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Block I Illinois Library Illinois Open Publishing Network


Vol. 8 (2020)

Феномен самоубийства в России XVIII в.



The history of suicide in Russia, especially prior to the nineteenth century, remains understudied. While in most European countries the process of decriminalization and secularization of suicide was underway, in Russia, with the introduction of the Military Article of 1715, it was formally criminalized. On the basis of the study of more than 350 newly examined archival cases, this article examines how the transfer of suicide investigations to secular authorities also entailed secularization, while the peculiarities of the Russian judicial and investigative system, as well as lacunae in the legislation, actually led to the gradual decriminalization of suicide. At the same time, although among Russians, as well as among other peoples, a number of superstitions were associated with suicide, there is no evidence in the archival documents studied in this article of a particularly emotional perception of suicide. The phenomenon of suicide in eighteenth-century Russia, when compared to early modern Europe, did not have any significant, fundamental differences. However, the features of the Russian judicial-investigative system made this phenomenon less public, less visible and less significant for public consciousness.