No GNW (or “Peter goes South”)

Also, given that Conde is responsible for Maria Leszczynska ending up Queen of France instead of Russian Grand Duchess (provided she DID instead of Danish candidate), this family being used as a Russian vehicle of influence in France is interesting:)
 
Maria Leszczynska ending up Queen of France instead of Russian Grand Duchess (provided she DID instead of Danish candidate),
Which to be honest is as silly as Marta Skavronskaya randomly turning up ITTL.
Leszczynski was propped up ITTL but it happened AFTER the marriage was decided IOTL.
An interesting personage to end up as Queen of France is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyxena_of_Hesse-Rotenburg (which only takes a small butterfly of this girl https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Christine_of_Sulzbach,_Princess_of_Piedmont living to 1726, by having an alternate pregnancy for her).
You wouldn't even need to invent alternate Princes of Blood for France (which you won't anyway) - just more manageable number of Mesdames, 3 instead of 7.
 
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Which to be honest is as silly as Marta Skavronskaya randomly turning up ITTL.
Leszczynski was propped up ITTL but it happened AFTER the marriage was decided IOTL.
An interesting personage to end up as Queen of France is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyxena_of_Hesse-Rotenburg (which only takes a small butterfly of this girl https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Christine_of_Sulzbach,_Princess_of_Piedmont living to 1725).
You wouldn't even need to invent alternate Princes of Blood for France (which you won't anyway) - just more manageable number of Mesdames, 3 instead of 7.

Thing is that I'm not sure that Russia wants to be involved in French affairs, especially given what's about to happen , not to mention that such involvement has more potential to produce more troubles.

Russia already got everything what it wants from France, their Influence in Poland is gone, with upcoming partition Russia should reinforce itself as a mediator of central and Eastern Europe and prove it's diplomatic dominance (beside it's alliance with Sweden Russia will have ability to play Austria against Prussia and vice versa). Poland on it's own post partition will have to play good with Russia and if anything most resurgent thoughts will be directed mostly to Prussia,Austria and Sweden as they have more valuable Polish lands opposed to Russia who has poor and mostly Orthodox lands (not that Russia will support such thoughts).

Otherwise only conflict with France could be in in influence in Ottoman court and even there it's unlikely that Ottomans will attack them on French beckoning, especially given that France doesn't want conflict with Russia and Russia can always find ready ally in Austria in case of this attack.

Otherwise trade relations are more or less minimal, so ultimately extending bribes and political favors to influence French court that's to far from Russian sphere of influence seems like needles waste of resources.
 
Thing is that I'm not sure that Russia wants to be involved in French affairs, especially given what's about to happen , not to mention that such involvement has more potential to produce more troubles.

Russia already got everything what it wants from France, their Influence in Poland is gone, with upcoming partition Russia should reinforce itself as a mediator of central and Eastern Europe and prove it's diplomatic dominance (beside it's alliance with Sweden Russia will have ability to play Austria against Prussia and vice versa). Poland on it's own post partition will have to play good with Russia and if anything most resurgent thoughts will be directed mostly to Prussia,Austria and Sweden as they have more valuable Polish lands opposed to Russia who has poor and mostly Orthodox lands (not that Russia will support such thoughts).

Otherwise only conflict with France could be in in influence in Ottoman court and even there it's unlikely that Ottomans will attack them on French beckoning, especially given that France doesn't want conflict with Russia and Russia can always find ready ally in Austria in case of this attack.

Otherwise trade relations are more or less minimal, so ultimately extending bribes and political favors to influence French court that's to far from Russian sphere of influence seems like needles waste of resources.
That's not an involvement, that's a marginal vector for influence (while potentially more important than Austrian).
A discussion of involvement would happen if say Polyxena of Hesse is a Queen of France, dies as OTL and there is a discussion for Louis XV to remarry to the ATL Elisabeth Petrovna (who would be 23 at this point).
 
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That's not an involvement, that's a marginal vector for influence (while potentially more important than Austrian).
A discussion of involvement would happen if say Polyxena of Hesse is a Queen of France, dies as OTL and there is a discussion for Louis XV to remarry to an ATL Elisabeth Petrovna (who would be 23 at this point).

Problem is the cost of that vector, for example
Or he may not https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duchess_Auguste_of_Württemberg
was to marry a French prince of blood.
So quite likely ITTL when her ATL sister is a Russian Empress, the match can be attempted.
With this guy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_François_Joseph,_Prince_of_Conti (another possible match is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Joseph,_Prince_of_Condé but he's a bit young agewise).
With the idea that MAYBE now Russians can make him a Polish king, though they are fairly set on the idea of the Family, and the law preventing the elections of foreigners passed, so we got Poniatowski instead.

