at the estate of an aristocrat. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, the word dvoryane described the highest rank of gentry, who performed duties at the royal court, lived in it (Moskovskie zhiltsy), or were candidates to it (dvorovye deti boyarskie , vybornye deti boyarskie). A nobleman is called a dvoryanin (plural: dvoryane). Pre-Soviet Russia shared with other countries the concept that nobility connotes a status or social category rather than a title. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the title of the nobleman in Russia gradually became a formal status, rather than a reference to a member of the aristocracy, due to a massive influx of commoners via the Table of ranks. Many descendants of the former ancient Russian aristocracy, including royalty, have changed their formal standing to merchants, burghers, or even peasants, while people descended from serfs (Vladimir Lenin's father) or clergy (ancestry of actress Lyubov Orlova) gained formal nobility.
Tsar, also spelled czar, or tzar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official —but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.
Boyar scions were a rank of Russian gentry that existed from the late 1300s through the 1600s. In the late 1700s—early 1800s descendants of the boyar scions who failed to prove nobility or regain it through the Table of Ranks were enrolled within the social group named odnodvortsy.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
The nobility arose in the 12th and 13th centuries as the lowest part of the feudal military class, which comprised the court of a prince or an important boyar. From the 14th-century land ownership by nobles increased, and by the 17th century, the bulk of feudal lords and the majority of landowners were nobles. The nobles were granted estates out of State lands in return for their service to the Tsar, either for as long as they performed service or for their lifetime. By the 18th century, these estates had become private property. They made up the Landed army (Russian : поместное войско)—the basic military force of Russia. Peter the Great finalized the status of the nobility, while abolishing the boyar title.
Fürst is a German word for a ruler and is also a princely title. Fürsten were, since the Middle Ages, members of the highest nobility who ruled over states of the Holy Roman Empire and later its former territories, below the ruling Kaiser (emperor) or König (king).
Peter the Great, Peter I or Peter Alexeyevich ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May [O.S. 27 April] 1682 until his death in 1725, jointly ruling before 1696 with his elder half-brother, Ivan V. Through a number of successful wars, he expanded the Tsardom into a much larger empire that became a major European power and also laid the groundwork for the Russian navy after capturing ports at Azov and the Baltic Sea. He led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political systems with ones that were modern, scientific, Westernised and based on the Enlightenment. Peter's reforms made a lasting impact on Russia, and many institutions of Russian government trace their origins to his reign. He is also known for founding and developing the city of Saint Petersburg, which remained the capital of Russia until 1917.
The adoption of the fashions, mannerisms, and ideals of Western Europe by the Russian nobility was a gradual process rooted in the strict guidelines of Peter the Great and the educational reforms of Catherine the Great. While cultural westernization was mostly superficial and restricted to court, it coincided with the efforts of Russian autocrats to link Russia to Western Europe in more fundamental ways – socially, economically and politically. However, Russia's existing economic system, which lacked a sizable middle class and which relied heavily on forced labor, proved an insurmountable obstacle to the development of a free market economy. Furthermore, the lower classes (an overwhelming majority of the Russian population) lived virtually isolated from the upper classes and the imperial court. Thus, most of the nobility's “western” tendencies were largely aesthetic and confined to a tiny proportion of the populace.
Western Europe is the region comprising the western part of Europe. Though the term Western Europe is commonly used, there is no commonly agreed-upon definition of the countries that it encompasses.
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great, born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader. She came to power following a coup d'état which she organized—resulting in her husband, Peter III, being overthrown. Under her reign, Russia was revitalized; it grew larger and stronger and was recognized as one of the great powers of Europe. That said, however, she was a usurper of the Russian throne because her son, Paul I, should have naturally been the Tsar following Peter III’s death.
Westernization (US) or Westernisation (UK), also Europeanization/Europeanisation or occidentalization/occidentalisation, is a process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in areas such as industry, technology, law, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, clothing, language, alphabet, religion, philosophy, and values.
As different rulers ascended the throne in the 19th century, each figure brought a different attitude and approach to ruling the nobility. Yet, the cultural impact of the “Greats” – Peter and Catherine – was set in stone. Ironically, by introducing the nobility to political literature from Western Europe, Catherine exposed Russia's autocracy to them as archaic and illiberal. While the nobility was conservative as a whole, a liberal and radical minority remained constant throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, resorting to violence on multiple occasions in order to challenge Russia's traditional political system (see Decembrist Revolt, Narodnaya Volya).
