seven temporary collegial bodies that were formed in Russia during the 18th century for the purpose of producing a new code of laws based on the Sobornoe Ulozhenie (Assembly Code) of 1649 and on laws that took effect after the promulgation of the Ulozhenie. A new code was needed because of the great changes that had taken place in the country’s socioeconomic structure and because of the strengthening of the absolute monarchy. The failure of the legislative commissions to produce a new code was due to the contradictory nature of the policies of tsarism, which was forced to stimulate the development of trade and industry at the same time that serfdom was developing, and to the contradictions within the ruling class of feudal lords.
The first legislative commission (1700–03) was known as the Palata o ulozhenii (Chamber of the Code). It was composed of clerks and officials of the Boyar Duma and was headed by the boyar I. B. Troekurov. The commission, however, was not equal to the task it had been given.
The second legislative commission (1714) was headed by Senator V. A. Apukhtin. It succeeded only in preparing supplements to certain chapters of the Ulozhenie of 1649.
The third legislative commission (1720–27) was instructed to make use of the legislation of Sweden, Livonia, and Estonia. In 1725 the commission prepared four parts of a new code (which were devoted primarily to criminal and partly to civil legal procedure), but they were never approved.
The fourth legislative commission (1728–30) was created to systematize the ukases and laws issued after 1649. Because of the commission’s lack of organization and its complete incompetence, Empress Anna Ivanovna dissolved it.
In the summer of 1730 the empress created the fifth legislative commission, which included several members of the previous commission and two members from the Iustits-Kollegiia (Collegium of Justice) and the Votchinnaia Kollegiia (Patrimonial Estate Collegium). The commission discussed drafts of codes dealing with courts of law and with votchiny (patrimonial estates).
The sixth legislative commission (1754–66) was created at the suggestion of Count P. I. Shuvalov in order to systematize existing ukases and to compile a new code in four parts. By late 1760 the commission had prepared two parts relating to criminal legislation (specifically, to courts and investigative matters) and the draft of another part on the status of citizens (devoted to problems of civil rights and relations among estates and classes). The struggle among palace cliques led to disbandment of the commission.
In 1767 the government of Catherine II created the last and most famous of the commissions, the Legislative Commission of 1767.