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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



central administrative offices in Russia from the 16th to the early 18th century. The term originated from the word prikaz, used in the sense of a special assignment; beginning in the mid-16th century the term referred to a government institution.

The prikaz system took form in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Its development was greatly influenced by the reforms of the mid-16th century, when a network of permanent prikazy became established. They included the Prikaz Bol’shogo Dvortsa (Palace Prikaz, 1534), the Prikaz Bol’shogo Prikhoda (Finance Ministry, 1554), the Zemskii Prikaz (Zemstvo Prikaz, 1564; the chief police and judicial office for the city of Moscow), the Kazanskii Prikaz (Kazan Prikaz, 1560’s), the Kazennyi Prikaz (Treasury), and the Prikaz Kostromskoi Chetverti (Kostroma Chetvert’ Prikaz, 1560’s).

Other prikazy included the Lovchii Prikaz (Hunting Prikaz, 1509), the Prikaz Novgorodskoi Chetverti (Novgorod Chetvert’ Prikaz, 1560’s), the Prikaz Oruzheinoi Palaty (State Armory, first half of the 16th century), the Pechatnyi Prikaz (Printing Prikaz, 1553), the Polonianichnyi Prikaz (Prisoner-of-war Prikaz, mid-16th century), the Posol’skii Prikaz (Foreign Office, 1549), and the Razriadnyi Prikaz (War Office, first half of the 16th century). Also established were the Sokol’nichii Prikaz (Falconry Prikaz, 1550), the Streletskii Prikaz (Musketeers’ Prikaz, 1571), the Prikaz Ustiuzhskoi Chetverti (Ustiug Chetvert’ Prikaz, 1560’s), the Kholopii Prikaz (Serf Prikaz, mid-16th century), the Chelobitnyi Prikaz (Petitions Prikaz, mid-16th century), and the Iamskoi Prikaz (Communications and Transportation Prikaz, 1550).

Military reforms led to the establishment of the Razriadnyi Prikaz, which supervised the personnel and administered the military service of landowners; also established was the Pomestnyi Prikaz (Office of Land Grants), which supplied members of the gentry in military service with land. At this time, the Streletskii Prikaz was established to administer another branch of the Russian Army, the strel’tsy (semiprofessional musketeers). The reform of the transportation and communications system led to the establishment of the Iamskoi Prikaz (Communications and Transportation Prikaz) and the introduction of local administrative bodies to the organization of the Razboinyi Prikaz (Justice Office). As Russia’s international contacts expanded, the Posol’skii Prikaz became an independent administrative body. Certain partitioned land areas had come under state control, resulting in the establishment of territorial judicial, administrative, and financial departments and of regional judicial prikazy in addition to the state Prikaz Bol’shogo Prikhoda. Russia’s expansion to the southeast led to the establishment of the Prikaz Kazanskogo Dvortsa (Kazan Palace Prikaz), the central administration of the former Kazan and Astrakhan Khanates.

The term prikaz was not restricted to the central administrative bodies. It also designated such local court institutions as the Novgorod and Pskov court (dvortsovye) prikazy, created in the 1620’s and administered by the Prikaz Bol’shoi Kazny (Central Financial Office). The term also applied to the strel’tsy regiments. Each prikaz was a permanent institution that dealt with specific problems and had its own staff. However, the prikaz system lacked unity, and the functions of the different offices were not clearly defined: many of the prikazy combined legal, administrative,’ and financial functions as well as both functional and territorial administration.

The prikazy were directly controlled by the tsar and the Boyar Duma. The chief administrators received the title of judges in the 17th century, owing to the judicial functions performed by most prikazy. In the 16th century the majority of the prikazy were headed by d’iaki, and in the 17th century some of the larger prikazy were headed by boyars and okol’nichie (a court rank below that of boyar), while the lesser ones were administered by members of the Duma. However, at this time the d’iaki still controlled some of the most important prikazy: the Razriadnyi Prikaz, the Posol’skii Prikaz, and the Pomestnyi Prikaz. The actual work of administration was performed by the d’iaki and pod’iachie (minor officials). The staffs of the prikazy, called prikaznye liudi, numbered from three to 400. Initially the prikazy had no internal structural division; this began developing approximately in the early 17th century.

A new stage in the history of the prikaz system began in the 17th century; 11 prikazy were established between 1613 and 1619. The Kazachii Prikaz (Cossack Prikaz), the Inozemskii Prikaz (Foreign Affairs Prikaz), the Reitarskii Prikaz (Cavalry Prikaz), and the Prikaz Gorodovogo Dela (Urban Affairs Prikaz) were created within the military administration. In addition to the Prikaz Bol’shogo Prikhoda, the Prikaz Novoi Chetverti (Alcohol and Customs Revenues Prikaz) and the Prikaz Bol’shoi Kazny (Central Financial Office) were developed to deal with financial affairs, and the authority of the territorial cheti (financial departments) was considerably expanded. The first half of the 17th century also witnessed the establishment of temporary prikazy, which were abolished after they had fulfilled their assigned tasks.