Narodnaya Volya was a 19th-century revolutionary political organization in the Russian Empire which conducted targeted killing of government officials in attempt to promote reforms in the country. The organization declared itself to be a populist movement that succeeded Narodniks. Composed primarily of young revolutionary socialist intellectuals believing in the efficacy of terrorism, Narodnaya Volya emerged in Autumn 1879 from the split of an earlier revolutionary organization called Zemlya i Volya.
Although Peter the Great is considered by many to be the first westernized person of Russia, there were, in fact, contacts between the Muscovite nobility and Western Europe before his reign. Ivan III, starting in 1472, sent numerous agents to Italy to study architecture. Both Michael Romanov (1613–1645) and his son Alexis (1645–1676) invited and sponsored European visitors – mostly military, medical, and building specialists – who came to Moscow in foreign dress, speaking foreign languages.When the boyars began to imitate the westerners in dress and hairstyle, Tsar Alexis in 1675 and then Tsar Feodor in 1680 restricted foreign fashions to distinguish between Russians and outsiders, but these were not effectively enforced until the 1690s.
Peter the Great was, first and foremost, eager to do away with Russia's reputation as an Asiatic land and to propel his new empire onto the political stage of Western Europe. One of the many ways he hoped to achieve this was by changing the upper-class culture; he believed that forcing selected features of western fashion, education, and language onto the nobility would hasten Russia's rise to international prestige. In 1697, he began to send nobles on compulsory trips abroad to England, Holland, and Italy. While the Tsar primarily designed these expeditions for naval training, he also encouraged the noblemen to learn about the arts of the west. Furthermore, Peter prioritized sending Russian natives as opposed to foreign expatriates; he was intent on “breeding” a new nobility that conformed to western customs but represented the Slavic people as a whole. When the travelers returned to Moscow, Peter tested them on their training, insisting on further education for those whose accumulated knowledge was unsatisfactory.By 1724, he had established – for the purpose of scientific study and discovery – the Academy of Sciences, which he modeled after “the ones in Paris, London, Berlin, and other places”.
Peter's westernizing efforts became more radical after 1698 when he returned from his expedition through Europe was known as the Grand Embassy. Upon arriving Peter summoned the nobility to his court and personally shaved almost every beard in the room. In 1705 he decreed a beard tax on all men of rank in Moscow and ordered certain officers to seek out noble beards and shave them on sight. He only allowed peasants, priests, and serfs to retain the ingrained and religious Russian tradition of wearing beards, which the Orthodox populace considered an essential aspect of their duty to convey the image of God. He also reformed the clothing of the nobility, replacing the long-sleeved traditional Muscovite robes with European clothing. Beginning in 1699 the tsar decreed strict dress requirements borrowing from German, Hungarian, French and British styles, fining any noblemen who failed to obey. Peter himself, who usually wore German dress and had a trimmed mustache, acted as a prime example. While the nobility universally followed Peter's fashion preferences at court, they greatly resented these styles, which they saw as blasphemous. Away from St. Petersburg, very few noblemen followed Peter's guidelines and enforcement was lax.
Peter also demanded changes in mannerisms and language among nobles. To supply Russians with a basic set of “proper” morals and habits, he ordered publication of manuals on Western etiquette. The most popular of these was The Honourable Mirror of Youth or A Guide to Social Conduct Gathered from Various Authors, a compilation of rules of conduct from numerous European sources, initially published in St. Petersburg in 1717. He also encouraged the learning of foreign languages especially French, which was the foremost political and intellectual language of Europe at the time. For the nobility, these changes felt even more forced than fashion regulations. As with clothing, there was uniform acceptance of Western mannerisms at court but general disregard for them outside of St. Petersburg. Furthermore, when Westerners visited Peter's court they found the image and personality of the courtiers to appear forced and awkward. Friedrich Christian Weber a representative of Britain commented in 1716 that the nobles “wear the German Dress; but it is easy to observe on many, that they have not been long used to it”.
