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Rostovsteva, Yu.A. Religious ideal of Mikhail Shcherbatov in terms of the legislative policy of enlightended absolutism

Published in journal "Politics and Society", 2014-12 in rubric "Religion and politics", pages 1584-1592.

Resume: The article is devoted to the religious structure of a state institution described by Mikhail Shcherbatov in his utopia “Journey to the Land of Ophyr” (1783). The research is focused on a priestpoliceman depicted by the writer in his utopia. Rostovtseva examines existing scientific views on the grounds of that image. According to T. Artemieva, Shcherbatov has formed his religious ideal under the influence of the concept of cameralistics of Justi and Sonnenfels while G. Vernadsky and S. Ber explains the writer’s choice by his Mason views. Rostovtseva sows that none of these points of view, however, explains the origin of that image, so the researcher offers a new solution of this scientific issue which is to analyze Shcherbatov’s religious “reform” in terms of the legislative policy of enlightened absolutism. For analysis the author of the article uses a wide range of draft laws and laws that represent the practice of religious discipline throughout the 18th century. These are, in the first place, the Imperial Majesty’s Edict on Mandatory Church Confession of 1718, Spiritual Regulation (1721), the draft New Regulations of 1755 and a number of documents developed during the ruling of Catherine the Great such as “Big Nakaz (Order) of the Empress’ and “Discipline or Police Statute” (1782), etc. Having analyzed the Journey to the Land of Ophyr in terms of the aforesaid legal acts, on the one hand, and activity of Shcherbatov as a depute of the Big Commission for Creating a New Discipline Order, on the other hand, the author of the article concludes that the image of the priest-policeman answered the needs of the overall state policy of enlightened absolutism regarding Orthodox Church.

Keywords: enlightened absolutism, political ideal, religious discipline, Catherine the Great, Nakaz, Discipline Statute, Mikhail Shcherbatov, literary utopia, Ophyrea, sancrai.

DOI: 10.7256/1812-8696.2014.12.13989

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