Release:2019, Vol. 5. №1
About the author:Larisa Yu. Varentsova, Cand. Sci. (Hist.), Associate Professor, Department of Theory and History of State and Law, Nizhny Novgorod Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia; firstname.lastname@example.org
In the system of Russian central authorities of the 18th century, the Court Ministries (Prikaz) that served the tsarist household and the Tsar’s court stood out. Among them, the Ministry of Secret Affairs occupied the most important place. In the historical literature, the activity of the Ministry received ambiguous assessments. Historians called it “the Tsar’s Chancellery”, “the beginning of the secret police in Russia”, and “the body of supervision over the affairs of the administration”, and they even compared it with “The Spanish Inquisition”.
The relevance of this work is the study of the historical experience of Russian statehood. The purpose of the article is to consider the work of this Ministry in the system of central authorities of Russia of the 17th century. The author has used comparative-historical and systematic methods of research. The historiographic basis of this article includes the works of Russian pre-revolutionary researchers I. Y. Gurlyand, S. M. Solovyov, and M. Baranovsky, as well as the works of historians of the Soviet and post-Soviet era S. B. Veselovsky, V. I. Kostin, and N. F. Demidova. The source base (that can be treated as novelty) consists of the unpublished records from the Fund 396 “Armoury chamber” of the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (RSAAA, Moscow). Among them, particular importance belongs to the “Catalog of rural areas with villages and agricultural lands, iron and salt factories, and fisheries, which were in the Department of the Ministry of Secret Affairs”, created in connection with the liquidation of the Ministry in 1676. Among the published sources, there is a group of record keeping documentation. These are census, parish-account books, and orderly notes of the Ministry of Secret Affairs. The memoirs of the Russian political figure of the 17th century G. K. Kotoshikhin and the sources of the epistolary type, the letters of Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich, biographical reference books were scrutinized.
The author defines the role and the place of the Ministry of Secret Affairs in the system of power of the Russian state in the 17th century and identifies geographical scales of its activity and the sources of the income and expenses of this Ministry. Moreover, this article studies a privilege system for the departamental administration and the dependence of the servitors of the Ministry on the will of Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich. A special attention is paid to the structure and numerous functions of the Ministry, the people who served in it. The establishment of the Ministry of Secret Affairs testified to the formation of an absolute monarchy in Russia. The Ministry administration was responsible for the socio-economic and political development of the tsarist domain in Russia. The article analyzes the work of the Liquidation commission in connection with the abolition of the Ministry of Secret Affairs.