While none of the rulers in power from 1725 to 1762 focused as strongly on cultural westernization, Peter sparked a transformation that was now unstoppable. Through their education and travels, some members of the nobility began to understand the extent to which Russia lagged behind Western Europe in the complexity of their political and educational systems, their technology and economy. By 1750, the ideas of secularism, skepticism and humanism had reached sects of the elite class, providing some with a new worldview and giving Russia a taste of the Enlightenment, of which they had experienced little. While even the most educated of the nobility still supported the autocracy that upheld the feudal system on which they depended, some considered how to make it more representative and to improve the bureaucracy.
The period between Peter I and Catherine II represents gradual yet significant developments in western culture among the nobility. Tsarina Anna gave many privileges to the nobility. In 1730 she repealed the primogeniture law introduced by Peter the Great allowing the sub-division of estates. In 1736 the age at which nobles had to start service was raised from 15 to 20 and length of service was changed to 25 years instead of life and families with more than one son could keep one to manage the family estate. [ page needed ]In 1726 Catherine I and in 1743 Empress Elizabeth further regulated noble dress in a Western direction. In 1755 also during Elizabeth's reign, advanced secondary schools and the University of Moscow were founded with curricula that included foreign languages, philosophy, medicine and law; the material was chiefly based on imported texts from the west. Most significantly Peter III freed the nobility from obligatory civil and military service in 1762, allowing them to pursue personal interests. While some used this liberty as an excuse to lead lavish lives of leisure, a select group became increasingly educated in Western ideas through schooling, reading, and travel. As before, these changes applied to few and represented a gradual shift in noble identity rather than a sudden or universal one. Marc Raeff in Origins of the Russian Intelligentsia has suggested this was not a noble victory but a sign the state didn't need them as much now that they had plenty of trained officials.
When Catherine II ascended the throne, she quickly made her political and philosophical opinions clear in the “Instruction” of 1767, a lengthy document which she prepared for the nobility, drawing largely from and even plagiarizing ideas from the west, especially those of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The point she emphasized first and foremost was that Russia was a truly European state, and her reforms of the court and education reflect this belief. While Catherine was primarily preoccupied with impressing westerners (especially the philosophers, with whom she corresponded in writing), in doing so she also made significant efforts to educate the nobility and expose them to western philosophy and art. She designed an imperial court in the style of Louis XIV, entertaining the nobility with performances of western theatre and music. She encouraged the understanding of French, German, and English languages so that nobles could read classic, historical, and philosophical literature from the west. For the first time in the history of the Russian court, “intellectual pursuits became fashionable”. When foreigners visited the court, Catherine expected the noblemen and their ladies to flaunt not only their western appearance but also their ability to discuss current events in western languages.
Catherine also made specific reforms in institutional education that pushed the nobility's culture further westward. She based Russian education on that of Austria, importing German textbooks and adopting in 1786 a standardized curriculum to be taught in her newly created public schools.While many members of the lower classes were allowed into these schools, Catherine hoped that they could become educated enough to rise through the meritocratic Table of Ranks and eventually become nobles themselves. Catherine also established the Society for the Translation of Foreign Books, “to bring enlightenment to those Russians who could not read either French or German.” It is clear that, like Peter I, Catherine the Great desired to construct a new nobility, a “new race,” which would both resemble western noblemen and prove knowledgeable in discussions of modern issues. And, according to accounts from foreign visitors, the noblemen did, in fact, resemble those of Western Europe in their dress, topics of discussion, and taste in literature and performance.
She also gave away 66,000 serfs in 1762–72, 202,000 in 1773–93, and 100,000 in one day: 18 August 1795.Thus she was able to bind the nobility to herself. From 1782, a kind of uniform was introduced for civilian nobles called uniform of civilian service or simply civilian uniform. The uniform prescribed colors that depended on the territory. The uniform was required at the places of service, at the Court, and at other important public places. The privileges of the nobility were fixed and were legally codified in 1785 in the Charter to the Gentry. The Charter introduced an organization of the nobility: every province ( guberniya ) and district ( uyezd ) had an Assembly of Nobility. The chair of an assembly was called Province/District Marshal of Nobility. In 1831 Nicholas I restricted the assembly votes to those with over 100 serfs, leaving 21,916 voters.
