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Origin of Russian Absolutism

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Although Nicolas Henshall declared “absolutism” to be a myth, the author of this article supports the view held by Brian Downing who argues that, in some cases, military-bureaucratic absolutism developed from the early modern military (or gunpowder) revolution. The author assumes that such cases are relatively rare and happen only when a military revolution causes bitter conflict between a monarchy and elite nobility. In addition to Scandinavian countries, it occurred in Russia under Peter the Great. Upon returning home from his European tour in 1698, Peter I faced the serious problem of finding the financial resourses needed to organize a new regular army; his revenue enhancement efforts provoked a conflict between the Tsar and his boyars. Eventually, Peter the Great staged a military takeover, dissolving the Boyar Duma to become an absolute monarch.

Affiliations: 1: Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russia


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