Development Of Enlightenment And Science During The Romanov House Reign


This article reflects the review of enlightenment, science and education development during the Romanov dynasty reign. The main reference framework is the little-known and forgotten materials published in 1913 in the 4th volume of the “Imperial Nicholas University News” in Saratov dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Romanov House. The examined information is given in the two reports by well-known Russian scientists: the first rector of Saratov University, Professor of Surgery V.I. Razumovsky and Professor of Forensic Medicine S. P. Vertogradov. The authors (physicians) outlined some challenges of Russian science and education development with the focus on medicine and education. It is characteristic that unlike most of the well-known works on the history of medicine, the authors clearly link all the milestones in the development of enlightenment, medical science and education with the strengthening of Russian statehood during the Romanov House era. We kept the author’s chronology of events, completing some of the little-reported points with recent information. The Imperial University started as part of the only medical faculty in Saratov in 1910. It received the Nicholas University title after the last Emperor NicholasII. It is well known that Nicholas II devoted much thought to the development of medicine, and his family (the Tsarina and daughters) worked as nurses in hospitals during the First World War. In historical terms, this fact also became a landmark – the roots, traditions, schools of Saratov science and education have a fundamental basis formed before the political events of 1917.

Keywords: Anniversary, enlightenment, medicine, Romanovs, science, universities


Russia festively commemorated the 300th anniversary of the reign of the House of Romanov in 1913. This event was also the subject of a public meeting held on February 21 at the Imperial Nicholas University in Saratov. The agenda includes, among other activities, the speech by Professor of forensic medicine S. P. Vertogradov, “A brief historical synopsis of the merits and concerns of the tsars of the House of Romanov for the health and enlightenment of the people”. On the same day rector of Saratov University, professor of surgery V.I. Razumovsky made a report at the joint session of St. Petersburg Society of Russian doctors, Russian Society of Public Health Protection, Russian Surgical Society of Pirogov and St. Petersburg Medical Society “Medical practice in Russia during the reign of the first tsars of the House of Romanov”. This article sets out the results of these fundamental works from Saratov University, their relevance to modern enlightenment, medical science and education, the role of the Romanov House in its development.

Problem Statement

The relevance of our work lies in the study of little-known and forgotten pages of national medicine chronologically linked to social and historical processes in Russia under the Romanov dynasty through the informational perspective of the reports by Russian-renowned Saratov professors – The Imperial Nicholas Medical Staff, first appointed in 1910 in Saratov.We completed some of the little-reported points with information discovered recently.

Such study is exceptionally topical for understanding the origins of modern Russian education, law and medicine in the overall context of demand in the Russian (Saratov) society of historical studies.

Research Questions

We have studied the material set forth in the “Imperial Nicholas University News” the 4th volume (Issue 2), published in 1913 in Saratov. The primary focus was the report of the professor of forensic medicine Vertogradov (1913) “A brief synopsis of the historical merits and concerns of the kings of the Romanov House about the health and enlightenment of the people” and the report of the rector of Saratov University, professor of surgery Razumovsky (1913) “Medical practice in Russia during the reign of the Romanov House first tzars”.

Purpose of the Study

To research and highlight little-studied and forgotten information about the development of enlightenment, medical science and education, described in the reports of the famous Saratov medical professors V.I. Razumovsky and S.P. Vertogradov dedicated to the 300-year anniversary of the reign of the House of Romanov, as well as the importance of the merits of the Romanov House for modernity and the future of Russia.

Research Methods

The following research methods were used: dialectical, historical and legal methods.


With the accession to the throne of the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty Mikhail, the origins of medical practice and its wide circulation throughout Russia began, there was an increasing number of medical staff invited to the country with improved working conditions: salary, gifts, benefits. The post of regimental Medical Officer was newly established. At the same time tzar Mikhail took all the necessary steps to create a new set of laws, which was published as the 1649 Establishment with 25 chapters.

The second tsar – Romanov Alexei Mikhailovich “had a strong faith in medicine: suffered from “obesity” and got relieved from bloodletting done by a German chirurgeon, proposed the same surgery to his nobles” (Razumovsky, 1913, p. 6). He valued the medical practice highly and sent young men abroad for training. Herbal medicine was extensively practiced, licorice root was imported from the Volga region, badian from Siberia, rhubarb from Bulgaria. Restrictive measures for “pestilential diseases” have been actively implemented.

The special development of hospital practice is connected with the name of the third Romanov tsar – the Emperor Peter I. He studied medicine abroad “ordered medical books to be translated into Russian, personally wrote manuals of disease prevention to the troops and did small surgeries: opened abscesses, extracted teeth, performed even more serious surgery – abdominal puncture (paracentesis)” (Razumovsky, 1913, p. 14). Under Peter I 10 general clinics with hospital schools were set up in Russian large cities. In 1722 the tsar ordered to allow women to provide medical treatment and appointed nuns to the hospitals. At the same time pharmacy and health resort practice were actively developing in Russia.

