The Death Penalty Moratorium in 18th-Century Russia
The article is devoted to the phenomenon of a twenty-year moratorium on the death penalty in Russia of the 18th century, during the reign of Elizaveta Petrovna. The paper analyzes the most important reasons for the unofficial abolition of capital punishment and the correlationbetween this decision of the Empress and the events of the palace coup of 1741. The moratorium on the death penalty raised the urgent issue of the fate of “pardoned man of convicts”, whose conditions of detention on Rogervik Island are also described in the article. Such a harsh and peremptory humanization of criminal penalties, undertaken solely on the internal motives of the empress, aroused the displeasure of the Senate and affected the preparation of the draft of the New Law Code. Only the death of Elizabeth Petrovna prevented the impending conflict of the throne with the court elite. The moratorium on the death penalty had profound consequences influenced not only the internal political climate of the subsequent reigns, but also the foreign perception of the Russian Empire.Three years after the death of Elizabeth Petrovna in 1764, the Italian philosopher Cesare Bekkaria published his famous treatise On Crimes and Punishments, in which he proved the inconsistency of the death penalty, neither in terms of the concept of a social contract, nor in terms of the effectiveness of the prevention of serious crimes. Beccaria used the “Great Example of the Russian Empress” as an important argument not only in his famous treatise, but also in discussions with Leopold I, Duke of Tuscany, who in 1786 abolished the death penalty for the first time in Europe under the influence of the philosopher’s arguments.