Chief Magistracy

Chief Magistracy


a governmental institution in Russia, established by a decree of Peter I on Feb. 13, 1720. The creation of the Chief Magistracy represented Peter’s second attempt at establishing a centralized administration for the urban population (the first was the Burmeisterskaia Palata). The Chief Magistracy was placed under the direct authority of the tsar and the Senate. It was headed by a chief president who was to be from the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry). The board of the magistracy was drawn from the richest merchants. The functions of the Chief Magistracy were defined in the Regulations, or Charter, of the Chief Magistracy, which were approved on Jan. 16, 1721. As therein decreed, the urban population was divided into “regular citizens” (who were to be organized into guilds and crafts) and “base” ones (podlyi, including “hired workers” and “day laborers” [chernye raboty]); and town magistracies were established in the localities. The Chief Magistracy supervised the town magistracies and reviewed appeals of their court decisions. It regulated privileges of the townspeople, including their right to engage in trade and handicraft production. In 1727 the Chief Magistracy was abolished by the Supreme Privy Council. It was reestablished in May 1743. By a decree of Oct. 2, 1782, it was eliminated for good.


Eroshkin, N. P. Istoriia gosudarstvennykh uchrezhdenii dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Gosudarstvennye uchrezhdeniia Rossii v XVIII veke (Zakonodatel’nye materialy): Spravochnoe posobie. Compiled by A. V. Chernov. Moscow, 1960.
Vodarskii, la. E. “Iz istorii sozdaniia Glavnogo magistrata.” In the collection Voprosy sotsial’no-ekonomicheskoi istorii i istochnikovedeniia perioda feodalizma v Rossii: Sbornik stat’ei k 70-letiiu A. A. Novosel’skogo. Moscow, 1961.


References in classic literature ?
Among his patients was the child of the Shiek's daughter--for even this poor, ragged handful of sores and sin has its royal Shiek--a poor old mummy that looked as if he would be more at home in a poor-house than in the Chief Magistracy of this tribe of hopeless, shirtless savages.