In 1716 a set of laws was issued - Military Statute, where Article 144 stated:(Vetrogradov, 1913, p. 27). In fact, it was the emergence of scientific and practical forensic medicine in Russia.

Out of concern for the people's enlightenment Peter the Great planned to establish in Russia the Academy of Sciences and the Universities, which were later founded by his heirs from the Romanov dynasty. After his death in 1725, the Decree of the Empress Catherine I on the establishment of the Russian Academy of Sciences was issued. The first President was a physician – in-ordinary L. Blumentrost. In 1726 a decree on support of orphans and mentally ill was published, appropriate facilities were established for accommodation and treatment of these targeted groups.

The death penalty was abolished in Russia during the reign of Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. Article 144 on the establishment of the forensic medical service have entered into force. The tsarina's greatest contribution was the establishment of Moscow University in 1755 where famous native doctors studied. This is where the great N.I. Pirogov started his professional career.

Under Catherine II Romanov a lot was done “for the benefit and enlightenment of the people”. The Empress saw the need not only for education, but also for a good upbringing, so Smolny and other institutes “for the education of maidens” were established. Through the efforts of Emperor Paul I Romanov the legendary Academy of Medicine and Surgery was founded in St. Petersburg in December 1798 where thousands of skillful doctors and scientists were brought up. Later N. Pirogov worked here and made his greatest discoveries in medicine.

In 1802 Emperor Alexander I Romanov first established the Ministry of National Education, approved the “preliminary rules of public education”. Educational districts and four types of schools have been established in Russia: universities, gymnasiums, county and parish schools. The universities of Dorpat, Kazan, Kharkov and St. Petersburg were opened.

Emperor Nikolai I Romanov approved 45 volumes of the “Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire” and 15 volumes of the “Code of Laws” (Volume 13 – “Medical Statute”). Kiev Imperial Nicholas University was opened under Nicholas I.

Wars in the Caucasus and the Crimea became a harsh ordeal for Russia. Here for the first time an organized female care for the wounded and sick at war was widely used. Krestovozdvizenskaya (The Exaltation of the Holy Cross) community of Sisters of Mercy was established at the behest and with the funds of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna and chaired by N.I. Pirogov. Through the support of the Romanov House Pirogov was not only able to organize medical care for the wounded and sick but also developed scientific practical system called Military Field Surgery. It involved triage, the rudiments of a phased treatment system, transport of the wounded and special care.

Pirogov (2010) has instituted the doctrine of gunshot wounds that remains in demand in modern military field and forensic medical practice. The introduction of anesthesia and plaster cast allowed to implement the saving approach, using organ-preserving debridement instead of amputation. In the pre-antiseptic era Nikolai Pirogov with brilliant foresight has already started to use antiseptics and isolation.

Pirogov’s (2010) successes in the Caucasus and the Crimea were possible due to the full support of the Romanov House. For example, Nikolai Ivanovich noted with appreciation the role of the tzar’s confidant – Governor General of Novorossiysk Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov who deployed a field dressing station at his headquarters. “I saw in the Caucasus that Vorontsov personally came to the wounded, gave them money and awards…” (Pirogov, 2010, p. 82).

Emperor Alexander II Romanov (The liberator) abolished serfdom in Russia in 1864 and approved new “Judicial Statutes”. Women got access to higher medical education during his reign. It was due to the highest support and participation of the tzar’s confidant the Governor-General Stroganov and on the initiative of the trustee of Odessa school district N. I. Pirogov, that the Richelieu Lyceum in Odessa became a full-fledged university. The University of Novorossiysk was opened on May, 1, 1865 and the Council elected N. I. Pirogov an honorary university member at the first meeting. N. Pirogov came especially on this occasion. In the “Odessa Herald” of September 22,1866 was noted “Yesterday, September 20, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the local scientific and medical estates were giving dinner to the former trustee of the Odessa school district, our renowned authority in medicine – N. I. Pirogov…The dinner was held in the hall of O.A. Alekseev. Society was deeply imbued with respect for the dear guest” (as cited in Barayev, 2010, pp. 25–26).

The training of young scientists abroad came into primary focus for Romanov House. Alexander II traveled a lot in Russia and also visited Saratov. However, “cripples from the underground, men-beasts with bloody fog in their eyes have long been stalking him... And the Tsar-Liberator ended his life as a martyr” (Vertogradov, 1913, p. 47).

Emperor Alexander III Romanov “made it his mission to ensure that the Russian people would be the master nation of their homeland…

He was very religious, contributed to the construction of many temples and considered the benefit of social enlightenment being closely related to religion, putting a lot of hope in the parish clergy cooperation. He loved visiting hospitals.

He was very concerned about the establishment of a basic and secondary technical education and founded Tomsk University among the faculties most needed for the province.

