Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire


(Polnoe sobranie zakonov rossiiskoi imperii), the most complete collection of Russia’s legislative acts, listed chronologically according to the order of their ratification by the tsar.

The codification of Russia’s laws was undertaken in the second quarter of the 19th century, at a time when the autocracy, facing a critical period of the feudal and serfowning regime and of the rise of the bourgeoisie, was attempting to consolidate state power and stabilize the social order. The compilation and publication of the Complete Collection were carried out by the Second Section of His Imperial Majesty’s Chancery (1826–82), by the Codification Department of the State Council (1882–93), and by the Section for the Compilation of Laws of the State Chancery (1893-1917).

The Complete Collection encompassed all types of legislative documents of pre-Revolutionary Russia: manifestos, orders, statutes, codes, regulations, edicts, officially sanctioned opinions of the State Council, journals of the Committee and Council of Ministers, and decrees concerning individuals. It did not include ecclesiastical laws, whose publication in the Sobranie uzakonenii (Collection of Statutes) was planned by the church authorities. Legislative documents concerning the imperial court and its administration, which were purposely not made public, were also not included. Three editions of the Complete Collection appeared before the October Revolution of 1917.

The first edition of the Complete Collection (1830) was compiled by M. M. Speranskii. It contained more than 30,000 legislative documents covering the period from the Assembly Code of 1649 to Dec. 12, 1825. The 45 volumes of the series consisted of 40 volumes of documents, a chronological index (vol. 41), an alphabetical subject index (vol. 42), lists of military, naval, and civil ranks (vols. 43-44), a book of tariffs (vol. 45), and several unnumbered volumes of appendixes, including a volume with plans and preliminary sketches as well as coats of arms of various cities. Primarily for political reasons, the first edition omitted many legislative acts, especially from the 18th century. They included up to one-third of the acts of Peter I’s reign and up to one-fifth of those of the reign of Anna Ivanovna. Among the omitted acts were documents describing and naively explaining the palace revolutions of the 18th century.

The second edition of the Complete Collection appeared yearly from 1830 through 1884 and included legislative acts from Dec. 12, 1825, to Feb. 28, 1881. This edition consisted of 55 volumes, each in several books, and incorporated more than 60,000 legislative documents. Appended to each volume were tables of ranks, drawings, preliminary sketches, and other materials, as well as chronological and alphabetized subject indexes. A four-volume alphabetical subject index to the second edition of the Complete Collection appeared in 1885, and an alphabetical index of names in 1911.

The third edition of the Complete Collection, published yearly up to 1916, covered the period from Mar. 1, 1881, to the end of 1913. It consisted of 33 volumes, with two sections in each, and included more than 40,000 legislative acts. There were no indexes for the edition as a whole, only chronological and alphabetical subject indexes in the second section of each volume.

Publication of the Complete Collection ceased with the collapse of the autocracy, although most of the laws in the collection remained in force until the October Revolution of 1917.


Korevo, N. Ob izdaniiakh zakonov Rossiiskoi imperii 1830-1899. St. Petersburg, 1900.
Korevo, N. Ob izdaniiakh zakonov Rossiiskoi imperii 1830–1906: Dopolnenie k izdannomu v 1900 g. St. Petersburg, 1907.
Korevo, N. Ob izdaniiakh zakonov Rossiiskoi imperii 1830–1911: Vtoroe dopolnenie k izdannomu v 1900 g. St. Petersburg, 1912.
Maikov, P. M. Vtoroe otdelenie Sobstvennoi ego imperatorskogo velichestva kantseliarii. St. Petersburg, 1906.
Eroshkin, N. P. Istoriia gosudarstvennykh uchrezhdenii dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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