Bringing prince of French blood on polish throne, or making concessions there for that Vectors could theoretically be worth far less than said Vector on the French court . Especially since this has potential to reverse loss of French influence in Poland.

Personally i believe that concessions in Poland that is on Russian border and part of carefully planned diplomatic situation are far more costly than vector of influence in France that won't be Russian concern for a time.

Basically it's sometime better to keep your cards close to heart and not overextend while moving in to secure current situation.
 
Bringing prince of French blood on polish throne, or making concessions there for that Vectors could theoretically be worth far less than said Vector on the French court . Especially since this has potential to reverse loss of French influence in Poland.

Personally i believe that concessions in Poland that is on Russian border and part of carefully planned diplomatic situation are far more costly than vector of influence in France that won't be Russian concern for a time.

Basically it's sometime better to keep your cards close to heart and not overextend while moving in to secure current situation.
That depends on how good the relations between the new Empress and her sister are, though. If they are minimal, why not? But this is to keep situation reasonably close to OTL when Paul I and Francis II were brothers in law, while using previous generation, and Prince Conde is the best of OTL proposals for Auguste.
Russian court can always pretend to not care, especially since unlike her mother-in-law Maria Feodorovna seems to be not interested in any kinds of intrigues, let alone the one on behalf of in-laws of her younger sis.
 
That depends on how good the relations between the new Empress and her sister are, though. If they are minimal, why not? But this is to keep situation reasonably close to OTL when Paul I and Francis II were brothers in law, while using previous generation, and Prince Conde is the best of OTL proposals for Auguste.
Russian court can always pretend to not care, especially since unlike her mother-in-law Maria Feodorovna seems to be not interested in any kinds of intrigues, let alone the one on behalf of in-laws of her younger sis.
I tend to agree with @Kriss that from the Russian position the closer French links do not worth trouble, especially as far as the PLC is concerned.

To start with, IITL King Stanislaw is a nobody and there are absolutely no moral or political restraints in doing to the PLC whatever Russia, Prussia, Sweden and Austria want. Replacing him with a French prince may create at least some diplomatic problems; not that they’d mean much practically but why have them? Then, in this scenario the French court may want to back its prince by providing him funds for bribing the Polish nobility and creating at least some support base and, finally, a French prince (unless a complete idiot) is less likely to embark upon the course of reforms which in OTL resulted in Bar Confederacy and other events leading to the first partition because for him the PLC is just a foreign place which provides him with a royal title; the “reforms” will be limited to the things like establishing a theater, inventing the fancy uniforms for his personal Guards, etc.
Stanislav was, seemingly, a sincerely patriotic and wished well to his country but he was not up to the task and in OTL he was pushed by CII into suicidal political course. IITL the push is weaker but he still has the “good intentions” which will led him to you know where.

As far as other components are involved:
  • During the decades of peace and extensive trade Russia is almost doomed to have at least as strong footing at the Ottoman court as the French and its trade relations are more important (food supplies for Constantinople). There are no OTL ideas about further expansion at the Ottoman expense, meddling into the Ottoman handling of its Christian subjects, etc. And it is a little bit too late for a party of revenge to argue for a new war: the political conditions which brought the second Ottoman war of CII simply do not exist.
  • Internationally, after the 7YW France is of no serious importance for the growing Russian naval trade because the friendly relations with the Brits are more important both in the terms of having the ports to stop on the route, cooperation in the places like Canton and perhaps in putting a joined pressure upon the Dutch VOC. The same goes for the traditional trade: Britain is, by far, more important trade partner with whom Russia has a positive trade balance while France does not even bother to sign a profitable trade agreement. It may turn into a major wheat buyer in the future but so far nobody has a crystal ball and in OTL this future was rather remote.
 
I tend to agree with @Kriss that from the Russian position the closer French links do not worth trouble, especially as far as the PLC is concerned.

