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zieds1mazs.gif (257 bytes)  Rank Table and state service

The Rank Table was introduced in 1722 by Tzar Peter I. It was changed several times during the rest of the 18th century and all of the 19th century.

Some additional information on the ranks and their meaning could be found in the book of Donald Mackenzie Wallace that is available in Internet. The discussion of the Rank Table itself with some dynamics is presented in the Site on Russia military matters of M.Conrad.


The Ranks of civil servants

RANK The rank names of civil servants in Russian The rank names of civil servants in German The rank names in English (attempt to translate)
1. Kancler Kanzler Chancellor
2. deijstviteļnij tajnyj sovetņik Wirklicher Geheimrat actual privy councilor
3. tajnyj sovetņik Geheimrat privy councilor
4. deijstviteļnij statskij sovetņik Wirklicher Staatrat actual state councilor
5. statskij sovetņik Staatrat state councilor
6. koležskij sovetņik Kollegienrat collegiate councilor
7. nadvornij sovetņik Hofrat court councilor
8. koležskij assesor Kollegien Assesor collegiate assessor
9. tituļarnij sovetņik Titularrat titled councilor
10. koležskij sekretarj Kollegien Sekretär collegiate secretary
11. korabeļnij sekretarj   naval secretary
12. gubernskij sekretarj Gouvernement Sekretär provincial secretary
13. provinciaļnij sekretarj; senatskij reģistrator   regional secretary, senate registrar
14. koležskij reģistrator Kollegien Registrator collegiate registrar



The Ranks of militaries

RANK The rank names of civil servants in Russian Army ranks Marine ranks
1. Kancler General-feldmarschal General-admiral
2. deijstviteļnij tajnyj sovetņik Infanterie-General
3. tajnyj sovetņik General-leutenant Vice-admiral
4. deijstviteļnij statskij sovetņik General-major Kontr-admiral
5. statskij sovetņik - -
6. koležskij sovetņik Oberst Kapitän der erster Rang
7. nadvornij sovetņik Oberst-leutenant Kapitän der zweiter Rang
8. koležskij assesor Kapitän, Rittmeister Oberleutenant (ab 1912)
9. tituļarnij sovetņik Stabs-kapitän, Stabs-rittmeister Leutenant
10. koležskij sekretarj Poručik Mate (after 1884)
11. korabeļnij sekretarj -  
12. gubernskij sekretarj Poručik, Sotnik Mate (prior 1884)
13. provinciaļnij sekretarj; senatckij reģistrator Podporučik, Kornet  
14. koležskij reģistrator Praporščik  


Not only the military persons but the civil cervants also wore uniforms. The uniforms of the civil servants were slightly different in different provinces.

It was not easy to become a state servant and to obtain even the first i.e the 14th rank. The Law 1808 allowed practically everybody except serfs to be employed in the state service, but the next Law in 1827 granted this privilege only to the nobility, the children of personal nobility, the children of the merchants of the 1st (not 2nd or 3rd) guild, the children of clergy, the children of civil servants without any rank (at that time any holder of a rank was at least personal nobleman ). The foreigners, the Jews and the children of the tax paying estates were deprived of this right, but if they already served in 1827, they were not kicked out. In reality the shortage of the civil servants took place, and these rules were not observed at all in Caucasus, Siberia, Northern regions or in other remote regions of the Empire. The rules changed during the 19th century in theory as well as in practice.

A civil servant, who began the service, waited for the first (the 14th) rank for 3 years or more depending on his estate. For the next ranks it was obligatory to serve 4-10 years depending on the rank, on the estate and on the education level of the servant. The graduates of a higher education institution could be awarded higher ranks as soon as they joined the service.

It is known that in general a social gap between the civil servants of different ranks was pretty high. Some sources assert that it was higher than the social gap among the corresponding high and low rank officers in the military service. Some understanding of the relationships among the civil servants of different ranks you may gain from Russian fiction works. I think that the short story of A.Tchekhov "Fat and Thin" is very informative in this sense.




The rank that brought nobility to civil and military servants:

At the moment of the introducing of the Rank Table any holder of the 14th rank in the civil service attained the estate of personal nobility i.e. he himself was regarded as a nobleman, but his children were not. When he reached the 8th rank, he became a hereditary nobleman i.e. his descendants also belonged to the nobility. In 1845 the system changed and only the 9th rank brought personal nobility and the 5th rank was needed for hereditary nobility. In 1856 the system changed again. All the changes are summarized in the following table that also includes analogous rules for the military service.


Kind of nobility
Rank needed for nobility
before 1845
after 1856
Personal for civil servants
Hereditary for civil servants
Personal for military servants
Hereditary for military servants


© Bruno Martuzāns. 1995-2002