1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pobêdonostsev, Constantine Petrovich

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POBÊDONOSTSEV, CONSTANTINE PETROVICH (1827–1907), Russian jurist, state official, and writer on philosophical and literary subjects. Born in Moscow in 1827, he studied at the School of Law in St Petersburg, and entered the public service as an official in one of the Moscow departments of the senate. From 1860 to 1865 he was professor of Russian civil law in the Moscow University, and instructed the sons of Alexander II. in the theory of law and administration. In 1868 he became a senator in St Petersburg, in 1872 a member of the council of the empire, and in 1880 chief procurator of the Holy Synod. He always showed himself an uncompromising Conservative, and never shrank from expressing boldly his opinions. Consequently, in the so-called Liberal camp he was always denounced an an “obscurantist” and an enemy of progress. In the early years of the reign of Alexander II. (1855–1881), Pobêdonostsev maintained, though keeping aloof from the Slavophils, that Occidental institutions were radically bad in themselves and totally inapplicable to Russia. Parliamentary methods of administration, modern judicial organization and procedure, trial by jury, freedom of the press, secular education—these were among the principal objects of his aversion. He subjected all of them to a severe analysis in his Reflections of a Russian Statesman (English by R. C. Long, London, 1898). To these dangerous products of Occidental rationalism he found a counterpoise in popular vis inertiae, and in the respect of the masses for institutions developed slowly and automatically during the past centuries of national life. Among the practical deductions drawn from these premises is the necessity of preserving the autocratic power, and of fostering among the people the traditional veneration for the ritual of the national Church. In the sphere of practical politics he exercised considerable influence by inspiring and encouraging the Russification policy of Alexander III. (1881–1894), which found expression in an administrative Nationalist propaganda and led to a good deal of religious persecution. After the death of Alexander III. he lost much of his influence, for Nicholas II., while clinging to his father's Russification policy and even extending it to Finland, disliked the idea of systematic religious persecution, and was not wholly averse from the partial emancipation of the Russian Church from civil control. During the revolutionary tumult which followed the disastrous war with Japan Pobêdonostsev, being nearly 80 years of age, retired from public affairs. He died on the 23rd of March 1907.