By 1805 the various ranks of the nobility had become confused, as reflected in War and Peace. In the era of the Napoleonic Wars, there were counts who were wealthier and more important than princes and noble families whose wealth had been dissipated partly through lack of primogeniture, partly through extravagance and due to poor estate-management. Young noblemen served in the military but did not thereby acquire new landed estates. Tolstoy reported later improvements: some nobles paid more attention to estate management, and some, like Andrey Bolkonsky, freed their serfs even before the tsar did so in 1861.Of Russia's nobles, 62.8% were szlachta from the nine western gubernii in 1858 and still 46.1% in 1897.
|No. of serfs||1777 (%)||1859 (%)|
Obrok or cash rent was most common in the north while barshchina or labor rent was found mainly in the southern Black Earth Region. In the reign of Nicholas I (1825–1855) the latter brought three times the income of cash rent (though this needed less administration).In 1798 Ukrainian landlords were banned from selling serfs separately from land. In 1841 landless nobles were banned also.
The nobility was too weak to oppose the Emancipation reform of 1861. In 1858, three million serfs were held by 1,400 landlords (1.4%) while 2 million by 79,000 (78%).In 1820 a fifth of the serfs were mortgaged, half by 1842. By 1859, a third of nobles' estates and two-thirds of their serfs were mortgaged to noble banks or to the state. The nobility was also weakened by the scattering of their estates, lack of primogeniture and the high turnover and mobility from estate to estate.
|Year||% nobles in landowner families|
After the peasant reform of 1861 the economic position of the nobility weakened. The influence of the nobility was further reduced by the new law statutes of 1864, which repealed their right of electing law officer. The reform of the police in 1862 limited the landowners' authority locally, and the establishment of all-estate Zemstvo local government did away with the exclusive influence of nobility in local self-government.
These changes occurred despite the nobles keeping nearly all the meadows and forests and having their debts paid by the state, while the ex-serfs paid 34% over the market price for the shrunken plots they kept. This figure was 90% in the northern regions, 20% in the black-earth region but zero in the Polish provinces. In 1857, 6.79% of serfs were domestic, landless servants who stayed landless after 1861. 1⁄5 of their land in Tiflis province, 1⁄3 in Kutaisi province. These redemption payments were not abolished till January 1, 1907.Only Polish and Romanian domestic serfs got land. Ninety percent of the serfs who got larger plots lived in the eight ex-Polish provinces where the Tsar wanted to weaken the Szlachta. The other 10% lived in Astrakhan and in the barren north. In the whole Empire, peasant land declined 4.1% - 13.3% outside the ex-Polish zone and 23.3% in the 16 black-earth provinces. Georgia's serfs suffered the loss of
The influx of New World grain caused a slump in grain prices, forcing the peasants to farm more land. At the same time, despite their efficiency, large peasant households split up (from 9.5 to 6.8 persons per household in central Russia, 1861–1884).The resulting land hunger increased prices 7-fold and made it easier for nobles to sell or rent land rather than farm it themselves. From 1861 to 1900 40% of noble land was sold to peasants (70% of this went to the Commune and by 1900 two thirds of the nobles' arable land was rented to the peasantry. 1900–1914, over 20% of remaining noble land was sold but only 3% of the 155 estates over 50,000 destiny. According to the 1897 census, 71% of the top 4 ranks of the civil service were nobles. But in the civil service as a whole, noble membership declined from 49.8% in 1755 to 43.7% in the 1850s and to 30.7% in 1897. There were 1.2 million nobles, about 1% of the population (8% in Poland; compare with 4% in Hungary and 1 to 1.5% in France). Their military influence waned: in the Crimean War 90% of officers were noble, by 1913 the proportion had sunk to 50%. They lived increasingly away from their estates: in 1858 only 15 to 20% of Russian nobles lived in cities, by 1897 it was 47.2%.
|Year||% 1861 noble land still in their control|
By 1904 1⁄3 of noble land was mortgaged to the noble bank. During the 1905 Russian Revolution 3,000 manors were burnt (15% of the total).
|Year||Noble land (desiatinas)|
The Russian imperial nobility was multi-ethnic. Native non-Russians such as the Poles, Georgians, Lithuanians, Tatars, and Germans formed an important segment of the noble estate. According to the 1897 census, only 0.87% of Russians were classified as hereditary nobles versus 5.29% of Georgians and 4.41% of Poles, followed by Lithuanians, Tatars, Azerbaijanis, and Germans. After the abolition of serfdom, the non-Russian nobility, with the exception of Finland, lost their special status. Later, many of the impoverished or déclassé Polish and Georgian nobles became leaders of nationalist and radical political movements, including Bolshevism.
