Economic Research Institute Study paper
Utah State University
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Of all impressions reported by foreign visitors to Russia from the mid-sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, perhaps the most dominant, recurring theme is the apparent absolute power of the Tsar over the affairs of the Empire and over the lives of his subjects. In a manner nearly obligatory, a succession of travelers commented on the omnipotence of the autocracy and on the arbitrary use of governmental power. Thus, as early as 1549 Emperors Maximilian I's and Charles V's ambassador to Moscow (1517 and 1526) Baron Sigismund von Herberstein remarked "lt is a matter of doubt whether the brutality of the people has made the prince a tyrant, or whether the people themselves have become thus brutal and cruel through the tyranny of their prince." Adam Olearius, who visited Russia four times between 1634 and 1643 as an emissary from the Duke of Holstein, had similar feelings about the Russian government.
Israelsen, L. Dwight, "The Determinants of Russian Government Revenues, 1800-1914" (1983). Economic Research Institute Study Papers. Paper 398.