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Lecture 8

HIST 245 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Holy Roman Empire, Time Point, Nikolay Karamzin

Course Code
HIST 245
Ana Siljak

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Lecture 7: Napoleon in Russia
I. Introduction
-Catherine the Great had a son named Paul
-Catherine had done the same thing to Paul that Elizabeth did to her —> every time one
of his children were born, she would take them away and she would teach/rise them
-As she neared her death, she began to worry about Paul, thinking that he had a lot of
the characteristics of his “Father”, Peter III —> what made people think that Peter III
was his father was that he began to act like Peter III after Catherine’s death, which was
what Catherine feared the most
-Paul was extremely paranoid (like his extensible father), unpredictable, etc. —>
However, he did do some good things (allowed Alexander Radishiev to come back
from exile, allowed the leader of the last Polish rebellion to come back to his estate,
etc.) —> he did have some tendencies towards mercy, but he also had other
obsessions that made him unstable and unpredictable
-Paul was fascinated by Prussian military like his “father” —> reintroduced the
Prussian uniforms back into the military (wasn’t popular reform)
-Panin began to plot a coup against Paul - in order to bring into power the man that
they believed to be the best successor to Catherine’s legacy - this was Alexander I
-In March 1801, Panin’s co-conspirators entered the room of Paul I in the middle of the
night and was held forceable (tried to make him sign his own abdication, but he
refused) - ended up being beaten, strangled to death
-It is rumoured that Alexander I was in the room below all of this happening
-Alexander I was unhappy about how he was practically forced to become Tsar after the
death of his father (Paul) —> he didn’t create his own coup but had other people
decide that he was the one who should take the throne
-Despite the fact that he didn’t have the personality of his grandmother, Catherine,
Alexander was tutored quiet well in the Enlightenment ideas that Catherine had
introduced into Russia
-During the early years of his reign, Alexander I surrounded himself with very
reformed men and many men who were intrigued with the French Revolution
-However, he bypassed all of the official channels and created his own Unofficial
Committee - these were his trusted advisors (people who he believed shared his
own viewpoints and who would help him introduce the reforms he intended to
introduce into Russia) - discussed reforming Russia, planned out what reforms
would go first, they were beginning to think that Russia could be ready for a
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-1801 - the idea that Russia could become a constitutional monarchy was floating
-They also considered to introduce a Charter to the Russian People - it would be
modelled on the charters to the town and the nobility, that Catherine introduced,
and would basically create a basis of universal rights (one of the first rights he
introduced was to allow the peasants to be under the jurisdiction of the local
courts, rather than of their owners)
-Radishiev was pardoned in 1801 and Alexander I appointed him as head of a
commission to reform Russia’s laws - here you can see Alexander I trying to follow in
his grandmothers footsteps
-He also introduced a series reforms to make the lives of ordinary people better —> one
of the reforms was Alexander I forbade the sale of serfs without land
-He created a class called “Free Agriculturalist” - serfs who had been emancipated by
their masters or fled, could apply for this new status - a free peasant who owed nothing
to the Poll Tax of the State or to their owner
-He also allowed non-nobles (free Russians) to own land
-all of his reforms were tentative steps, really demonstrated Alexanders early
mentality towards reforms
-His appointment/elevation of Michael Speranskii - rose to power within the ranks
(was a friend of Radishiev’s) and in 1807, he was one of Alexander trusted advisors
-Speranskii basically said that For Russia, the time had come to create a kind of free
society, one that might not be modelled by the french example, but on the British
Constitutional system, for example.”
-At time point, Russia is facing a threat from the West —> Napoleonic France
II. Napoleonic Warfare
-All of Napoleon’s success within the Eastern Territories made Alexander reconsider
his opinions on reforms and reformism
-This is a story about how a reformer Tsar became a reactionary Tsar, but not just in the
Russian context, but on the international stage as well
-For the first time in history, the West enters (invades) Russia —> Napoleon made
Russia a great European Power—> his original plan to remind Russia that they were
just an eastern, barbarous country backfired on him
-This might seem like fulfillment to both Catherine and Peters request to become a
great Western Empire, but when you become a great European power, you inherit
European problems —> causes Russia to ask themselves what does it mean to be
Russian? What does it mean to be European?, etc.
A. Spreading the French Revolution
-There is no doubt that Napoleon looked back within history for his inspirations - he
saw himself, not as an heir to the French Revolution as much, but an heir to Alexander
the Great or to Julius Caesar, saw himself as an emperor on the old model (conqueror
of Nations, etc.) - an absolutist ruler who could make France better
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