After the October Revolution of 1917, the new Soviet government legally abolished all classes of nobility. Many members of the Russian nobility who fled Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution played a significant role in the White Emigre communities which settled in Europe, in North America, and in other parts of the world. In the 1920s and 1930s, several Russian nobility associations were established outside Russia, including groups in France, Belgium, and the United States. In New York, the Russian Nobility Association in America, was founded in 1938. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 interest among Russians in the role that the Russian nobility played in the historical and cultural development of Russia has grown.[ citation needed ]
Nobility was transferred by inheritance or was bestowed by a fount of honour, i.e. the sovereign of the Russian Empire, and was typically ranked as per below, with those of the highest noble prestige ranked first.
Unlike the ancient nobility, which was exclusively hereditary, the remaining classes of nobility could be acquired.
A newly designated noble was usually entitled to landownership. A loss of land did not automatically mean loss of nobility. In later Imperial Russia, higher ranks of state service (see Table of Ranks) were automatically granted nobility, not necessarily associated with land ownership.
Russian did not employ a nobiliary particle before a surname (as von in German or de in French), but Russian noblemen were accorded an official salutation, or style, that varied by rank: your high born (Russian : ваше высокородие), your high well born (Russian : ваше высокоблагородие), your well born (Russian : ваше благородие), etc. [ citation needed ]
Titled nobility (Russian : титулованное дворянство) was the highest category: those who had titles such as prince, count and baron. The latter two titles were introduced by Peter the Great. A baron or count could be either proprietary (actual) ( владетельный (действительный))—i.e., who owned land in the Russian Empire—or titular (титулярный), i.e., only endowed with a rank or title.
Hereditary nobility (Russian : потомственное дворянство) was transferred to wife, children, and further direct legal descendants along the male (agnatic) line. In exceptional cases, the emperor could transfer nobility along indirect or female lines, e.g., to preserve a notable family name.
Personal nobility (Russian : личное дворянство) could, for instance, be acquired by admission to orders of knighthood of the Russian Empire. It was transferable only to the wife.
Estateless nobility (Russian : беспоместное дворянство) was nobility acquired by state service, but without a grant of land.
In addition, the ancient nobility (Russian : Древнее дворянство) was recognised, descendants of Rurik, Gediminas and historical boyars and knyazes, e.g., the Shuyskies, Galitzins, Naryshkins, Khilkoffs, Gorchakovs, Belosselsky-Belozerskys and Chelyadnins.
Russian nobility possessed the following privileges:
The Russian Tsardom came into being around the Grand Duchy of Moscow by the incorporation of various political entities surrounding it. After Peter the Great returned from his grand tour he implemented reforms aimed at westernization of his realm, including officially adopting the title of Emperor of All Russia, preceding the traditional Slavic title of Tsar. Peter and his successors also streamlined the stratification of the Russian nobility, adopting European-style titles such as Count and Baron and discontinuing the archaic titles of Boyars. The Russian system of noble titles evolved into its final form:
|Title||Crown||Application||Style of Address|
| Emperor of All Russia |
His Imperial Majesty The Lord Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia
(Его Императорское Величество Государь Император и Самодержец Всероссийский)
|The ruler of the Russian Empire and its constituent entities.||Your Imperial Majesty |
(Ваше Императорское Величество)
| Tsesarevich |
His Imperial Highness The Lord Heir Tsesarevich and Grand Duke
(Его Императорское Высочество Государь Наследник Цесаревич и Великий Князь) *
|Heir apparent of the Russian Empire.||Your Imperial Highness |
(Ваше Императорское Высочество)
| Grand Duke |
His Imperial Highness The Grand Duke
(Его Императорское Высочество Великий Князь) *
|Descendants of the House of Romanov. After the introduction of the title Prince of Blood Imperial the title of Grand Duke was reserved for||Your Imperial Highness |
(Ваше Императорское Высочество)
|Prince of the Blood Imperial|
His Highness the Prince Firstname Patronymic of the Blood Imperial
(Его Высочество Князь Крови Императорской)
Introduced by Alexander III on January 24, 1885 in order to reduce the number of members of the House of Romanov titled Grand Dukes (as each Grand Duke received 200,000 rubles annually from the state budget and enjoyed other high privileges). The male-line great-grandchildren of the Romanov emperors and their male-line descendants were titled Prince of the Blood Imperial to distinguish them from those of the noble Russian families titled simply Prince. *
|Your Highness |
| Prince |
His Serenity The Prince
(Его Сиятельство Князь) *
|List of Russian princely families||Your Serenity |
| Duke |
His Highness the Duke
(Его Светлость Герцог) **
|Applied to some French and German relatives of the Romanov dynasty. |
Also used by dukes in Russian service,[ citation needed ] which were bestowed with ducal dignity by other monarchs and therefore did not officially belong to the Russian nobility.
