Two types of proxy indicators—father’s type of service to the state and previous exposure to Western learning—can help to assess the role that cultural capital played in the rank at which cadets graduated from the elite Noble Land Cadet Corps in post-Petrine Russia. The results suggest that even in the post-Petrine period, despite its overall institutional weakness, a framework that rewarded “Westernized” culture was still possible. Moreover, this analysis suggests that the post-Petrine state might have been able—as it promised—to sustain a meritocracy, at least within the confines of certain institutional and social oases.

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