Charter of the Cities 1785

Charter of the Cities (1785)


a legislative act decreed Apr. 21, 1785, by Catherine II the Great. The charter established new elective institutions for the cities, thus somewhat enlarging the circle of voters. The townspeople were divided into six groups on the basis of property and social status: (1) “true city dwellers,” that is, owners of real estate from the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry), civil service, and clergy; (2) merchants of the three guilds; (3) artisans registered in guilds; (4) foreigners and nonresidents; (5)imenitye grazhdane (distinguished citizens); and (6) posadskie liudi (merchants and artisans), that is, all other citizens who earned their living in a town as tradesmen or craftsmen.

The charter granted these groups the beginning of self-government, in a sense analogous to the principles of the Charter of the Nobility. Every three years an assembly was to be convened of the “city public” which included only the most well-off citizens. The charter established the general municipal duma (council) as a permanent institution composed of the town mayor and six councillors. The magistraty (offices of municipal administration) were to be the elective judicial institutions in the towns.


Ryndziunskii, P. G. Gorodskoe grazhdanstvo doreformennoi Rossii. Moscow, 1958.
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