Sokolov A. V. Questions of marriage laws in the Petrograd Soviet of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies (March – June 1917) (.pdf)


The Petrograd Soviet of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, established in February 1917, was a parallel authority to the Provisional Government in Russia during the revolutionary months and exerted a big pressure on the ministers on a wide range of issues. The paper considers the Council's demands concerning the reform of marriage laws. It should be taken into account that at that time only the Church performed a function of civil registration, and divorce was a complex and lengthy procedure of the ecclesiastical court. The archival evidences indicate that many people were turning to the Soviet with a request to simplify the introduction of divorce and to enact secular marriage. Although the majority of the deputies of the Soviet belonged to socialist parties, which had negative attitudes towards the Church, the juridical department of the Petrograd Soviet would refuse to do anything on the issue, suggesting that people should still apply to spiritual consistories. The only case when the Petrograd Soviet ignored the current canon law was the appointment of allowances to civil wives of soldiers. In addition, in the cases of intra-family conflicts the Soviet urged to follow the “proletarian ethics”. It is concluded that in March – June 1917, the Petrograd Soviet did not require the Provisional Government to change marriage laws. The problem was not as urgent as other issues, such as war, land and political crisis. Only in December 1917, the Council of People's Commissars adopted the decrees on divorce and marriage and introduced mandatory secular civil registration.


Key words: Petrograd Soviet of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, Provisional Government, the Holy Synod; spiritual consistory, marriage, divorce.


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