Paul BushkovitchDec 28, 2021
Succession to the Throne in Early Modern Russia
The Transfer of Power 1450-1725
Cambridge University Press 2021
The transfer of power is something every must state attend to (and preferably by peaceful means). Remarkably, this fundamental aspect of statecraft was governed by custom rather than law into the eighteenth century in Russia. In Succession to the Throne in Early Modern Russia: The Transfer of Power 1450-1725 (Cambridge UP, 2021), Paul Bushkovitch traces the history of how tsars (and earlier, grand princes) came to the Russian throne. Overturning generations of scholarship, Bushkovitch shows that there were various means by which a ruler came to govern Russia. Russian grand princes often designated their eldest sons to the throne in their lifetime, but primogeniture was neither codified nor the only option. The Russian elite on certain occasions elected the new tsar, and women multiple times found themselves at the pinnacle of state power. Deploying decades of erudition and archival sleuthing, Bushkovitch offers a thought-provoking front row view on the evolution of determining the heir and succession politics in early modern Russia.
Erika Monahan is an associate professor of history at the University of New Mexico.