Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas:  jgo.e-reviews 4 (2014), 1 Rezensionen online / Im Auftrag des Instituts für Ost- und Südosteuropastudien in Regensburg herausgegeben von Martin Schulze Wessel und Dietmar Neutatz

Verfasst von: James Cracraft


Galina V. Talina: Vybor puti. Russkoe samoderžavie vtoroj poloviny XVII – pervoj četverti XVIII v. Moskva: Russkij mir, 2010. 445 S. = Pro Patria. Istoriko-politologičeskaja biblioteka. ISBN: 978-5-89577-155-6.

This well organized, handsomely produced volume by Galina Valerevna Talina, a professor at Moscow Pedagogical University and doctor of historical science, is aimed, she tells us up front, at a wider rather than strictly professional audience. She wishes to bring to this readerships attention the extent to which the development of the Russian state under Peter the Great and his successors was at once consistent with, but radically different from, its development in the later seventeenth century, a subject on which she was already a well-published authority. In her own words,This book attempts to view the historical processes of the second half of the seventeenth and first quarter of the eighteenth centuries as equally significant; in other words, to examine in appropriate depth the familiar Petrine reforms through the prism of the states development in the seventeenth century(p. 6). In so doing, she is explicitly critical of the Soviet Marxist approach to Russian history (p. 9) and in effect reasserts the grand tradition of the nationaliststate schoolof the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thus thechoice of pathreferred to in her new books title, as she presents it, was between continuing the states specifically Russian evolution as experienced under Peters immediate predecessors or imposing a radically new model borrowed from contemporary European experience.

The books six solid chapters deal successively with the theory and practice of monarchy, and particularly of absolute monarchy, in Muscovite Russia and contemporary Europe; the operations of the so-called BoyarsDuma in the decades before Peter and then of his new Senate; the evolution of the local organs of government both before and after Peter; the idea of state service as practiced throughout the same period; the development of a regular standing army in Russia in these years; and the relations of church and state from the time of the Moscow patriarchate to that of the St. Petersburg Synod. Copious reference is made passim to the work of older and more recent Russian historians and to the standard printed sources, the latter supplemented by fresh research in the Russian State Archives (RGADA). No foreign historians are cited, doubtless in consideration of the books readers: this is a Russian teacher of Russian history addressing a Russian audience. The focus is firmly on political developments but without neglecting, mindful again of the books intended audience, larger social, cultural, and even moral questions.

On her own stated terms, in this reviewers opinion, Professor Talina succeeds admirably. She cannot be faulted on points of detail nor on analytical grounds. She writes clearly and often boldly about complicated matters but also judiciously and in an appropriately nuanced way. The stark contrast she draws between traditional Muscovite autocracy, sanctioned by custom and religion, and the Petrine absolute monarchy, responsible to nobody but itself, is compelling. So too her concluding suggestion that the peculiarbalanceachieved in Muscovite government between thewill of manas represented by the higher social strata and the monarch and thewill of Godas represented by the church wasdecisively altered in favor of the formerunder Peter (p. 410). Thereafter the newly rationalized, centralized, bureaucratized,super-Europeanstate in Russia, however much it responded to theobjective needs of the time(especially those evoked by war), becameall-consuming and all-inclusive(p. 414). What a legacy for later generations of Russians to build on!

James Cracraft, Chicago, USA

Zitierweise: James Cracraft über: Galina V. Talina: Vybor puti. Russkoe samoderžavie vtoroj poloviny XVII – pervoj četverti XVIII v. Moskva: Russkij mir, 2010. 445 S. = Pro Patria. Istoriko-politologičeskaja biblioteka. ISBN: 978-5-89577-155-6, http://www.dokumente.ios-regensburg.de/JGO/erev/Cracraft_Talina_Vybor_puti.html (Datum des Seitenbesuchs)

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