Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
In the article, we analyzed the organization, structure, and functions of provincial
councils in the Moscow kingdom, their conformity to the criteria of estate-representative democracy institutions. In our research, we applied various
historiographical and material sources to assess this political and legal phenomenon.
As a result, the study refutes the assertion that the estate-representative
form of government was dominant in the Moscow kingdom of the 16–17th centuries,
as both Soviet and modern literature stated.
The paper presents the views of scholars and memoirists, who mostly deny
the estate-representative features of autocratic Moscovia. The authors provide
evidence to support their position.
This study demonstrates the difference between the estate-representative institutions
of Moscow and Western Europe. It argues that such institutions in Europe
traditionally were vested with legislative powers, i.e. they adopted legislative
acts intended to constrain or control the monarch. Heads of state convened
parliament based on orders to address pressing issues of political life. The elected
persons who attended parliamentary sittings received orders and instructions,
and when returning back they were accountable for their actions before those
who delegated them. The elected got a task to protect the interests of the third
class (burghers), to which they belonged.
In contrast to Western Europe, the class society in Moscovia had failed to develop.
It had brought to life only in the second half of the 18th century. There was
no election of representatives from the caste corporation at all, and those held
were far from democratic and had no connection with the caste society. All this
leads to the conclusion that the history of Russia has never seen such a form of
government as the estate-representative monarchy.
Keywords: estate-representative monarchy, Zemsky Sobor, form of government,
political regime, Moscow kingdom, social groups, representation.