Catherine the Great – some notes

During Catherine’s era Jews were exempted from military service and had to pay their extra tax – it was a trade. In 1827 Nicholas I abandoned that and drafted Jews.

There weren’t a lot of Jews in Russia prior to Catherine’s era. That changed when Russia got her sections of the Partitions of Poland. This is when Catherine established the “Pale of Settlement” and it was for economic and nationalist reasons. *Note* Massie doesn’t go into any of this but I’d like to gently point out that the subtitle of the book is “Portrait of a Woman” not “Dynamic Leader” or “Empress of the Enlightenment.” (lol) So I say it to defend him – Catherine’s dealings with the Jews or with economics might have been somewhat outside what Massie considered as the scope of his book – just my o.

Anyway – The Pale of Settlement during Catherine’s reign:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_of_Settlement:
The Pale was first created by Catherine the Great in 1791, after several failed attempts by her predecessors, notably the Empress Elizabeth, to remove Jews from Russia entirely, unless they converted to Russian Orthodoxy, the state religion. The reasons for its creation were primarily economic and nationalist.[citation needed]

The institution of the Pale became more significant following the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, since until then, Russia’s Jewish population had been rather limited; the dramatic westward expansion of the Czarist Empire through the annexation of Polish-Lithuanian territory increased the Jewish population substantially. At its height, the Pale, including the new Polish and Lithuanian territories, had a Jewish population of over 5 million, and represented the largest component (40 percent) of world Jewish population at that time.

From 1791 to 1835, and until 1917, there were differing reconfigurations of the boundaries of the Pale, such that certain areas were variously open or shut to Jewish residency, such as the Caucasus. At times, Jews were forbidden to live in agricultural communities, or certain cities, as in Kiev, Sevastopol and Yalta, and forced to move to small provincial towns, thus fostering the rise of the shtetls. Jewish merchants of the 1st guild, people with higher or special education, artisans, soldiers, drafted in accordance with the Recruit Charter of 1810, and their descendants had the right to live outside the Pale of Settlement. In some periods, special dispensations were given for Jews to live in the major imperial cities, but these were tenuous, and several thousand Jews were expelled to the Pale from Saint Petersburg and Moscow as late as 1891.

>>>>
And a bit more on Jews and taxes during Catherine’s reign:

Jewish communities in Russia were governed internally by local … Councils … constituted in every town or hamlet possessing a Jewish population. [These councils] had jurisdiction over Jews in matters of internal litigation, as well as fiscal transactions relating to the collection and payment of taxes (poll tax, land tax, etc.). Later, this right of collecting taxes was much abused; in 1844 the civil authority of the Councils of Elders over its Jewish population was abolished.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Russia

ME: I think Catherine was not so much anti-semitic as she was promoting the Orthodox faith (as she saw it) for all Russians. Converted Jews were considered Russian Orthodox – period. That said, more tolerance was certainly shown to the German and other Protestants who were allowed to settle in Russia. Even so, Jewish persecution was generally the same (or maybe less virulent) in Russia as in other parts of Europe at this time, and the strength of the persecution (or tolerance) was very changeable in almost all areas.

In Russia persecution of the Jews did get much worse during the reign “anti-semite” and reactionary Alexander III (reign – 1881-1894). In spite of Marxism, this situation endured at least through Stalin’s terrors.

The Russian Empire under Catherine II had significant debts. The money for the jewels, palaces, huge military expenses and the whole rigamarole came in large part from high taxes of various sorts and state monopolies.

In the 1540s, Ivan IV began setting up kabaks (кабак) or taverns in his major cities to help fill his coffers;[3][5] a third of Russian men were in debt to the kabaks by 1648.[5] By 1860, vodka, the national drink, was the source of 40% of the government’s revenue.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholism_in_Russia

Peter I (1672-1725) increased government costs tremendously but he also increased taxes per “head.” He simply told the Senate that it was their “mission” to collect taxes. (1) The salt trade was monopolized by the government. Alcohol was taxed. Serfs who had tillable land were taxed by their masters on the production. Even wearing beards was taxed down through Catherine’s time. (2) Revenue from taxes tripled under Peter I. (3)
(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Empire
(2) http://www.answers.com/topic/beard-tax
(3) http://www.parallelsixty.com/history-russia-continue.shtml

Catherine taxed the Jews (by religion not ethnicity) and Orthodox Jews were taxed double.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_II_of_Russia