To start with, IITL King Stanislaw is a nobody and there are absolutely no moral or political restraints in doing to the PLC whatever Russia, Prussia, Sweden and Austria want. Replacing him with a French prince may create at least some diplomatic problems; not that they’d mean much practically but why have them? Then, in this scenario the French court may want to back its prince by providing him funds for bribing the Polish nobility and creating at least some support base and, finally, a French prince (unless a complete idiot) is less likely to embark upon the course of reforms which in OTL resulted in Bar Confederacy and other events leading to the first partition because for him the PLC is just a foreign place which provides him with a royal title; the “reforms” will be limited to the things like establishing a theater, inventing the fancy uniforms for his personal Guards, etc.
Stanislav was, seemingly, a sincerely patriotic and wished well to his country but he was not up to the task and in OTL he was pushed by CII into suicidal political course. IITL the push is weaker but he still has the “good intentions” which will led him to you know where.

As far as other components are involved:
  • During the decades of peace and extensive trade Russia is almost doomed to have at least as strong footing at the Ottoman court as the French and its trade relations are more important (food supplies for Constantinople). There are no OTL ideas about further expansion at the Ottoman expense, meddling into the Ottoman handling of its Christian subjects, etc. And it is a little bit too late for a party of revenge to argue for a new war: the political conditions which brought the second Ottoman war of CII simply do not exist.
  • Internationally, after the 7YW France is of no serious importance for the growing Russian naval trade because the friendly relations with the Brits are more important both in the terms of having the ports to stop on the route, cooperation in the places like Canton and perhaps in putting a joined pressure upon the Dutch VOC. The same goes for the traditional trade: Britain is, by far, more important trade partner with whom Russia has a positive trade balance while France does not even bother to sign a profitable trade agreement. It may turn into a major wheat buyer in the future but so far nobody has a crystal ball and in OTL this future was rather remote.
Agree to this. So either Auguste of Wurttemberg gets the OTL husband, or marries Conde AND Louis XV scraps the plans as he scrapped IOTL, as even in the world with Polyxena of Hesse as Queen of France he's still going to marry Dauphin to Saxony, and thus would veto anything that makes the Condes too grand.
And in fact, MAY veto Auguste's match to Prince of Conde for these very reasons, so she ends up in OTL Thurn and Taxis match, leaving the higherborn stuff for the OTL Paul's generation.
 
131. The best intentions….

They shout to fools: "Fools! Fools!.." And that's very offensive to them.”
B. Okudzava
“The Evil brought by people who are ready to sacrifice themselves for the triumph of truth or justice is greater than what they want to eradicate.”
Mario Vargas Llosa
“In the most difficult stage of cretinism, the lack of thoughts is compensated by ideological fanaticism.”

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
“If you are staying up to your chin in a deep s—t, don’t make waves”
old wisdom​


Intermission. In OTL the First Partition was to a great degree a byproduct of CII’s confused policy which she was pushing against advices of her ambassador in the PLC and her foreign minister. On one hand, she did not want anything like the partition and was eventually forced to it but OTOH it is rather hard to consider the policies which she was pushing through as anything but a prelude to the partition, which in opinion of some historians they were even if there was a big time gap and almost a complete reverse of the policies in between.

This is, of course, if we stick to the notion of her being a wise politician to which, IMO, there is very little evidence. She was steadily leading Russia from one problem to another not being capable of fully using advantages of the victorious wars (to which each time Russia was unprepared), making silly arrangements like an attempt to turn the Crimean Khanate into the “enlightened monarchy” and turning her own political course 180 degrees: first pushing for the unrealistic (at that time) reforms in the PLC and then acting against the reforms which it finally introduced. All this being accompanied by the completely mishandled economy, accumulating a huge foreign debt and internal administration breaking all records of corruption and ineptitude.

Look at the 1st Partition. Even when some kind of accommodation on the dissidents issue was in sight, CII kept pushing the issue of the “equal rights” (even after she was pointed out that it does not make too much of a practical sense) knowing well that it is going to produce a severe backlash. She got the Bar Confederacy and a minor skirmish resulted in a war with the Ottomans to which Russia was not prepared to such a degree that it could not even use its brilliant victories for enforcing a fast peace thus allowing Prussia and Austria to blackmail Russia into making a lousy peace (most of the fighting of the next war was for the territories which were earlier taken and returned; arrangements regarding the CH were plain idiotic and to a great degree triggered the next war). While it was not really to the Russian advantage, CII simply could not resist because Russia was out of its resources) and eventually into agreement to the partition. By which time thanks to her policy of the open violation of the PLC sovereignty (Russian military presence, interference into Sejm’s proceedings, arrests and exiles of the inconvenient figures) CII solidly made Russia into “the Enemy” so that Prussia and Austria looked like much lesser evils.


