The Governmental Policy of Supporting the Georgian Nobility under Alexander III: Debts and Estates
This article analyses the circumstances behind the decision to provide material assistance to the “impoverished” Georgian nobility by the ruling authorities of the Russian Empire in the 1870s–1890s. The Caucasian Governor-General, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich raised the issue in 1878 in connection with the uncovered large debt of some Georgian nobles to the Transcaucasian Order of Public Charity. The Governor-General asked to add up the debt of 3 million roubles pointing to several objective factors that prevented the nobles from paying their debts on time. But the Caucasian Committee only agreed to waive interest charges of the Georgian nobility which they had not been paying for several years. Even the efforts of the Grand Duke, who personally addressed Alexander II, did not yield results, since the government leaders were indifferent to the “noble question” at the time but strictly protected the interests of the Treasury, due to the deplorable state of the Empire’s finances after the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–1878. Only the change of political course under Alexander III allowed A. M. Dondukov-Korsakov, the new chief of the Caucasus, to raise the issue of material support for the Georgian nobility again. The author carries out a detailed analysis of the work of the Commission convened by Dondukov in Tiflis. Special attention is paid to the struggle that unfolded between the Minister of Finance N. H. Bunge and Dondukov, who eventually not only granted Georgian noblemen significant benefits when paying off debts in 1884 but also facilitated the opening of a branch of the Noble Land Bank in Tiflis in 1890. Dondukov was able to convince Alexander III that helping Georgian nobles was an integral part of such a key direction of his domestic policy as support for the local Russian nobility.
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