How Autocratic were the 18th c Essay
How absolute were the 18th Century Tsars?
When asking how absolute a monarch is, we need to pay attention to the groups of people that surround that monarch. The aristocracy, the church and the army all played an important part in the running of an 18th century state, and without the support of these powerful elites, it is arguable whether or not the monarch in question would have had the opportunity to be absolute at all.
At the beginning of the 18th Century Tsar Peter the Great was in power and consolidating his reputation.Whilst growing up Peter had been greatly influenced by Western ideas and believed that success for Russia lay in opening up to the West. Peter was thefirst Tsar to venture into the west and was thus convinced of Russia's backwardness. His strengths lay in foreign policy, and the expansion Russia experienced due to this. Peter introduced a number of reforms to Russia that were aimed at changingevery aspect of life.The role of the nobility in Russia under Peter was enlarged and modernised, he stressed the importance of noble status wresting on indivual merit rather than hereditary nobility. Although a table of stamps was introduced older nobles whose families had been so for more than 100 years remained their hereditary titles. It must be remembered that Peter was reliant upon the nobility for their state service in administration and bureaucracy, and to provide military recruits. Under Peter, serfs were treated badly and were used as a fixed source of taxes for the state. Serfs also were recruited into the state army to keep up the supply of men. It was Peters decision to tie the peasants to the noble rather than the land, and this decision was made as a compensation for the nobles service to the state. This meant that the burden of taxation almost wholly fell upon the peasantry as nobility were exempt from paying taxes. By the end of Peters reign it could be considered that Russia was more absoluti…