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In about 1773, Catherine the Great appointed Magnus Karl von Böhm (or Behm, depending on the roundtrip transliteration) governor of Kamchatka. The peninsula had been pacified and the natives were being mistreated (impressed into labor, charged excessive fur tribute, and so on).

According to Forsyth's A History of the Peoples of Siberia, she gave him "lengthy instructions" to "introduce justice and honesty".

What exactly were the empress's instructions to her new governor? Was her principal motivation moral or political?

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The actual quote from Forsyth's book is:

Captain Magnus Karl von Böhm, attempted to restrain the Russian soldiers and make them treat the Itelmens as human beings, and to introduce justice and honesty into the administration of Kamchatka, according to lengthy instructions issued by Catherine the Great.

  • p142

I think the 'lengthy instructions' referred to in this case were most likely Catherine's 'Instructions to the Commissioners for Composing a New Code of Laws', which had been directed to the Legislative Commission of 1767, rather than specific instructions to von Böhm himself.


The instructions are included in full in Documents of Catherine the Great: The Correspondence with Voltaire and the Instruction of 1767 in the English Text of 1768, by W. F. Reddaway, published by Cambridge University Press.

  • Reasonable. Can we conclude that she didn't appoint him herself? The Irkutsk Namestnichestvo wasn't created until 1788. – Aaron Brick Sep 8 '18 at 1:44
  • I'm not sure that we can conclude that. I do remember that she discussed the qualities required by the governor of Kamchatka in her correspondence with Voltaire, but I don't remember the dates. – sempaiscuba Sep 8 '18 at 10:40

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