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The Russian Empire 1450-1801$
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Nancy Shields Kollmann

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280513

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280513.001.0001

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Towns, Townsmen, and Urban Reform

Towns, Townsmen, and Urban Reform

(p.375) 18 Towns, Townsmen, and Urban Reform
The Russian Empire 1450-1801

Nancy Shields Kollmann

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys towns and cities across the empire in the eighteenth century. Small towns continued to be the norm, but major centers grew with the expansion of export trade. A new social group—the “people of various social ranks” or raznochintsy—emerged to fill the needs of the expanding economy; they were literate teachers, artisans, and traders. Peter I and Catherine II instituted urban reforms with the dual goals of enhancing tax revenue and creating a more vigorous bourgeois class and more autonomous municipalities; the latter goals remained elusive. The chapter showcases several towns as examples of urban variety: small towns such as Bezhetsk and Tula, trade centers such as Riga and Reval, and the major trade, political, and cultural centers of Kyiv, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. It ends with a profile of merchant Ivan Tolchenov as exemplar of the dynamism of eighteenth-century trade.

Keywords:   towns, raznochintsy, social hierarchy, urban reforms, Reval, Riga, Kyiv, Moscow, St. Petersburg, merchants

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