Russian Nobility: Historical & Legal Status
Under the Imperial regime, Russia was governed primarily, if not exclusively, by statutory law, i.e., by duly enacted laws and regulations which were incorporated in the 16 volumes of the Complete Code of Laws of the Russian Empire.
Princes of the Russian Empire
The title of Prince or “Kniaz” (Князь) is one of the oldest Russian titles of nobility. Its use was, until the reforms of Peter the Great, limited to the ancient nobility, most notably the descendants of the Princes Riurik and Gedimin.
Counts of the Russian Empire
The title of Count, or “Graf” (Граф), was introduced into Russia by Peter the Great as part of his nobiliary reforms. The word itself was taken from the German, and was originally created to reward families of ancient ancestry who supported the Emperor’s westernizing reforms, but who did not possess titles of their own.
Barons of the Russian Empire
The title of Baron (Барон) was the most frequently granted title in Imperial Russia, largely because in a great many parts of the Russian Empire, titles of Swedish, Baltic, Polish, and German origin were already in use, and were later confirmed for use by the Russian State.
Polish Nobility in the Russian Empire
Many Poles resided in the South-Western provinces of the Russian Empire. Some families moved there, others continued to live on the lands of their ancestors, which became part of Russia after Poland was divided.
Georgian Nobility in the Russian Empire
With the annexation of the Kingdom of Georgia in 1801, Emperor Paul I Petrovich recognized the following families of the former Kingdom of Georgia as princes of the Russian Empire.
Russian Nobility Source Materials
The Following are a list of sources on the Nobility of the Russian Empire, as well as genealogical texts and works of related interest. Some of these are readily available, most are rare or specialist texts, only available through libraries.