Nikolai Pavlov-Silvanskii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pavlov-Sil’vanskii, Nikolai Pavlovich


Born Feb. 1 (13), 1869, in Kronstadt; died Sept. 17 (30), 1908, in St. Petersburg. Russian historian.

Pavlov-Sil’vanskii graduated from the faculty of history and philology at the University of St. Petersburg. In 1892 he began working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 1899 at the ministry’s State Archives. From 1906 to 1908 he taught Russian history and the history of Russian law in schools in St. Petersburg. In 1907 he became professor of the history of Russian law at the Advanced Courses for Women. He was a member of the Constitutional Democratic (Cadet) Party.

In his approach to history, Pavlov-Sil’vanskii was influenced by S. M. Solov’ev and the Western European positivists. In the 1890’s he was affected by the sociological ideas of “legal Marxism,” and during the Revolution of 1905–07 he studied the works of Marx, Engels, and Plekhanov. However, he interpreted the historical theory chiefly in the spirit of economic materialism.

Pavlov-Sil’vanskii’s chief contribution was to demonstrate, by comparative historical analysis, that in the 12th through 16th centuries there existed in Russia a feudal society of the same type as that found in medieval Western Europe. But in his books on this subject, Feudalism in Ancient Rus’ (1907) and Feudalism in Appanage Rus’ (1910), he viewed the Western European feudal system solely as the sum of its social, political, and legal relations. Pavlov-Sil’vanskii also dealt with the reforms of Peter I. He was an innovator in the study of the Russian liberation movement and Russian social thought of the 18th and 19th centuries as treated in the works of such figures as A. N. Radi-shchev and P. I. Pestel’.


Soch, vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1909–10.
Proekty reform v zapiskakh sovremennikov Petra Velikogo. St. Petersburg, 1897.


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Nevelev, G. A. “N. P. Pavlov-Sil’vanskii — istorik dekabristov.” In Oswboditel’noe dvizhenie v Rosii, collection 1. Saratov, 1971. Pages 53–69.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.