Part of Catherine's legislative effort

[CATHERINE THE GREAT] – ARNDT, Christian Gottlieb (translator)

Rußisch-kaiserliche Ordnung der Handels-Schiffahrt auf Flüßen, Seen und Meeren

[Russian Imperial Statute of Merchant Shipping on Rivers, Lakes and Seas]

Publication: St. Petersburg, Weitbrecht und Schnoor, 1781-82.

[CATHERINE THE GREAT] – ARNDT, Christian Gottlieb (translator), Rußisch-kaiserliche Ordnung der Handels-Schiffahrt auf Flüßen, Seen und Meeren

First developped legislative corpus for maritime trade and merchant shipping. First edition in German, Catherine’s native language, printed in Saint Petersburg.

Read More

Out of stock

Our Notes & References

The first systematised maritime trade Statute in Russia, here in its significant first German edition, a language much used for the Baltic trade, in St. Petersburg, and in general in Russia’s learned society under Catherine the Great, herself German.

In the second half of the 18th century, Russia firmly established itself in the Black, Caspian and Baltic Seas and developed successful international maritime trade, which now required unified and consistent regulations of merchant shipping. On 23 November 1781, Catherine II issued her “Ustav kupecheskogo vodokhodstva po rekam, vodam i moriam”, or the Statute of Merchant Shipping on Rivers, Lakes and Seas. Composed of 298 articles, it specified a vast number of directives, little known to the Russian maritime law before: “we have drawn our attention to the lack of laws for merchant shipping. It caused such an inconvenience that we were often forced to receive help from foreign legislations […] Nothing has been known or established in view of the mutual obligations between the shipowners and freighters of the ships and the sailors […] As a result it gave rise to a lot of disorder and disputes hindering trade” (Catherine’s announcement from 25 June 1781, our translation here and below).

Altogether, Catherine’s Statute is much more advanced and varied than the Maritime Statute by Peter I (1724), which consisted of 41 articles and “had a purely fiscal significance” (Shubnikov), determining primarily the operations of Russian ports and customs houses, and the Maritime Duty Statute (1731) by Anna Ioannovna, which augmented Peter’s regulations (to 99 articles) and mainly supervised the entry and departure of foreign ships into Russian ports.

An important document of Russian maritime jurisprudence, Catherine’s Statute is largely based on French maritime regulations; it defines the procedure for building ships and issuing them with a flag, hiring and renting vessels, outlines responsibilities of brokers and ship owners, duties and relations between crew members, protection of ships, liability, assistance in case of shipwrecks and rewards for cargo salvage. It also gives a sample agreement of a shipbuilder with watermen and sets out the main provisions for the insurance of sea vessels and the cargoes carried by them: “for the first time in the history of [Russian] domestic insurance the concept of insurance was defined at the legislative level” (Andreev).

This German translation was prepared by the historian and philologist Christian Gottlieb von Arndt (known in Russia as Bogdan Fedorovich Arndt, 1743-1829), who came to St. Petersburg in 1768 and made his way up to nobility and the Imperial Cabinet from 1781. He founded the German-language newspaper “St. Petersburgisches Journal” (1776-85) and created numerous translations from legal codes and historical documents (such as Peter I’s letters) to Catherine’s comedies and fairytales.

Catherine’s Statute was in active use until 1833, when the Code of Commercial Statutes and Regulations (Svod Uchrezhdenii i Ustavov torgovykg) adopted a special section on merchant shipping (Lantseva).

OCLC locates no holdings in the UK and only two in the US (LoC (possibly 2 copies) and University of Minnesota).


F. A. Kneip (?) (near-contemporary inscription to upper pastedown).


Svod. Kat. XVIII inostr. lit. 2417; Cat. Russica O-48; VD 18 10677437.

Andreev, Roman Aleksandrovich, Zakonodatelstvo ob imushchestvennom strakhovanii v Rossiiskoi Imperii: 1781-1861 gg., Rossiiskaia pravovaia akademiia Ministerstva iustitsii Rossiiskoi Federatsii, 2007.

Kochetkova N. D. “Arndt Bogdan Fedorovich” // Slovar russkikh pisatelei XVIII veka. Vyp 1-3, Institut Russkoi literatury RAN.

Lantseva, Veronika Iurievna. Pravovoe regulirovanie stanovleniia zakonodatelstva torgovogo moreplavaniia Rossii, Iuridicheskii fakultet MGU, 2017.

Shubnikov Iu. B. “O periodizatsii istorii stanovleniia zakonodatelstva torgovogo moreplavaniia Rossii” // Leningradskii iuridicheskii zhurnal. 2018. №1 (51).

Item number



Physical Description

Two parts in one volume 4to (cm). XVI incl. title, 78 pp.; XIII incl. title, (79)-149 pp.


Contemporary half sheep over brown speckled boards, spine with raised bands, gilt fillets and label lettered in gilt, edges red.


Binding rubbed, chipped at extremities, spine label with losses; title with minor small browning or staining, otherwise fresh internally.

Request More Information/Shipping Quote

    do you have a question about this item?

    If you would like more information on this item, or if you have a similar item you would like to know more about, please contact us via the short form here.