IITL, the 1st Partition is mostly a byproduct of the PLCs own internal problems: the powers involved are not actively interfering into the PLCs internal affairs until situation completely got out of hands and then used it to their advantage. Peter II is not in a position, militarily and financially, which encourages a foreign blackmail and he is a main driving force behind the whole schema. Cynicism instead of foolishness.



The reign of Stanislaw August started rather well in the terms of not making the waves (at least the big ones).

  • The king changed the custom of holding Senate councils, convening them twice a week for closed meetings. In the first years of his reign, he appointed a substitute for the government, the so-called King's Conference with Ministers. It consisted of four chancellors: Augustus Czartoryski, Stanisław Lubomirski, Jacek Bartlomej Ogrodzki and the royal brothers.
  • In September 1764, he began to create a royal office, the so-called Cabinet, headed by Jacek Ogrodzky.
  • In order to atone for the broken tradition of coronation in 1764 in Warsaw, not in Krakow, the newly elected king decided to apologize to St. Stanislaus, the patron saint of Poland [1], in another way - by establishing the Order of St. Stanislaus in 1765. This Order became the second, after the highest state award of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth - the Order of the White Eagle, state award of Poland.​
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  • He was planning to create a great art gallery in Warsaw and hired few agents in London for this purpose.
  • Becoming King of Poland, Stanisław August got many mistresses (which was definitely both safe and popular royal activity). One of them, Elzbieta Grabovskaya (Shidlovskaya), presumably later became his secret morganatic wife. Their relationship lasted about twenty years. And, as befitting a true Father of the Nation, the list included not only representatives of the top aristocracy ( Anna Maria Lubomirska, Elżbieta z Branickich Sapieżyn, Izabela Czartoryska, Joanna z Sułkowskich Sapieżyna, Anna Charlotte Dorothea von Medem, etc.) but also the representatives of the lower classes including Italian singer and French fortune teller (who was a mistress of his brother as well) who held something of a high-society bordello in Warsaw. For Italian actress Cecilia Caterina Filipazzi Gattai Tomatis he even built a nice palace in Warsaw, Królikarnia, which was described as “The villa in Krulikarn was a little more than a first-class brothel” in which actress’ husband acted as a pimp.
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  • Wishing to strengthen the defense system of the state, the king founded the Knight's School on March 15, 1765, which was to become an elite military academy that educates future cadres for the army of the Republic. He himself became the head of the cadet corps of this institution, for the maintenance of which income from royal estates was allocated. Stanisław August allocatedii 1.5 million Polish zlotys from his own treasury for this purpose, and later paid 600,000 zlotys per year for its maintenance (200,000 from the royal treasury and 400,000 from the treasury of the Republic). This made it possible to train 200 cadets per year. He also donated his Kazimierz Palace in Warsaw to a knightly school.
  • Fulfilling Article 45 of his obligations signed in the conventions, Stanislav August began to carry out monetary reform. The commission appointed by the king to mint coins took up a project to introduce new monetary rates. Back in 1765, mints were opened, closed in the Republic for three generations. On February 10, 1766, the Grand Treasurer of the Crown Theodore Wessel issued a coin station wagon, which introduced a new course of zloty.
  • Reforms of 1764–1766 improved the proceedings of the Sejm. Majority voting for non-crucial items, including most economic and tax matters, was introduced, with binding instructions from sejmiks being outlawed.
  • In 1765, he founded the National Theatre in Warsaw.
  • In the same year, the magazine "Monitor" was founded under his patronage.
  • At his request, the Commission on National Education was established in 1773.
  • The king also founded a palace and garden complex in Łazienki.
This was just fine both with the Polish nobility and the neighbors and if King Stanislaw continued along the same lines he would keep ruling happily ever after.

Unfortunately, he also had some more ambitious ideas, which he tried to push through to the great irritation of his subjects. The first of them was military reform. To an objective observer it was abundantly clear, especially after the LNW and WOPS, that the existing military system was a joke. But who said that the Polish nobility were the objective observers? The whole reason for szlachta’s existence and privileged status was its position as the military class which in the case of a war was producing a bulk of the PLC army. Who cares that on a battlefield these troops proved to be a laughingstock of Europe as long as a personal bravery and fencing skills of its individual members were not in doubt? Yes, it was consistently beaten but there were also the stories of the glorious individual exploits and the defeats had been routinely attributed to the mismanagement on a high level, treachery and the dishonorable warfare methods of the opponents. And now that nephew of the Family who never participated in any war was trying to teach the Hetmans and the whole szlachta how to fight? What’s even worse, he is preaching substitution of Pospolite ruszenie with the despised infantry.
1652553196716.jpeg

And the szlachta will be doing what exactly? Anyway, how the mercenaries could replace the noble knights encouraging each other to charge the enemy? Then, there were some unfortunate remarks about a huge numbers of the non-combatant “parasites” which Pospolite ruszenie usually has in its baggage train… The nobility was seriously pissed off and agreed only upon some expansion of the Royal Guards [2] leaving the old system pretty much intact.