The decree of 1767 completely prohibited direct petitions to the empress from the peasantry.[2] The peasants were also subject to an increase in indirect taxes due to the increase in the state’s requirements. In addition, a strong inflationary trend resulted in higher prices on all goods.[3]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pugachev’s_Rebellion

“Almost all the Villages are heavily taxed. The Lords, who seldom or never reside in their Villages, lay an Impost on every Head of one, two, and even five Rubles, without the least Regard to the Means by which their Peasants may be able to raise this Money. 270. It is highly necessary that the Law should prescribe a Rule to the Lords, for a more judicious Method of raising their Revenues; and oblige them to levy such a Tax…”
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/18catherine.asp

Catherine increased the money supply using two methods but was cautious about this. First, she ordered the coining of more copper money, but there had been experiments with prior tsars and the result was inflation so she was careful. Second, she originated the use of paper money. This was necessary because the silver money was expensive to provide and high foreign trade required more silver. This was also kept within inflationary bounds and the system was in place until the mid-19th century.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assignation_ruble

MORE:

During Catherine’s era Jews were exempted from military service and had to pay their extra tax – it was a trade. In 1827 Nicholas I abandoned that and drafted Jews.

There weren’t a lot of Jews in Russia prior to Catherine’s era. That changed when Russia got her sections of the Partitions of Poland. This is when Catherine established the “Pale of Settlement” and it was for economic and nationalist reasons. *Note* Massie doesn’t go into any of this but I’d like to gently point out that the subtitle of the book is “Portrait of a Woman” not “Dynamic Leader” or “Empress of the Enlightenment.” (lol) So I say it to defend him – Catherine’s dealings with the Jews or with economics might have been somewhat outside what Massie considered as the scope of his book – just my o.

Anyway – The Pale of Settlement during Catherine’s reign:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_of_Settlement:
The Pale was first created by Catherine the Great in 1791, after several failed attempts by her predecessors, notably the Empress Elizabeth, to remove Jews from Russia entirely, unless they converted to Russian Orthodoxy, the state religion. The reasons for its creation were primarily economic and nationalist.[citation needed]

The institution of the Pale became more significant following the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, since until then, Russia’s Jewish population had been rather limited; the dramatic westward expansion of the Czarist Empire through the annexation of Polish-Lithuanian territory increased the Jewish population substantially. At its height, the Pale, including the new Polish and Lithuanian territories, had a Jewish population of over 5 million, and represented the largest component (40 percent) of world Jewish population at that time.

From 1791 to 1835, and until 1917, there were differing reconfigurations of the boundaries of the Pale, such that certain areas were variously open or shut to Jewish residency, such as the Caucasus. At times, Jews were forbidden to live in agricultural communities, or certain cities, as in Kiev, Sevastopol and Yalta, and forced to move to small provincial towns, thus fostering the rise of the shtetls. Jewish merchants of the 1st guild, people with higher or special education, artisans, soldiers, drafted in accordance with the Recruit Charter of 1810, and their descendants had the right to live outside the Pale of Settlement. In some periods, special dispensations were given for Jews to live in the major imperial cities, but these were tenuous, and several thousand Jews were expelled to the Pale from Saint Petersburg and Moscow as late as 1891.

>>>>
And a bit more on Jews and taxes during Catherine’s reign:

Jewish communities in Russia were governed internally by local … Councils … constituted in every town or hamlet possessing a Jewish population. [These councils] had jurisdiction over Jews in matters of internal litigation, as well as fiscal transactions relating to the collection and payment of taxes (poll tax, land tax, etc.). Later, this right of collecting taxes was much abused; in 1844 the civil authority of the Councils of Elders over its Jewish population was abolished.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Russia

ME: I think Catherine was not so much anti-semitic as she was promoting the Orthodox faith (as she saw it) for all Russians. Converted Jews were considered Russian Orthodox – period. That said, more tolerance was certainly shown to the German and other Protestants who were allowed to settle in Russia. Even so, Jewish persecution was generally the same (or maybe less virulent) in Russia as in other parts of Europe at this time, and the strength of the persecution (or tolerance) was very changeable in almost all areas.

In Russia persecution of the Jews did get much worse during the reign “anti-semite” and reactionary Alexander III (reign – 1881-1894). In spite of Marxism, this situation endured at least through Stalin’s terrors.

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