Elena Marasinova. "I Need a Different, Better Type of Freedom": Fronde of Russian Nobility in the 2nd Half of the 18th Century

Emerging of nobility Fronde in Russia in the 2nd half of the 18th century, which was unique for the general European context at that time, was determined by certain specifics of socio-political development of Russian society and state.

Weakness of the third class, regime of autocracy and serfdom, powerful mechanism of regime's social control over the establishment of "service class gentry", exclusivity of a privileged position and everyday freedom of the nobility, the elite of which was the most westernized, mobile, wealthy and ambitious social group — the combination of these circumstances generated Fronde sentiment among the most educated and intellectual circles and, eventually, led to ideological and psychological dissent in the upper class milieu. 

The protest was only emerging in the 2nd half of the 18th century, it wasn't always conscious and rarely went beyond a single person which predicated complex and contradictory characters of "taunting mockers" of the Catherinian reign.

•       In conceptual terms, Fronde sentiments meant, on the one hand, the rejection of prevalent values: state service, ranks, relations in the court environment and even the "presumption of innocence" of ruler's persona; and on the other hand were connected to the cultivation of the life ideal of "a private man."

•        In terms of negative behavior, the situation manifested in severe criticism of the nobility's morals, which however never surpassed personal diaries, personal letters and literary satire. At the same time the support of Fronde could be manifested in the selection of alternative strategies and preferences: amicable circle, Masonic fraternity, solitude at the estate, leaving to Europe etc.

Fronde sentiment among the noble elite weren't political, they weren't targeted against the foundations of autocracy, were often manifested by internal isolation and attempts to escape the role of the "servant of the Tzar and fatherland" thrust upon them. The manifestations of their opposition aren't always easily grasped from the sources and require specific research methods. In terms of this finesse of observing the state of personality, one could learn from the regime and the most autocratic empress, who was very interested in discovering "dangerous reverie": "First, a person commences to feel boredom and sadness, sometimes due to idleness and sometimes from reading books: there he would start complaining about everything that surrounds him, conceive to build air castles, meaning that all people are doing everything wrong and the government itself, however hard it tries, displeases him. Sometimes several of them came together but this fact made them quite more dangerous."