Then, there was an unfortunate issue of the dissidents which Stanislaw could not easily shrug off due to a consistent diplomatic pressure from all corners [3]. So far, the issue was kept on a back burner and could remain so if not activities of Soltyk who used his considerable, if rather misdirected, energy to keep it alive as a major issue of the “national survival”. His staff of 15 secretaries had been busy almost around the clock writing and sending letters to all corners of the PLC in which, with a certain stretch of a truth and very livid imagination. it was argued that unobstructed Orthodox Church will result in destruction of the Catholic Faith in the PLC. In his efforts he was greatly helped by message from the Pope encouraging his efforts.

As a reaction to these effort there was a counter-reaction, two confederacies, Protestant and Orthodox, demanding respect of their rights. The delegations had been received by the King, which in the PLC amounted to their official recognition [4]. However, the project of granting equal rights to dissidents was such a revolutionary break with the political tradition of the Republic that even the Czartoryski Family camp ceased to support it at the Chaplitsky Sejm. The Sejm of 1766 restored the principle of liberum veto and, contrary to the diplomatic intervention of Russia, Prussia, Great Britain, Sweden and Denmark, at the request of Catholic bishops, confirmed the privileged position of the Catholic Church. The Sejm of 1766 also restored the principle of liberum veto for the national assembly and while the law adopted by the Sejm on the night of November 29-30, 1766, established majority voting in regional assemblies, it did most harm to the monarch himself, as he was no longer able to disperse them so that they do not elect deputies hostile to the court.

Politically, Stanislaw found himself alone and potentially could rely only upon the Russian support which was not coming: failure to push through the dissident issue made his further support meaningless. The “interested sides” had just to wait for a further deterioration of the situation to made their move. [5]

____________
[1] According to church legend, Krakow Bishop Stanisław was killed in 1079 during a divine service right in the church by King Bolesław and later, in the XIII century, canonized and recognized as a patron of Poland.
[2] IIRC, this debate happened later but who cares?
[3] In OTL CII made it “her” issue and kept pestering her Foreign Minister, Ambassador in the PLC and pro-Russian magnates. As a result, she (and Russia) got all hatred while the Old Fritz (who kept inciting her) was all pink and fluffy.
[4] Not to be confused with the obligation or intent to take any action. 😉
[5] In OTL CII ordered invasion of 40,000 Russian troops after Stanislav’s failure to enforce the dissident issue and organized confederation in defense of the “golden liberties”. Rather ironically, one of the items of this confederacy was … defense of the Catholicism. As a result, Soltyk became the Russian ally (for a while). On February 24, 1768, the republic signed a treaty of eternal friendship with Russia, on the basis of which it became a Russian protectorate. Catherine II, for her part, guaranteed the inviolability of the borders and internal structure of this state. On February 26, cardinal laws were adopted (including liberum veto, free elections, the right to disobey the king, the exclusive right of the nobility to hold offices, full power of the nobility over peasants - with tougher liability in case of murder, and Glavorism), as well as the immutable right to equal rights for dissidents. Part of the nobility, opposing actual dependence on Russia, organized the Bar Confederation on February 29, 1768, which launched a war against Russia in defense of the independence of the republic and the Catholic faith. On March 24, 1768, at the Senate Council, even despite most senators, he was ready to sign a resolution summoning Russian troops to suppress the Bar Confederation to show his zeal and unwavering loyalty to Russia. In October 1768, Turkey declared war on Russia and accused the Republic of violating the Treaty of Karlovitz Treaty.
 
