«The sovereign's word and deed» in the times of the first Romanovs

Chernikova T.V.


The article is devoted to the history of the appearance in Russia of the 17th century searches for «the Sovereign's Word and Deed». It is known that the concept of political crime («the Sovereign's Word and Deed») was first defined in the Cathedral Code of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1649. The article shows that this was preceded by the spontaneous separation of many cases from the general investigative practice in Russia in the 17th century. Immediately after the end of the Turmoil, both the central and local state authorities had an intuitive understanding that even minor offenses casting a shadow on the name of the sovereign are dangerous and should be prosecuted as matters of state importance. The author pays great attention to the analysis of the Second Chapter of the Cathedral Code provisions, which was devoted to the separation of political crimes from criminal and civil cases. The article also analyses the part of the Command of Secret Affairs (Secret Order) activities, which can be associated with political investigations during the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich. The analysis of searches for «the Sovereign's Word and Deed» is based on the study of materials from the archive of the Secret Order, completely published at the beginning of the twentieth century by the Archaeographic Commission. The article also shows the history of coverage in the documents of the Secret Prikaz and some other state bodies of such large «Sovereign Words and Deeds» as the Copper Riot, the cases of Patriarch Nikon, Stepan Razin, the investigation initiated in connection with attempts to disrupt the marriage of Alexei Mikhailovich with Natalia Naryshkina and some others. The article also raises the question of the possibility of considering the Secret Order as a predecessor of regular detective bodies of political investigation and examines the views of historians of the 18th – early 21st centuries on this account. The author shares the position that recognizes a significant role for the Secret Order in developing the practice of political investigation of the 17th century. She agrees with the opinion of most modern researchers, who perceive the Secret Order as a multifunctional body reflecting the search for ways of modernization and centralization of state administration by the tsarist government during the formation of the Russian autocracy in the second half of the 17th century.


«The sovereign's word and deed»; a political investigation of the times of the first Romanovs; Cathedral Code of 1649; Secret Affairs Prikaz (Office) of Alexei Mikhailovich.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2021.04.01

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