|Your Grace |
| Marquis |
His Serenity The Marquis
(Его Сиятельство Маркиз)
|Used by marquises residing in Russia and/or in Russian service,[ citation needed ] which were bestowed with marquisal dignity by other monarchs and therefore technically did not belong to the Russian nobility.||Your Serenity |
| Count |
His Serenity the Count
(Его Сиятельство Граф)
|Your Serenity |
| Baron |
The Well Born Baron
(Его Благородие Барон)
|There were landed and landless barons in the Russian Empire.||The Well Born |
|Dvoryanin / Pomeshchik||The lowest ranks of hereditary nobility. Dvoryanin comes from dvor (the court of a ruler or a high nobleman). Originally these were free commoners in the service of noblemen who also had serfs. Pomeshchiks were the landed gentry, treated as nobility due to their wealth.||Your Well Birth |
|Baltic knights||Baltic Noble Corporations of Courland, Livonia, Estonia, and Oesel (Ösel) were medieval fiefdoms formed by German nobles in the 13th century in vassalage to the Teutonic Knights or Denmark in modern Latvia and Estonia. The territories continued to have semi-autonomous status from 16th to early 20th century under Swedish and Russian rule. |
The dukes, princes, counts, and barons of Courlandish, Livonian, Estonian and Oesel extraction were gradually absorbed into the Russian nobility due to their services to the realm. The Russian medieval equivalent of knights (the armored boyars, the vityazes) was ultimately abolished by the reforms of Peter the Great. The ethnically German knights of Baltic extraction retained their social prominence and equalled the Russian Pomeshchiks due to their wealth and lands.
|Your Well Birth |
Hereditary nobility could be achieved in the following ways: 1) by Imperial grant to individuals or families; 2) by attaining a certain military or civil officer's rank while in active service; 3) by being awarded an order of chivalry of the Russian Empire.
Between 1722 and 1845 hereditary nobility was given to military officers who achieved the 14th rank of ensign, to civil servants who achieved the 8th rank of Collegiate Assessor and to any person who was awarded any order of the Russian Empire (since 1831 года – except the Polish order of Virtuti Militari).
Between 1845 and 1856 hereditary nobility was given to military officers who achieved the 8th rank of major/captain 3rd rank, to civil servants who achieved the 5th rank of State Counsellor and to any person who was awarded the Order of Saint George or the Order of Saint Vladimir of any class, or any order of the Russian Empire of the first class.
From 1856 to 1917 hereditary nobility was given to military officers who achieved the 6th rank of colonel/captain 1st rank, to civil servants who achieved the 4th rank of Active State Councellor and to any person who was awarded the Order of Saint George of any class or the Order of Saint Vladimir of any class (since 1900 - of the third class or higher), or any order of the Russian Empire of the first class.
Personal nobility could be acquired in the following ways: 1) by Imperial grant; 2) by attaining the 14th military rank of ensign or the 9th civil rank of Titular Councillor; 3) by being awarded the orders of the Russian Empire unless those gave hereditary nobility; except merchants (unless those were awarded between 1826 and 1832), who acquired honorary citizenship instead. Personal nobility was not inherited by children but was shared by the recipient's wife.
Count (Male), or Countess (Female), is a historical title of nobility in certain European countries, varying in relative status, generally of middling rank in the hierarchy of nobility. The etymologically related English term, "county" denoted the land owned by a count. Equivalents of the rank of count exist or have existed in the nobility structures of some non-European countries, such as hakushaku during the Japanese Imperial era.
Graf (male) or Gräfin (female) is a historical title of the German nobility, usually translated as "count". Considered to be intermediate among noble ranks, the title is often treated as equivalent to the British title of "earl".
Knyaz or knez is a historical Slavic title, used both as a royal and noble title in different times of history and different ancient Slavic lands. It is usually translated into English as prince, duke or count, depending on specific historical context and the potentially known Latin equivalents of the title for each bearer of the name. In Latin sources the title is usually translated as comes or princeps, but the word was originally derived from the Proto-Germanic *kuningaz (king).
