Rus Articles Journal

Russian nobility. How in the country the highest estate was formed? Part 1

Recently interest in nobility considerably increased in Russia and some other states which are in the former Soviet Union . Any more nobody is surprised by noble societies and clubs which not only involve descendants of the former noblemen in the ranks, but also issue noble diplomas and make the coats of arms to people whose ancestors never belonged to the highest estate of the Russian Empire.

Emergence of the communities uniting descendants of noble childbirth, probably, reasonably also corresponds to realities of our time. But some noble societies and their heads assumed the right of construction in the nobility that, to put it mildly, looks very strange. Historically it developed that in Russia the nobility was formed according to accurate criteria, and the right of personal construction in noble advantage belonged only to the monarch. Also activity of noble societies which were created in each province was legislatively regulated.

It is considered that in general process of formation of the Russian nobility and legislative providing all parties of its activity came to the end only in the second half of the 18th century during Catherine II`s reign.

The term “nobility“ - very dreven, in Russia it arose at the end of the 12th century, but then it designated only personally free sluzhily people who were carrying out various functions at court of large feudal lords (princes and boyars). Originally noblemen received a salary or contents, forms which they could be various for the service. Since the 13th century of the certain noblemen taking high places in court hierarchy began to allocate with the earth - estates which became for them the main source of obtaining the income for service.

Originally “only noblemen, functions carrying out various economic, administrative, judicial, etc. served from the earth“. The team remained on full providing from the prince or the boyar. But with gradually solid allotments (in temporary or continuous possession) the team top began to be allocated, having practically merged with historical nobility. And then allotments in temporary use for service also other military sluzhily people began to receive. They could not descend them, but in case of revenues to service of the son (the grandson, the nephew) this earth could pass to it.

Gradually in Russia there was a system at which sluzhily people were divided into two parts:

- sluzhily people “on the fatherland“, i.e. employees on a hereditary class duty who received earth plots for the service - estates the nobility in its modern understanding also was formed of them;

- sluzhily people “on the device“ which received “forages“ for service - the monetary or natural pay and separate privileges, the vast majority to the nobility of the relation had no them.

For sluzhily people “on the fatherland“ the system of nation-wide ranks which placed them according to accurate hierarchy was created:

ranks are Duma: boyars, okolnichy, dumny noblemen, dumny clerks;

ranks sluzhily Moscow: stolnik, solicitors, noblemen Moscow, residents;

ranks sluzhily policemen or provincial: noblemen are elective, children seigniorial domestic, children is seigniorial policemen.

Except them there was a small group of persons, having court ranks, but, as a rule, they in parallel had also all-civil, and also a significant amount of clerks. Clerks, except dumny, were not included into the general system of ranks. The part of them was provided with estates on an equal basis with noblemen depending on the duty station, and some part received “forages“. The scribes serving in orders in the majority received “forages“ and were not equated to noblemen, as well as court attendants (key keepers, stremyanny, yaselnichy, falconers, lovchy etc.) .

Existence of ranks allocated the nobility in exclusive estate and served its consolidation. Depending on a rank all employees “on the fatherland“ were allocated with estates of a certain size which was accurately regulated, but depended on the region where the earth was allocated. The size of “a local salary“, an order of its receiving and a possibility of transfer to successors at receipt was legislatively fixed them on service. The possibility of the translation of all or part of the estate was provided in an ancestral lands, i.e. in hereditary possession. As a rule, it was made out in the form of an award for personal differences. All sluzhily noblemen registered in special digit lists, and aristocrats (genealogical noblemen) besides and in the Velvet book which was kept with the middle of the 16th century.

All these measures led to gradual rapprochement of the sluzhily nobility and aristocracy, gave the chance of office growth, in any case, to the level of sluzhily Moscow ranks. Further promotion was significantly slowed down by system of regionalism which was officially cancelled only in 1682.

The term “nobleman“ was at that time used in relation to the name of certain ranks, and the nobility in general (in its modern understanding) was usually designated by the term “shlyakhetstvo“. This term used in the official documents Peter I which began to create a uniform exclusive sector of society from sluzhily noblemen and aristocrats.

How in Russia there was a final formation of nobility and legislative registration of its rights and duties, it will be told in the following part of article.