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Halina Tumolivich. Russian czarism and gentry of Belarus Examination on „genteelness” (1795-1863)

Within the frames of the issue Russian government and the upper class in Belarus the key moment is attitude of czarism to petty gentry, the policy known as “discriminating of the gentry”. The historians use this term predominantly with reference to the period of the 30s of XIX century, when in response to the uprising the tsarist government tightened the measures on inclusion to Russian nobility persons belonging to “former gentry”. For a long time the initial period of “discriminating” was left unattended” ow­ing to negligibility of reduction of the number of privileged class in Belarusian and other lands incorporated to Russian empire. The nobility here still remained numerous and what perplexed Rus­sian authorities most of all was the “abnormally” high prevalence in its composition of small, often landless gentry. In the present paper the authors made an attempt to trace the major trends which primordially were objectively aimed to reduce the nobil­ity and to change petty gentry’s legal status. The analysis of all legislative provisions and the process of “discriminating” at the local level reveal the main trend of the policy pursued by czarism in this question. It also gives a more vivid picture how its mo­tives changed in the process of its  formation and development, the mechanisms and the ways of its realization were adjusted, the counting system of poll was perfected, etc. The study of the second period of “discriminating”, the most thoroughly examined and specified in literature, shows the rundown of the nobility at the expense of exclusion the petty gentry from its composition. In the attitude of czarism to the nobility of “western provinces” political motifs prevailed. The petty gentry was becoming “the scapegoat” which was first of all expressed in the change of le­gal status of overwhelming majority of this part of nobility that turned to be beyond the frames.