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Card-playing and gambling in eighteenth-century Russia

Keenan, Paul (2012) Card-playing and gambling in eighteenth-century Russia. European History Quarterly, 42 (3). pp. 385-402. ISSN 0265-6914

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0265691412448045


Although gambling was a prominent, not to say infamous, feature of nineteenth-century literary depictions of elite social life, the study of how the social and cultural relevance of certain games developed in the earlier period has been relatively neglected. This article examines the emergence of card-playing as a form of entertainment at the court and amongst the urban elite during the watershed period of the early to mid-eighteenth century as part of a broader engagement with European forms and fashions, catalysed by the reign of Peter I (1689–1725). The emphasis was essentially on the sociable nature of cards, but it was an activity fraught with potential risks for more ‘committed’ players. The Russian state’s role in restricting the potential excesses of any gambling, particularly (but not exclusively) amongst non-elite social groups, reflects the wider European concern about the financial and moral dangers of challenging Fate.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 The Author
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2012 15:37
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:28

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