Of Russian origin: Table of Ranks
The Who, What and Why in Imperial Russia.
The Table of Ranks was instituted in Russia in 1722, spurred by Peter The Great’s desire to bring the growing state into order, putting it on par with Western countries.
It took three years for Peter and his closest associates to draw up the final version of the ranks. The resulting final version saw the number of state, court, and army ranks grow significantly.
The Table of Ranks borrowed heavily from similar lists existing in Denmark and Prussia, but was constructed with keeping in mind already existing ranks in Russia.
Overall, there were 14 grades of ranks, with the 14th being the lowest and the 1st being the highest.
|Civil Ranks||Court Ranks||Military Ranks|
|Chancellor, Acting Privy Councilor||None||Generalissimo, General-Fieldmarshal|
|Acting Privy Councilor||Chief Chamberlein, Chief Marshal of the Court, Master of the Horse, Chief Master of the Hunt, Chief Master of Court, Chief Cup Bearer, Chief Master of Ceremonies||General en Chef, General of the Infantry, Adjuntant General, Quartermaster General|
|Privy Councilor||Marshal of the Court, Deputy Master of the Horse, Master of the Hunt, Master of the Court, Chief Master of Ceremonies, Chief Portion Steward||General-Poruchik, Lieutenant General|
|Acting Civil Councilor/Acting State Councilor||Chamberlain||Major General|
|Civil Councilor/State Councilor||Master of Ceremonies||Brigadier|
|Collegiate Councilor||Chamber Fourrier, Chamberlain (until 1737)||Polkovnik (Colonel)|
|Court Councilor||None||Sub-Polkovnik (Lieutenant Colonel)|
|Collegiate Assessor||Steward Fourrier||Permier/First Major, Second Major|
|Collegiate Secretary||None||Captain-Poruchik (Captain Lieutenant), Staff Captain|
|Ship Secretary||Chamber Junker||Poruchik (Lieutenant) – since 1765|
|Gubernial Secretary||None||Poruchik (Lieutenant) – before 1765|
|Office Registrar, Provincial Registrar, Senate Registrar, Synod Registrar||none||Sub-Poruchik (Sub-Lieutenant)|
|Collegiate Registrar||Praporschik (Senior Ensign)|
Aside from a wide array of some of the most peculiar employments avialable for nobility at Russian Imperial court, the Table of Ranks also bore a very significant purpose.
Skipping a grade and rising to the highest ranks of nobles was out of the question without actually performing outstanding services for the state. Peter’s vigorous fight against the existing old Russian nobility – the boyars – and the accompanying flagrant nepotism at court were the main driving stimuli behind the creation of the Table.
The military was favored by Peter the Great precisely for that reason – the Emperor believed those who served in the army were honestly carrying out service for the country, putting their lives on the line for the sake of the country’s interests and protection of its borders.
The Emperor was not a great fan of the nobility, who preferred to spend their time enveloped in scheming and plotting in palatial residences, doing nothing for the country.
After the Table of Ranks came into effect, everyone’s position and status was determined according to service, and not birthright – something which was met with antipathy from the nobility, many of who at this point were illiterate and shunned an active duty.
Though state service did possess certain loopholes, the Table still allowed the most talented and dedicated people to rise through the ranks to the very top.
Theoretically, every nobleman started off at the very bottom and had to work his way up, his parentage notwithstanding.
A civil servant reaching the 14th rank was endowed with personal nobility. Heridatary nobility was awarded to any state or military officer reaching 8th grade. In order to be promoted, an officer had to meet certain qualifications, but starting from the 5th grade, the Emperor’s personal approval had to be also given for the promotion.
The Table of Ranks also spelled out rules for wives and children of civil, court and military officers, with numerous hefty fines imposed for violations of one’s rank. One of the accompanying articles to the Table stated children of nobility were welcome at court assemblies, but could not receive a rank until they showed their character and determination in fulfilling a service for the country.
Every rank came with accompanying rules for carriage, dress code, and honors. If anyone demanded greater laurels than appropriate for his or her rank, he or she were to be punished in the amount of two monthly allowances. The whistleblower in the case of reporting a misconduct received 1/3 of the fine. The rest went to state hospitals.
Overall, the Table of Ranks improved and organized the social gradation in Russia, allowing many determined individuals to leave their mark – and get recognized. Ilya Ulyuanov , working in the management of education, progressed to the rank of Acting State Councilor by 1874, which gave him the privilege of hereditary nobility. However, one of his sons – Vladimir -- did away not just with the Table of Ranks, but with the whole Empire altogether. In history books he’s known more by his Communist Pseudonym, Lenin.
Written by Irina Galushko, RT correspondent