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Manifesto on the compulsory military service and the Charter of military service was assigned

13 January 1874

1 (13) January 1874 issued a "Manifesto on the compulsory military service institution” under which the service was assigned to all classes of the Russian society. On the same day was approved the "Charter of military service". "Defense of the throne and the fatherland is the sacred duty of every Russian citizen. Male population, without distinction of fortune, is subject to conscription, "- stated the Charter.

From the reign of Peter I all classes in Russia were involved in military service. The nobles were to serve in the army themselves, while tax estates were to ensure the provision of recruits to the army. When, in the 18th century nobles were gradually released from compulsory service, becoming recruits was the lot of the poorest segments of society, as wealthy people could buy their way out by hiring for a recruit.

The Crimean War of 1853-1856 demonstrated the weakness and backwardness of the military organization in the Russian Empire. In the reign of Emperor Alexander II, military reforms, which had been conditioned by external and internal factors, were carried out thanks to the minister of war D. A. Milutin in several areas: the introduction of new regulations, reduction of the army manpower, training of reserve and officers, rearmament of the army, reorganization of service corps. The main purpose of these reforms was to reduce the army in peacetime and at the same time ensuring of its deployment during the war. However, all these innovations had not been able to eliminate the feudal caste structure of the army, based on a system of recruiting among the peasants and the monopoly of the nobility to engage in officer positions. Hence, the most important measure was the introduction of compulsory military service by Milutin.

Back in 1870 was formed a special commission to develop the issue of military service, which only four years later provided the emperor the Charter of the compulsory military service for all estates, which was approved by the Emperor in January 1874. Rescript of January 11 (23) 1874 by Alexander II addressed to Milutin instructed the minister to carry the law into effect "in the same spirit in which it is made."

According to the Charter of military service of 1874, the general term of military service in the land forces was 15 years, in the Navy - 10 years, of which active service amounted to 6 years on land and 7 years in the Navy, service in reserve - 9 years on land and 3 years - in the Navy. Infantry and artillery were raised on a territorial basis. From now recruiting was canceled, and military service was obligatory for the entire male population aged over 21 years. Individuals, who have been exempted from military service for various benefits, were enlisted in the militia in case of a declaration of war. Being transferred to the reserve, soldiers were only occasionally called up for training sessions, which did not interfere with their private pursuits or peasant labor.

The Charter also provided benefits for education, delay by marital status. Thus, the release of the service was granted to the only sons of the parents, the sole breadwinner in a family having young brothers and sisters, representatives of certain nationalities. From military service were completely exempted clergy, doctors and teachers.

In order for the military service to be observed, in each province were established provincial offices for military service, which were in charge of the Office of military service under the General Staff of the Ministry of War of the Russian Empire. The Charter of military service as amended had been in effect until January 1918.

Lit.: Головин H. H. Русские законы о всеобщей воинской службе // Военные усилия России в Мировой войне. Париж, 1939; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Горяинов С. М. Уставы о воинской повинности. СПб., 1913; Ливин Я., Ранский Г.  Устав о воинской повинности. Со всеми изменениями и дополнениями. СПб., 1913; Устав о воинской повинности от 1 января 1874 года [Электронный ресурс] // Международная военно-историческая ассоциация. Бд. URL:

From the Presidential library materials:

Анучин Д. Н. О географическом распределении роста мужского населения России (по данным о всеобщей воинской повинности в Империи за 1874-1883 гг.): сравнительно с распределением роста в других странах. СПб., 1889;

Бильдерлинг А. А. К 25-летию всеобщей воинской повинности. СПб., 1899;

Всеобщая воинская повинность. Симбирск, 1874;

Киреев А. Ф. Устав о всеобщей воинской повинности с разъяснениями о правах и льготах по образованию и семейному положению. М., 1879;

Крицкий П. Н. Всеобщая воинская повинность в Великом княжестве Финляндском за десятилетие с 1882 по 1891 год. СПб., 1899; Полное собрание законов Российской Империи. Собрание 2-е. СПб., 1874. Т. 49. Отделение 1-е (1876). №№ 52982, 52983.