Agree to this. So either Auguste of Wurttemberg gets the OTL husband, or marries Conde AND Louis XV scraps the plans as he scrapped IOTL, as even in the world with Polyxena of Hesse as Queen of France he's still going to marry Dauphin to Saxony, and thus would veto anything that makes the Condes too grand.
And in fact, MAY veto Auguste's match to Prince of Conde for these very reasons, so she ends up in OTL Thurn and Taxis match, leaving the higherborn stuff for the OTL Paul's generation.
That said, switcheroo situation "Polyxena of Hesse-Rotenburg as Queen of France, third wife of Polyxena's OTL hubby as his second wife, Maria Leszczynska as Comtesse de Clermont" is possible, plausible in the TL when in 1710ies Maria's father is a nobody, and does not entangle Russia with anything. The only thing that gets wildly altered with this is second line of first tier French nobility should you be needing to move any personage from later time to the frontlines, as if Maria still has the huge bunch of daughters as OTL, the Clermont daughters are not important enough for foreign marriage but good enough to marry into Rohans, Richelieus and so on.
Also, the Dauphin of France is likely to have a personality of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Amadeus_III_of_Sardinia and Prince of Piedmont - personality of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Benedetto,_Duke_of_Chablais
But since both are coming into foreground as rulers in 1770ies, we're not there yet.
 
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Just thinking of who can Maria marry so that a) her dad makes short list for Lorraine as described; b) not to the King of France as the match in current circumstances is ASB (her father was not propped up as king of anything TTL). That's why the combination, not because of some sudden Francophilic fad. And because the 1770ies are close.
 
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Maria Leszczynska as Comtesse de Clermont
Which makes perfect sense as a) you can't just give Lorraine to a French prince of blood, even though descending from House of Guises; b) you CAN give it to his sonless father-in-law, which ensures the Conde-Clermonts inherit Lorraine when old Stanislaw kicks the bucket; and the first tier history of Europe looks reasonably preserved.
 
132. Big reforms

In fact, we have only two options for economic reforms. The first is realistic: aliens arrive and do everything they need for us. The second one is fantastic: we do everything ourselves.”
“The middle class assured the government that it would not arrange a real revolution. In response, the government assured the middle class that it had heard its message and would not arrange real reforms.”
“Since it turned out that reforms in the army were unsuccessful, we need to re-reform the reform, including the uniforms that were deformed during the reform.”
“The great reformer comes not to destroy, but to create by destroying...”


In 1763 Peter II inherited from his grandfather the empire which was in a seemingly good condition politically, economically and militarily which does not mean that there were no known problems: Emperor Alexey dedicated too much time and resources expanding the Russian Empire, absorbing the new territories and expanding the trade to start major domestic reforms even if such plans had been in work.

Now, with Europe at peace and newly-established trade relations in Asia being seemingly stable and expanding, Peter could start implementing his father’s (and his own) plans for the domestic reforms. They had to start from the top.

The Council of State. The first task of this newly-created entity was to help the emperor "in systematic work on the reform of the formless building of government of the empire."

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Members of the State Council were appointed and dismissed by the emperor, they could be any person, regardless of class affiliation, rank, age and education. By position, the members included the ministers. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council of State were appointed annually by the emperor. The powers of the Council of State provided for the consideration of:
  • New laws or legislative proposals, as well as changes in laws already adopted;
  • Internal management issues that require abolition, restriction, addition or clarification of previous laws;
  • Domestic and foreign policy issues in emergency situations;
  • Annual estimate of general state receipts and expenses (since 1862 renamed into “state list of income and expenses”);
  • Reports of the State Audit Office for the execution of the list of income and expenses ;
  • Emergency financial measures, etc.
The Council of State consisted of a general meeting, the State Chancellery, departments and standing committees plus various temporary commissions. All cases were received by the State Council only through the State Chancellery addressed to the Secretary of State who headed it. After determining whether the case was under the jurisdiction of the State Council, the Secretary of State distributed it to the relevant office, which prepared it for hearing in the relevant department of the State Council. Urgent cases by order of the emperor could be immediately transferred to the general meeting of the State Council, but usually the case first passed the relevant department, and then fell into the general meeting. According to the manifesto of January 1, 1764, all adopted laws were to pass through the Council of State, but in fact this rule was not always observed. The decision in the departments and the general meeting was taken by a majority vote, but the decisive word remained with the emperor, who could also approve the opinion of the minority of the State Council, if it was more consistent with his views. The State Council subordinated ministries during the emperor's absence, and in case of a prolonged absence of the emperor in the capital, the decisions of the majority of the general meeting of the State Council would take the force of law.
State Council had the following departments:
  • Department of the laws (proposals regarding the administrative and legal reforms)
  • Department of the civic and religious affairs (judicial practices, various legal cases, etc.)
  • Department of state economy (finances, trade, industry and education)
  • Military department (Issues of military legislation; recruitment and armament of the army; creation of central and local institutions of the military department; means to meet its economic needs, etc.)
The Emperor was a chairman of the State Council but he could appoint one of the Council members to this position. The Council of State did not publish laws, but served as an advisory body in their development. Its task is to centralize the legislature, ensure the uniformity of legal norms, and avoid contradictions in laws.

