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Adventures of the term “absolutism” in Russian historiography (on the book by L.V. Landina)

Kondratyev Sergey, Kondratyeva Tamara

The article analyses the book by L.V. Landina Absolutism and Absolute monarchy in the Russian historiography of the last third of the XIX-beginning of the XXI century. The monograph covers Russian studies on Western European absolutism and Russian autocracy over the past 150 years. It was important to describe how the problematic of the topic, the research tools of historians, the semantics of the concepts had be changing and evolving and to show at the same time the thematic, plot and even evaluative continuity, despite the prescriptions descending from power and a demonstrative break with pre-revolutionary preferences. There was an idea of ​​general laws of development and a single main road in the works of the old "Russian school" and Soviet historians. Both schools believed that absolutism has a progressive phase, when it promotes development, and reactionary, when it prevents it. Common to the "Russian school" and Soviet historians was the identification of the French model of absolutism as classical or complete. It follows from the book that the normative concept of absolutism, or absolute monarchy, as a transitional noble, feudal state with unlimited, due to the formed balance between the classes of the bourgeoisie and the nobility, power, was formed in the 1930s. The concept of "balance" survived until the 1980s, reflecting the efforts of various actors to shake it. But normativity did not exclude interpretative variability within certain limits. The research polyphony that has emerged in Soviet science has become a common phenomenon in modern Russia. Landina states the rejection of normativity, the absence of a universal concept of "absolutism", the limitless expansion of the thematic research field and calls for building a "concept of absolutism" on the basis of a "multivariate methodology".

Keywords: Russian historiography, absolutism, absolute monarchy, autocracy
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