Nakaz of Catherine II

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nakaz of Catherine II


(“Instruction” of Catherine II), a philosophical and legal treatise written as a guide to the deputies to the komissiia ob ulozhenii (Legislative Commission) of 1767. The nakaz was published that same year in Russian, French, German, and Latin. It consisted of 22 chapters, comprising 655 articles of state, criminal, and civil law and procedure, along with an introduction, a conclusion, and two supplements. Phraseology drawn from various Enlightenment theories (more than 400 articles were copied nearly verbatim from such writers as Montesquieu and Beccaria) was combined with such features as an attempted justification of the necessity of autocracy in Russia and an endorsement of the practice of barshchina (corvée). The nakaz was revised several times, especially its 11th chapter, which deals with the peasants; although all mention of limiting serfdom was removed from the chapter, the nakaz was not distributed to local governmental offices and had no relevance to the actual practice of the government.


Beliavskii, M. T. Krest’ianskii vopros ν Rossii nakanune vosstaniia E. I. Pugacheva. Moscow, 1965.


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