Двор и «придворное общество» в послепетровской России
The article concerns the problem of the Russian absolutist monarchy of the XVIII - the beginning of XX-th centuries in a comparative perspective. The social function of absolutism consisted in national integration, cultural unification and social transformation of traditional society by using of legal and coercive measures. The crucial problem is the changing role of the bureaucracy which could be the main protagonist of reforms or, just the opposite – its main opponent. From this point of view the author summarizes positive and negative aspects of absolutist reforms making outlook on the comparative experience of other absolutist empires of Europe and Asia.
In the article the analysis of the situation which developed in Russia at the beginning of the XX century and attempts of the imperial power to prevent the approaching catastrophe which were connected with the realization of the idea of representation of the people is given. The attitude of the last Russian emperor to the idea of formation of representation of the people is shown.
Autobiografical texts, survived from the late Middle Ages, allowed to the author analysing several amusing cases of complex relations between German noblemen of different generations.
The case of Petr Saltykov, which stretched on between 1758 and 1765, with a surprising coda in 1796, is noteworthy in many respects. The material collected in connection with Saltykov’s crime is useful for an investigation into magic belief as such, offering parallels and supplementary information to the dozens of “magic trials” of the 18th century. However, what makes the Saltykov case unique is how the chancellor’s “superstition” managed so compellingly to bring together two cultures – traditional folk culture and the “Europeanized” culture of the imperial court. The case of Saltykov’s “sorcery” brought the diametrically opposed cultures of the court elite and the masses into confrontation. But even opposites can come together. As it turned out, the magic beliefs of the masses and medical practices of archaic traditional culture continued to attract adherents at court, getting along just fine in a high-culture, “Europeanized” environment. The chasm that lay between the culture of the aristocratic court elite and popular culture in the 18th century was not unbridgeable, although possible intersections of these two cultures sometimes took on rather strange configurations.