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The Elder Brother In Russia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses that the curious fact that a concept of hierarchical ranking or seniority has been prominent in most of the more than thousand years of the history of the Russian state. The extraordinary prolificity of the house of Rurik in subsequent centuries aggravated the inherent defects of the original system of succession in more than one way. The most common treaties between Russian princes in the Middle Ages were those which established or reaffirmed seniority of one of the signatories, by recognizing his status as elder brother. The operation of mestnichestvo is known in considerable detail, on account of the relative abundance of the surviving materials. The Table of Ranks was one of the best prepared legislative innovations of the Petrine era. The practice in a number of West European countries had been studied.

Keywords: house of Rurik; mestnichestvo; Russian state; Table of Ranks



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