Date of Award


Thesis Date


Degree Type

Honors Thesis-Unrestricted

Degree Name



History and Philosophy

Degree Program

International Studies


Mark Kuss


This thesis compares the use of religion by Russian and English monarchies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as the response of the public in each country. It examines official religion in each state, as well as the kinds of toleration each extended to other religions. In both cases, the outlook of the monarchy changed over the course of the period under study; while both monarchies clearly understood the key role religion played in the lives of their subjects and the power it afforded the state and its sovereigns, the “official” use of religion continued in Russia and ultimately dwindled in England in the eighteenth century. The fate of competing religious tendencies in each society also contrasted during these key centuries.

Drawing on scholarly literature on religion and politics in Russia and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this essay argues that the two cases can be usefully contrasted. One country, Russia, focused on changing religious forms of practice, while the other, England, focused more on changing the substance of the religion itself. The Russian monarchy explicitly sought to use religion as a tool, preserving its position in society and the people’s beliefs. The monarchy in England sought to make substantive changes in religious belief and worship, clearing the way for the rise of other popular religions.


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