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Birth of Nikolai S. Tagantsev, Russian lawyer

3 March 1843

February 19 (March 3), 1843 in Penza, was born Nikolai Stepanovich Tagantsev, the largest national criminologist, senator, privy councilor and a member of the State Council of the Russian Empire, an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1917).

Tagantsev graduated from the Penza gymnasium with a silver medal and entered the law faculty of the St. Petersburg University. Upon completion his education in 1862, he was retained by the department of criminal law to prepare for a professorship. The following year, by order of the Ministry of Education, Tagantsev was sent to Germany to continue studies and training in science. Under the leadership of the German professor K. I. A. Mittermeier, he began work on a master's thesis "On the repetition of crimes," which explored the issues of recidivism, studying new facets of the social aspects of crime and offender’s individuality.

On his return from abroad Tagantsev successfully defended his thesis and was elected an extraordinary professor at the Imperial Law School in 1867, and at the Alexander Lyceum in 1868, as well as an assistant professor of St. Petersburg University. In 1870 Tagantsev defended his doctoral dissertation, "On crimes against life according to the Russian criminal law," and received a doctorate in criminal law. The following year, the scientist became a professor of St. Petersburg University. Soon, he was appointed editor of "Journal of Civil and Criminal Law" (1873-1878).

In 1870's Nikolai Stepanovich was a member of the commission of prison reformation. For the Russian judicial practice of great importance were the editions, repeatedly reprinted by Tagantsev, of the informal texts of the Penal Code (18 editions) and the Charter of the penalties imposed by magistrates (22 editions), accompanied by multiple appendixes including collected, summarized and systematized appeal practice.

In 1874-1880 were published three volumes of "The course of Russian criminal law" by Tagantsev covering the teaching of the crime. His course was distinguished by fundamental nature, the breadth of literary sources, the ability to present rich information from the foreign laws and literature, and deep insight into the meaning and practical application of the theory of criminal law. The work by Tagantsev "Russian criminal law. Lectures. General part" was the final effort of many years of research and teaching activities of the scientist, and was published in 1902. This work has not lost its significance even today, still being a major source of criminal law doctrine.

As an opponent of "science for science ', Tagantsev was actively involved in lawmaking. In 1881 he was appointed a member of the consultation under the Ministry of Justice and member of the committee to draft a new criminal code. In 1890 he became chairman of the commission for drafting the preliminary proposals for the revision of the Finnish penal legislation, in 1894 - a member of the committee on the revision of judicial legislation, and at the same time, the chairman of the department for the revision of the statutes of criminal proceedings.

Tagantsev had done a huge research work while drafting the new Criminal Code, to which the scientist devoted 20 years of his life. He drew up 4 of the 8 volumes of explanatory notes to the Code, while the final draft and the explanatory note to the General Part of the Code were elaborated by the researcher alone.

An active contribution in the drafting of important bills of the Russian Empire forced Tagantsev to limit his teaching career: in 1882 he reserved only the chair in the Imperial Law School, having left the University of St. Petersburg and the Alexander Lyceum. From 1887 the scientist had been a senator of the Department of Cassation of the Senate, and from 1897 – the head of the department. In January 1903 Tagantsev was granted the rank of privy councilor, and in May the same year was appointed a member of the Commission to develop a new Criminal Code under the Ministry of Justice. In 1906 he became a member of the State Council.

After the October Revolution, in December 1917 Tagantsev was elected an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Nikolai Stepanovich Tagantsev died March 22, 1923 in St. Petersburg, and was buried at the Mitrofanjevskoe Cemetery. Later, the cemetery was demolished, and the grave of the scientist has not been preserved.

Lit.: Смертная казнь: Сб. ст. Н. С. Таганцева. СПб., 1913; Сомов Е. Таганцевы // Нева. 2005. № 6; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Таганцев Н. С. Великое княжество Финляндия. СПб., 1910; Он же. Высочайший манифест 1/13 декабря 1890 г. и Финляндское уголовное уложение. СПб., 1910; Он же. Карательная деятельность государства и ее границы. [СПб., 1882]; Он же. О повторении преступления, СПб., 1867; Он же. О преступлениях против жизни по русскому праву. Т. 1—2. СПб., 1870-71; Он же. Пережитое. Учреждение Государственной Думы в 1905-1906 гг. Пг., 1919


From the Presidential library materials:

Таганцев Николай Степанович // Энциклопедический словарь/ под ред. проф. И. Е. Андреевского. Т. 32. СПб., 1901;

Таганцев Н. С. Первое продолжение к Уложению о наказаниях и Мировому уставу с разъяснениями по решениям Уголовного кассационного Департамента и Главного военного суда. СПб., 1875;

Таганцев Н. С. Уголовное право : 1 класс Императорского Александровского лицея. 1876-1877 г. [СПб., 1877];

Таганцев Н. С. Уложение о наказаниях уголовных и исправительных 1885 года. СПб., 1901;

Таганцев Н. С. Уложение о наказаниях уголовных и исправительных 1885 года. 5-е изд., доп. СПб., 1886;

Таганцев Н. С. Уложение о наказаниях уголовных и исправительных 1885 года. Изд. 13-е, пересм. и доп. СПб., 1908;

Таганцев Н. С. Уложение о наказаниях уголовных и исправительных 1866 года : с дополнениями по 1 янв. 1876 г. Изд. 2-е, перераб. и доп. СПб., 1876;

Устав о наказаниях, налагаемых мировыми судьями : С внесением всех узаконений по продолжениям 1868, 1869, 1871 и 1872 г. и разъяснениями по решениям Уголовного кассационного департамента с 1866 по первое полугодие 1871 г. включительно. СПб., 1873;

Устав о наказаниях, налагаемых мировыми судьями: с дополнениями по 1 января 1879 г.: с прил. мотивов и извлечений из решений Уголовного кассационного департамента Сената. СПб., 1879;

Фойницкий И. Я. [соч.] Н. С. Таганцева. Курс русского уголовного права. Часть общая. Кн. I. Вып. III. СПб., 1880 : [рец. СПб., 1880].