In wartime, the Prikaz Sbora Ratnykh i Datochnykh Liudei (Recruitment Office), the Prikaz Denezhnogo i Khlebnogo Sbora (Office for Money and Grain Collection), and the Prikaz Sbora Piatinnykh i Zaprosnykh Deneg (Office for Extraordinary Taxes) came into existence. Many temporary criminal-investigation prikazy were also created. As a result, there were approximately 80 prikazy toward the mid-17th century. Attempts were made at this time to centralize the administration by appointing a single person to head several prikazy.

The state attempted to restructure its central institutions in the 1650’s and 1660’s by creating the Prikaz Tainykh Del (Bureau of Secret Affairs) and the Schetnyi Prikaz (Financial Office), which controlled the other prikazy and were directly accountable to the tsar. However, these two prikazy were short-lived. In the 1680’s the government again undertook to reform the prikazsystem with the aim of uniting related administrative functions within a single department. Most of the financial departments were transferred to the Posol’skii Prikaz, and the Prikaz Bol’shoi Kazny was replaced with an extensive financial administration that absorbed the Prikaz Bol’shogo Prikhoda and the Prikaz Novoi Chetverti. These two prikazy transferred to the new financial administration many of the functions of the financial departments.

The prikaz system was abolished in the early 18th century, with the reform of the administration and the introduction of the collegia. A few prikazy continued to function; for example, the Sibirskii Prikaz (Siberian Prikaz) existed until 1763.


Verner, I. I. O vremeni i prichinakh obrazovaniia Moskovskikh prikazov. Moscow, 1907.
Veselovskii, S. B. Prikaznyi stroi upravleniia Moskovskogo gosudarstva. Kiev, 1912.
Bogoiavlenskii, S. K. Prikaznye sud’i XVII v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.
Zimin, A. A. “O slozhenii prikaznoi sistemy na Rusi.” Doklady i soobshcheniia In-ta istorii AN SSSR, fasc. 3. Moscow, 1954.
Leont’ev, A. K. Obrazovanie prikaznoi sistemy upravleniia v Russkom gosudarstve. [Moscow] 1961.
Ustiugov, N. V. “Evoliutsiia prikaznogo stroia Russkogo gosudarstva v XVII v.” In the collection Absoliutizm v Rossii: Sb. st. Moscow, 1964.
Chernov, A. V. “O zarozhdenii prikaznogo upravleniia v protsesse obrazovaniia Russkogo tsentralizovannogo gosudarstva.” Tr. Moskovskogo gos. istoriko-arkhivnogo in-ta, vol. 19. Moscow, 1965.
“Prikazy.” In Sovetskaia Istoricheskaia Entsiklopediia, vol. 11. Moscow, 1968. (Contains list of prikazy.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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(69) Mennonites, too, had a distinct order, whereby the metrical books for each colony were maintained by village and district boards (prikazy).
Created by separate orders (prikazy), the number of the main executive governmental organs or chancelleries (prikazy) increased in the 17th century, as did their staff.
"Direktivy i prikazy gitlerovskogo pravitel'stva i germanskogo voennogo komandovaniia ob istreblenii sovetskikh voennoplennykh i mirnykh grazhdan," Pravda, 11 March 1944, 2-3, and other newspapers; Soviet Government Statements, 147.
The rapid expansion of the OBKhSS informant network during and immediately after the war can be seen as a legacy of the wartime conditions that produced these prikazy. Profound and lingering shortages created lucrative opportunities to those who would offer scarce services or deal in shadow markets.
The first phase (1711-18) was connected with the introduction of the governorships, which, like Pisar'kova, he sees as motivated by the need to enhance army revenue collection and troop mobilization by transferring authority for these tasks out of the old central chancelleries (prikazy) into the hands of the new governors and their chanceries.
Prikazy narodnogo komissara oborony SSSR (1943-1945 gg.), 13, pts.
All this cultural activity was taking place at the court, literally in or near the Kremlin, and involved the tsars as well as the aristocracy, the church elite, and some officials of the prikazy. Simeon was the teacher of Tsarevich Aleksei Alekseevich (who died in 1669); and Fedor's teachers knew Latin, even though it is doubtful that they taught it to the heir (Sedov, 178-81).
SpecifictejSim stupnem v pomyslne hierarchii slozek mezinarodniho rezimu jsou pravidla, ktera prevadi normy v konkretni prikazy nebo zakazy.
(37) The MVD issued other prikazy on this theme in 1949: no.
For example, "contrary to the impression that Peter neatly replaced the prikazy with a new `streamlined' administrative structure, throughout much of his reign business continued to be conducted in these old-style offices" (106).