Speranski, Mikhail Mikhailovich (mēkhəyēlˈ mēkhĪˈləvĭch spyĭränˈskē) [key], 1772–1839, Russian public official, chief adviser to Czar Alexander I (1808–12). The son of a village priest, he rose as a civil servant, particularly after the accession of Alexander I. He proved an outstanding administrator, and in 1809 he drew up proposals for a constitution at Alexander's request. His plan called for some popular participation in legislation and for administrative reorganization of the country to provide limited local self-government; Alexander never adopted his proposals. Speranski did succeed in some reforms. He reorganized several ministries, emphasizing promotion on the basis of merit, and introduced a progressive income tax on the nobles. His proposals antagonized both nobles and bureaucrats, and shortly before the Napoleonic invasion of Russia they accused him of secret dealings with the French. Alexander exiled him in Mar., 1812. Speranski later returned to public service as governor of Penza (1816) and governor-general of Siberia (1819). He went back to St. Petersburg in 1821 but never regained his influence with Alexander. Under Nicholas I he was responsible for the codification (1833) of Russian law.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.