Document Type


Date of Award



Russia., Gosudarstvennyĭ, Sovi︠e︡t Russia, Politics and government, 1801-1917, State Council, Alexander I

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sidney S. Harcave

Second Advisor

Thomas W. Africa

Third Advisor

George H. Stein




The need for a formal institution to assist the monarch in the governing process led to the establishment of a number of advisory bodies which can be considered predecessors of a state council in Russia. The Boyar Duma, for example, although an ill-defined body without legally determined competence, functioned for centuries as a consultative assemblage that assisted the sovereign in a wide variety of matters. It was replaced in 1708 by a Private Chancellery (Blizhniaia Kantselariia) of the tsar which, in turn, was replaced in 1711 by the Governing Senate. From 1711 to 1810 there were no less than eight bodies of various types that performed duties similar to those delegated to the 1810 State Council. These bodies ranged from informal privy councils of favorites such as Elizabeth I's Conference to formally constituted institutions such as the Permanent Council of Alexander I. In longevity these councils varied from the short-lived Imperial Council of Peter III to the Governing Senate which existed in various capacities throughout the entire period. It is in light of the need for, and development of,these various advisory bodies that the origin of the 1810 State Council can be best understood.


Simply stated, the conflict between the aristocratic and bureaucratic-paternalistic reform positions was between two opposing means of establishing order and legality in the central government. One favored the creation of a body that would guarantee legal treatment of a particular sector of society, while the other favored the establishment of an institutional framework which would bring orderly and equitable government to all of Russian society.

The reader must bear in mind, however, that the examination of the origin of a state council in Russia on the basis of a conflict between two opposing reform positions is but a conceptual scheme employed to discuss the council's origin in a logical and orderly fashion. The conflict did not exist at all times nor was it the determining factor in the development of a state council in Russia.