Senate and Synod.
  • The Senate was declared the supreme body in the empire, concentrating the highest administrative, judicial and control authorities. He was given the right to make representations about the decrees issued if they contradicted other laws. In practice its functions had been more or less limited to the judicial oversight. It did not include the top ranking imperial officials and had no direct official link to the Emperor.
  • The Holy Synod was also changed; its members were the highest spiritual hierarchs - metropolitans and bishops, but the Synod was headed by a civil official with the rank of Prosecutor-General. Representatives of the highest clergy no longer met on their own initiative but were summoned to meetings of the Synod at the choice of the Prosecutor-General whose rights were significantly expanded.
The Ministries.
This was complicated because, while the previous emperor already renamed the original Peter’s Collegiums into the Ministries, they retained most of their initial (dis-)organization. Decisions by a collective vote were not officially abolished and it was up to each specific minister to chose decision-making model which he preferred.

Even worse was financial aspect. In an absence of a general budget practically every ministry had, besides funds allocated from the Treasury, its own sources of income which it usually did not report so it was close to impossible to figure out the exact spendings of each ministry, their place in the general finances of the empire and a real tax burden upon the population. In addition, each ministry did not consider the state budget mandatory at all and often requested additional funding, while not spending all the money or even moving them from one expense article to another.

The budget was secret and not published anywhere and, not surprisingly, the assumptions were that the financial situation is worse than in a reality.

As a result, one of the most important parts of the ministerial reform was concentration of all state incomes and expenses in a single ministry responsible for all aspects of the state budget.
Reform created the following ministries [1]:
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Army
  • Navy
  • Internal Affairs
  • Finances - “Management of state units, which deliver to the government the income necessary for the maintenance of it, and general distribution of all income to different parts of public expenditure”. By the end of each year the minister had to present a general budget for the coming year. The budget had to be published.
  • Justice
  • Commerce - international and domestic trade, communications and the customs.
  • Education - “Is in charge of all scientific societies, academies, universities, all general educational institutions, except for theological, military and those schools that are especially established for the education of young people to a separate part of management.”
  • Ministry of the state properties - in charge of state lands and other state property in the Russian Empire.
  • Ministry of the Imperial Court - united all parts of the court administration outside the control of the Senate or any other supreme establishment. It was headed by the Minister of the Court, who was under the direct supervision of the sovereign. Having a separate ministry with a clearly defined budget ended the practice of “unrestricted” court expenses.
A single general organizational structure of the central government was established. The ministry was headed by the minister and his comrade (deputy). The minister had an office and a council of minister. The apparatus of the Ministry consisted of several departments divided into sub-departments, which in turn were divided into tables. The strict principle of unity of command was established. The minister obeyed the emperor, being appointed and removed by his choice. The directors of departments reported directly to the minister. Heads of sub-departments reported to the directors of departments. The heads of tables were subordinate to the heads of sub-departments.

More about finances (just because of their critical importance). During the reign of Alexey the tax burden had been gradually shifting from the Petrian poll tax toward the indirect taxes because it was simply impossible to keep increasing the poll tax. As of 1762, indirect taxes already give 61.6% of income, and direct taxes - 38.4% (under Peter, the ratio was inverse - 24.9% and 55.5%). 73% of all expenses are military, 10% - expenses for the court, and 16% - for the rest of public administration.

In order to eradicate corruption, the government decided to replace previously used “otkup” (tax farming) with excise stamps for alcohol and tobacco. The wine otkup, the proceeds from which traditionally formed the lion's share of the budget, was canceled. From now on, excise stamps could be obtained in special excise departments.
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Strict accounting of the state budget put the economy on a new path of development, corruption decreased, the treasury was spent on important items and activities, officials became more responsible for the disposal of money.

Education. In 1765, a new regulation on the structure of educational institutions was issued, which introduced new principles to the education system: the classlessness of educational institutions, free education at its lower levels, continuity of educational programs.

