Elizabeth’s Economic Measures

Автор: Maks Янв 15, 2021

At the close of the end of the 1500s, the Duke de Sully was put in charge of the treasury and all financial matters of France, a kingdom desolated by a century of religious conflict. Enjoying his king’s unlimited trust, Sully initiated a series of economic reforms, the major one being the levying of arrears taxes — on whatever the state considered peasants to be in default of. Sully thus directed that the immense tax burden the peasants had been under be shifted from direct taxation of peasants to indirect taxation on the sale of goods. Since peasants made few purchases, they were little affected.

A century and a half later, that is precisely what Empress Elizabeth did. It is difficult to say whether she and her imperial advisers, as fluent in French as they were in Russian, were familiar with de Sully’s works, which were not translated into Russian until the 1770s, some forty years after Elizabeth ascended the throne. A month following her midnight revolution Elizabeth abolished the Chancellory of Arrears Taxation and pardoned those in default of tax payments for the past seventeen years. In 1742 the imperial treasury’s main source of tax revenue became indirect taxation on saleable goods, initially salt and wine, the number of goods subject to the duty growing each year. In the same year the empress and her councillors reinstated the Berg-Council to manage heavy industry and the Manufactory Council to direct light industry, both of which had been eliminated in 1731.

The production of iron by smelting ore under the management of Elizabeth’s council grew annually at a rate of 25 to 60 thousand tonnes. In 1762 the Russian army, for the first time in its history, was provided with uniforms sewn exclusively of fabric produced domestically. In 1753 an imperial decree abrogated the collection of internal customs duties, charged to those moving goods from place to place within Russia. According to Russian historian Soloviev, Elizabeth was the ruler who took the final steps to complete the unification of the Russian city-states begun under Muscovite Grand Prince Ivan Kalita.

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