This article explores the origins and development of noble constitutionalism in Russia as intellectual history. The most significant factor in the formation of Russian constitutionalism was western European political writing which was actively studied and used by representatives of the political elite. Noble constitutionalism became an important intellectual movement, showing significant influence on political life in 18th century Russia: it originated in the context of the limits put on the power of autocracy by aristocratic elites in 1730. The sources of the verkhovniki 's ideas can be sought in the republican tradition of 16th and 17th century western political thought. That radical attempt did not meet with the understanding of the "enlightened" nobility in the second half of the 18th century, a nobility which instead tried to realize Montesquieu 's idea of "true monarchy". During the reign of Catherine II, as a response to a series of "fundamental laws" projects, governmental constitutionalism emerged which tried to circumvent the question of the special political role of the nobility in a monarchy. The last significant showings of noble "projectors" at the beginning of Alexander I 's reign lead to the de facto rejection by the government of the "true monarchy" ideology and to a crisis of the noble constitutionalism movement.