Provincial Financing During the First Regional Reform. The Arkhangelsk Version
Keywords:Russia in the epoch of Peter the Great, province, burgomaster, lay self-government bodies, finances, expenditures, “the Archangelsk case”, A. A. Kurbatov, G. I. Koshelev, M. I. Volkonsky
Provincial institutions created by Peter I in 1710 were designed to ensure fiscal mobilisation, large-scale and maximum possible collection of material resources for the needs of warfare and the simultaneous reform of the armed forces. The first Russian governors had extensive administrative powers but, at the same time, they were under the strict financial control of the highest governing bodies: the Senate, its divisions, and the monarch himself. The governors were deprived of legal opportunities to spend at least some of the money collected through the provincial cash desks to ensure the functioning of their apparatus. It was not only about paying salaries to the ranks of provincial administrations, maintaining administrative buildings in working order, and purchasing consumables for office work. There was no money for more substantial expenditures: payment for the travel of numerous commissioners from the centre to the provinces, for the travel of their officials within the provinces, for the fees for the accommodation of these agents, for the expenses of their maintenance, for the payment of various kinds of state works, for the transportation of recruits and material supplies to the centre, i. e. everything that constituted the very essence of the functioning of local authorities. In this paradoxical situation, the main support could only be obtained from the zemstvo self-government bodies. The long-known practice of state bodies of local power being maintained by the population of the uyezd was replenished in the Petrine era with new elements. Lay fees covered the expenses of crown agents sent from the centre to the region and helped pay for some government work within the province. However, the peculiarities of the legislation of the era put the governors and their employees, who shifted the financial burden on the zemstvo, into a risky position. They could be accused of bribery and “unspecified fees” that undermined the solvency of the taxed population. Never previously published documents on Arkhangelsk province discovered by the author of the article reveal the complete picture of the financial support of the township communities of the Dvina uyezd for the activities of the provincial administration in 1711–1713 and the complex vicissitudes of relations between the central and local crown authorities and secular organisations. The documents were archived during the investigation of the case of the Arkhangelsk vice-governor A. A. Kurbatov and reflect one of the investigative episodes of 1716.
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