Russia’s ruling elite included many non-Russians from the time of Peter the Great onwards—Baltic Germans, Poles, and others, but in earlier times it also used to include other national groups.  From the mid-sixteenth to the late seventeenth century the most significant of them was made of Circassians.  Originally relatives of Ivan the Terrible’s second wife, the Circassian Princes of Kabarda married into the Romanov family and reached the pinnacle of power and wealth.  Though Russian sources do not comment on their origins, their genealogies in the rodoslovnye knigi preserve evidence of their continued awareness of their roots.  The declining importance of Kabarda and of the Russian fort at Terskii Gorodok in present-day Dagestan led to the end of emigration to Moscow and the assimilation of the families as Princes Cherkasskii in the eighteenth century.  Contrary to the author’s assertion, the role of non-Russians in Russia’s elite is not a non-subject in the literature for the whole period of Russian and Soviet history:  It has been particularly well-studied, for instance, in the Volga-Urals region, where research papers and monographs have been multiplying since at least the late 1980s on the integration of local murzas into Russia’s state apparatus, from the khans of Qasimov in the early fifteenth century to the tribal leaders of the ‘Bashkir Cavalry’ in the course of the eighteenth century.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-3.3.C-236