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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reveals the deep structures of Muscovite politics by explaining first its theoretical foundations (in which written texts and symbolic representations combined to present a consistent worldview) and then its practical operations (heavily dependent on kinship, marriage and patronage networks). Though it focuses on the period from Ivan III (r. 1462–1505) to the end of the seventeenth century, the chapter ends by considering the impact of Peter I (r. 1682–1725). Change trumped continuity with regard to political culture. Yet, even as they constructed a political rhetoric and elite culture on Western models, Peter and his successors echoed traditional Muscovy in their evocations of Orthodoxy, their patronage and largesse, and their patrimonial claims to power. And they achieved time-honoured Muscovite goals by maintaining stability among factional groups, enriching their elites, expanding the Empire and presiding over dynamic economic growth.

Keywords: political culture, power, autocracy, patronage, honour, kinship, marriage, bureaucracy, ritual, symbolism

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