Long way to "centralization": early modern Russian state and its features

Author(s):  V.V. Penskoy, Dr., associate Professor, Belgorod National Research University, Belgorod, Russia, penskoy@bsu.edu.ru

L.A. Pozharova, candidate of Sciences, no, Belgorod State University, Belgorod, Russia, pozharova@bsu.edu.ru

V.Y. Turanin, Dr., Prof., Belgorod National Research University, Belgorod , Russia, Turanin@bsu.edu.ru

Issue:  Volume 45, № 1

Rubric:  Actual Problems of Legal Regulation

Annotation:  The features of the processes of “centralization” and the formation of power institutions and structures in Russia of the early New Age (2nd half of the 15th - beginning of the 17th centuries) have long been the subject of lively discussions between historians. In the 2nd half of the last century, a stable historiographic tradition was finally formed. It proceeds from the fact that the early-modern Russian state was "centralized", unified in administrative and legal relations, with the strong power of the monarch. Recently, however, this concept has been criticized and gradually eroded. In the article, the authors, relying on the latest developments in Russian and foreign historiography, propose to look at the essence of the early-modern Russian state from the inside. According to the authors, the Russian state of this time was distinguished from its predecessors by greater internal consolidation. However, it cannot be called truly "centralized." It developed in an evolutionary way, based on tradition and custom. As a result, the Russian state retained many remnants of the past in the political, legal, administrative and other fields. These remnants imposed certain serious restrictions on the supreme power and prevented the rapid improvement and expansion of the power infrastructure. Weak institutionally, early modern Russian state was forced to rely on the support of society and coordinate its actions and desires with its interests. According to the authors, by the end of the early New Age, the processes of “centralization” in Russia were still far from complete.

Keywords:  Early Modern, political regime, “composite” state, centralization, autocracy, bureaucracy, Russian state, Ivan the Terrible.

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