Levels of the education system: in the largest cities - a university, in each provincial city - a gymnasium, in counties - schools, in church parishes - one-class schools. The entire education system was managed by the General Directorate of Schools.
The universities had been open in Moscow
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St. Petersburg
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Kharkov
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Kazan
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Kiev
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Tomsk
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and Saratov
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Peasant reform.
This part was the trickiest one because there were too many contradicting interests involved and no clear answers so the new government had to thread its way cautiously. As the first step, Peter II formalized already existing practice but officially forbidding grants of the state-owned lands with the peasants.
  • The decree of December 12, 1764 granted the right to buy land by merchants, burghers, state and specific peasants outside the cities (landlord peasants will receive this right only in 1768 and only in the name of the landlord).
  • The "Decree on Free Farmers" of February 20, 1765 provided the theoretical possibility of liberating peasants with land for ransom (with the consent of the landlord). This decree proved to be quite inefficient because the action fully depended upon landlord’s good will.
  • There was a stubborn opposition to a decree forbidding selling the serfs without land and the struggle ended by a compromise: only so-called “kholops” (domestic servants who did not work on land) could be sold without a land but not separately from their families.
  • The decree of 1766 abolished the right of landlords to exile their peasants to Siberia for unimportant offenses. If a peasant once received his freedom, he could not be again turned into a serf. A person returning from a captivity or from abroad, as well as a recruited soldier were released from a serfdom. The landlord was ordered to feed the peasants in the hungry years. With the permission of the landlord, peasants could trade, take bills of exchange, and engage in business contracts.
  • Without unnecessary fanfare a long term program of gradual purchase of the “peasants’ land” (with the serfs) from the estate owners had been adopted. It was based upon the already existing reality of the landlords pawning his estates in the state-owned bank and expected to take at least 60 years.
Elsewhere:
  • With all these activities going on, plus (one more) massive military reform, there was simply no time to push the “Polish Issue” to its logical conclusion and situation in the PLC was permitted to keep going down the tubes on its own. For a while.
  • Russian-Japanese trade was developing unexpectedly well, to a noticeable degree thanks to the rigid VOC policies. The main Dutch import item to Japan, Chinese silk, had to be brought from Canton all the way to Batavia on Java, unloaded, stored until there was a time for one of two ships allowed to sail to Nagasaki annually, loaded and sailed to Japan. Russian ships had not annual limitations and could carry silk either directly from Canton to Nagasaki or Shimoda (much closer to Edo than Nagasaki) or to transport the Chinese silk from Kjakhta to Nikolaevsk-on-Amur (or directly from it) and from it to Hakodate. Other than that, the nomenclature was much wider than in the Dutch trade. Russia was selling furs, leather, iron, timber, seaweed, fish and buying porcelain, rice, salt, vegetables and other consumption items which still were expensive on the Russian Pacific coast. Annually, Hakodate was visited by up to 70 Russian ships [3].
  • Land and naval trade with China had been going well and there were even tentative discussions regarding opening one more border trade point at Nikolaevsk-on-Amur or somewhere nearby. In a meantime the trade already was going on unofficially.
  • There was still an issue of the Turkmen piracy on the Caspian Sea, which was noticeably hurting Russian-Persian trade. To deal with this evil a serious (re-)establishing of the Caspian flotilla had been initiated (the old one, established by Peter, went to rot long ago) and the planning of expedition against Geok Tepe (the main remaining refuge of the land-based looters) started. Preparation to this land operation would take a lot of time due to the extremely difficult logistics.
  • Population of the Russian Far East was steadily growing and so was the size of the Siberian Flotilla.
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[1] The list includes the ministries created in OTL by AI and NI plus some structural reforms which had been done by AII (like published budget).
[2] This is a straightforward translation of the Russian term “стол”. Perhaps “desk” or some other term would be better. Anyway, this was a lowest administrative entity routinely headed by a middle-rank official (надворный советник).
[3] Of course, this is a pure fantasy: in 1858 Hakodate was visited by 70 British ships and 7 Russian. 😢
 
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In 1763 Peter II inherited from his father the empire which was in a seemingly good condition politically, economically and militarily which does not mean that there were no known problems: Emperor Alexey dedicated too much time and resources expanding the Russian Empire, absorbing the new territories and expanding the trade to start major domestic reforms even if such plans had been in work.
Grandfather? Because Alexey had some story with his son and ousters happen.
 
So is TTL Poland more unstable/poorer than OTL or just only slightly worse?
Well, so far there is no reason for it to be poorer but it is probably more unstable because so far the Russian troops backing Stanislav are not on its territory and he has no means for fighting the confederacy (or confederacies). Of course, it can be argued that these troops by the very fact of their own presence had been adding to the instability so it is rather hard to say if without this factor and without OTL Catherine’s meddling the domestic situation is better or worse but it does not really matter because the PLC is obviously very weak and its neighbors want to use its weakness to their advantage. Excuse for the Partition always can be found.
 
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