But that is not how he made his own name and fame. It is a glorious tribute that he granted the people 13 years of peace! A peace that the great country deserved!

There were no wars under his reign.

But yet, according to Count S.Y. Witte, during the XIX century, the Russian people waged wars - shed blood for almost 125 years.

And the people, after the peaceful death of Him, praised his great tribute by calling him Peacemaker, and covered his tomb with mountains of wreaths” (Vertogradov, 1913, pp. 47–48).

Emperor Nicholas II Romanov in 1905 approved the “Declaration of the Rights of Russian Citizens”, and the new Code of Laws, ensuring new regime and new life of people, were published soon after. However, the turmoil in the country continued, and Piotr Arkadievich Stolypin succeeded in quelling it with a firm hand. He would be ever remembered with respect in Saratov, the construction of buildings of the future university began during his time.

Nicholas II established the Imperial University in Saratov named after him. “Shall we forget the goodwill of our Sovereign for the establishment of the University, dear to us and to all the lower Volga region, the University, which he himself deigned to bestow upon us to bear his name!” (Vertogradov, 1913, p. 48).

It is noteworthy to mention that the first faculty of Saratov University was medical. The first rector was professor of surgery V.I. Razumovsky. Among the speakers at scientific meetings at the university was a young surgeon from Romanovka hospital Valentin Feliksovich Voyno-Yasenetsky, future professor, prominent national physician and the largest figure of Orthodoxy (Saint Luke). His reports from Romanovsky rural hospital were published in1910 “Protocols and Works of Saratov Physical and Medical Society”, in the Moscow Journal “Surgery” in “Kiev Surgical Society Works” and abroad. Yasenetsky-Voyno (1910) presented a case about bloody sarcoma of a rib. The case is of considerable interest clinically and pathologically. The reporter presented a detailed medical history and microslides.

Nicholas II was a deeply religious man and paid special attention to Russian medicine and the charity movement. His entire family was directly involved during World War I in treating the wounded and sick. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her princesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia established and funded Red Cross hospitals and worked there themselves as sisters of mercy.

It should be noted that during the tzar Nicholas II reign total eradication of alcoholism in Russian community had been vigorously pursued.

“From time immemorial, the vice and disease of the people – disorderly and cruel drunkenness - has been undermining their strength and destroying their labor. Who else but us doctors should see that a glorious nation is dying and degenerating!

We are facing another task of public health and well-being and we need the other kind of courage, other magnitude to succeed with this task!

And if He had succeeded in uprooting that evil then the grateful memory of posterity will preserve the name of the one who accomplished it, for all the eternity!” (Vertogradov, 1913, p. 48).


Thus, in this article we have researched and briefly covered little-studied and forgotten information about the enlightenment, medical science and education progress presented in the reports of the famous Saratov medical professors V.I. Razumovsky and S.P. Vertogradov dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the reign of the Romanov House in 1913. These data are linked to the historical chronology of the royal succession.

This leads to the conclusion that during the 300-year reign of the Romanov dynasty in Russia the foundations of modern law, medical science and education were created: universities, hospitals and clinics, pharmacies, scientific and practical schools, forensic medicine, military field surgery, etc. The whole world knows the names of our Russian physicians and scientists: D.I. Mendeleev, N.I. Pirogov, I.M. Botkin, I.M. Sechenov, I.P. Pavlov, I.I. Mechnikov, V.F. Voyno-Yasenetsky, and others. These trends and traditions, in spite of political and military upheavals, were largely preserved and multiplied in subsequent periods of Russian history.


  • Barayev, T. M. (2010). “In the holy places of seeking the truth” (Pirogov in Odessa: to the 200th anniversary of his birth). Favorit Printing House.

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  • Razumovsky, V. I. (1913). Medical Care in Russia during the Reign of the First Sovereigns of the House of Romanov. Report at a joint meeting of the Russian Physicians Society, Russian Society for Public Health Protection. Russian Surgical Society of Pirogov and St. Petersburg Medical Society, 4(2), 1–25.

  • Vertogradov, S. P. (1913) A brief historical overview of the merits and care of the tsars of the Romanov House for the health and education of the people. Report on 21 February at the Imperial Nikolaev University (on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the reign of the Romanov House). News of the Imperial Nikolaev University, 4(2), 17–50.

  • Yasenetsky-Voyno, V. F. (1910). In his report at the meeting of the Physico-Medical Society in Saratov. Minutes and Proceedings of the Saratov Physical-Medical Society for 1910, 15–18.

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31 January 2022

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Cite this article as:

Barayev, T. M., Kolokolov, G. R., & Ivanov, D. E. (2022). Development Of Enlightenment And Science During The Romanov House Reign. In S. Afanasyev, A. Blinov, & N. Kovaleva (Eds.), State and Law in the Context of Modern Challenges, vol 122. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 69-74). European Publisher.