The Table of Ranks was a formal list of positions and ranks in the military, government, and court of Imperial Russia. Peter the Great introduced the system in 1722 while engaged in a struggle with the existing hereditary nobility, or boyars. The Table of Ranks was formally abolished on 11 November 1917 by the newly established Bolshevik government.
Traditional rank amongst European royalty, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and among geographic regions, the following is a reasonably comprehensive list that provides information on both general ranks and specific differences.
Grandee is an official aristocratic title conferred on some Spanish nobility and, to a lesser extent, Portuguese nobility. Holders of this dignity enjoyed similar privileges to those of the peerage of France during the Ancien Régime, but unlike in Great Britain, they were not organised into political groupings. "Grandee of Spain" is the highest dignity of nobility in all of Europe, due to its privileges having been greater than those of other similar European dignities, such as the peers of France or the peers of Great Britain. All Dukedoms are automatically attached to a Grandeeship yet only a few Marquessates, Countships, Viscountcies, Baronies and Lordships have the distinction. A single person can be a Grandee of Spain multiple times, as Grandeeships are attached, with the exception of a few cases, to a title and not an individual. Consequently, nobles in Spain with more than one title, most notably the Duchess of Medinaceli and the Duke of Alba, are Grandees 10 and 9 times respectively.
The Hungarian nobility consisted of a privileged group of people, most of whom owned landed property, in the Kingdom of Hungary. Initially, a diverse category of people were mentioned as noblemen, but from the late 12th century only the high-ranking royal officials were regarded nobles. Most aristocrats claimed a late-9th-century Magyar leader for their ancestor; others were descended from foreign knights; and local Slavic chiefs were also integrated in the nobility. Less illustrious individuals, known as castle warriors, also held landed property and served in the royal army. Most privileged laymen called themselves royal servants to emphasize their direct contact to the monarchs from the 1170s. The Golden Bull of 1222 enacted their liberties, especially their tax-exemption and the limitation of their military obligations. From the 1220s, the royal servants were associated with the nobility and the highest-ranking officials were known as barons of the realm. Only those who owned allods – lands free of obligations – were regarded true noblemen, but other privileged groups of landowners, known as conditional nobles, also existed.
The term serf, in the sense of an unfree peasant of the Russian Empire, is the usual translation of krepostnoi krestyanin and stands for an unfree person who, unlike a slave, can be sold only with the land he or she is "attached" to. Historic legal documents of the epoch, such as Russkaya Pravda, distinguished several degrees of feudal dependency of peasants.
Ennoblement is the conferring of nobility—the induction of an individual into the noble class. Currently only a few kingdoms still grant nobility to people among them Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Vatican. Depending on time and region, various laws have governed who could be ennobled and how. Typically, nobility was conferred on individuals who had assisted the sovereign. In some countries, this degenerated into the buying of patents of nobility, whereby rich commoners could purchase a title of nobility.
The French nobility was a privileged social class in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period to the revolution in 1790. The nobility was revived in 1805 with limited rights as a titled elite class from the First Empire to the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848, when all privileges were abolished for good. Hereditary titles, without privileges, continued to be granted until the Second Empire fell in 1870. They survive among their descendants as a social convention and as part of the legal name of the corresponding individuals.
The government reforms of Peter I aimed to modernize the Tsardom of Russia based on Western and Central European models.
The Finnish nobility was historically a privileged class in Finland, deriving from its period as part of Sweden and the Russian Empire. Noble families and their descendants are still a part of Finnish republican society, but except for the titles themselves, no longer retain any specific or granted privileges. A majority of Finnish nobles have traditionally been Swedish-speakers using their titles mostly in Swedish. The Finnish nobility today has some 6,000 male and female members.
The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.
Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.
Imperial Count was a title in the Holy Roman Empire. In the medieval era, it was used exclusively to designate the holder of an imperial county, that is, a fief held directly (immediately) from the emperor, rather than from a prince who was a vassal of the emperor or of another sovereign, such as a duke or prince-elector. These imperial counts sat on one of the four "benches" of Counts, whereat each exercised a fractional vote in the Imperial Diet until 1806.
Russian Serf Theatre refers to theatrical productions performed by serfs for their owners.