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Peter the Great

The rationalization enforced by Peter in the spheres of civil and military administration was further extended to encompass cultural and spiritual life of his subjects and even to a minute regimentation of social fashions and dress styles. The middle classes and the nobility were  pressed into adopting western dress and the shaving of  beards - measures that would have been unthinkable during the reigns of his predecessors. Peter vigorously promoted a new secular culture and westernized education by giving Russia schools like those to be found in the advanced countries of the West and by founding the Academy of Sciences to encourage scientific studies. 

The Orthodox church, which occupied a central place in the traditional culture of Russia, was subjected to a particularly radical reorganization. The powerful position of patriarch was abolished. The Holy Synod, consisting of a committee of church officials, all appointed by the tsar, became the governing body of the church. The Synodís work was supervised, on behalf of the tsar, by a layman, the Ober-Procurator who ran the church practically as an agency of state. One of the chief reasons for these actions by Peter was to combat the church hierarchyís opposition to his reform. From now on the government had an effective control over church organization, its property and policies.

The administrative system created as a result of Peterís reforms proved lasting and stable and in all essential aspects survived until  the fall of tsarism in 1917, albeit some of the institutions were assigned different functions or renamed (the Senate, for instance, would evolve into the countryís supreme court, while colleges would be replaced by ministries in 1801). The Table of Ranks also endured till the collapse of the tsarist regime. The rationalization of the bureaucratic hierarchy strengthened the power of Russian absolutism in that rank, prestige and even the well-being of civil servants came to depend upon the will and favor of the monarch alone. From the Table of Ranks developed the petrification of the bureaucratic order of the Imperial Russia, its gradual consolidation into a new serving class which stood between society and the ruler.

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Peter the Great

 

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