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Lecture 8

HIST245 Lecture 8: Lecture 8 outline


Department
History
Course Code
HIST 245
Professor
Ana Siljak
Lecture
8

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HISTORY 245
IMPERIAL RUSSIA
Midterm – 2 part.
1)identification
Taken from outline – term or name from outline as well. If not on outline.
Identify the basic facts of term or name, significance to course. 5/10 identifications.
2) essay
Big broa question related to one themes already discussed in course.
Well structured and coherent argument, essay question needs opinion and need to
answer question in form of argument. Evidence – must include evidence from 2
readings from course. ½ essay questions.
Lecture 8: Decembrism
A) Introduction
a. Winning battle against Napoleon but brining French revolution ideas
home.
b. Seen as first Russian revolutionary movement, ends in 1917 and Lenin
looks back and sees roots of cause.
c. Alexander the First – his behavior that allows Decemberism to flourish in
the way it does. After Vienna, his approach to governance is eccentric. Yet,
never lost reformist impulses that would occasionally show themselves –
show interest in reforming Russia along western lines, especially
constitutional ones.
d. But reforms he proposed haphazard, strange, almost not fully thought
through but impulse of moment. From 1815 until Alexander’s death in
1825, Alexander gave hope to reformers and comfort to reactionaries.
Worst possible way to rule, creates creation for rebellion.
i. How:1815 – reformers in Alexander’s government pleased with
Alexander’s treatment of territories that he reoccupied in Poland
after victory. Alexander took duchy of Warsaw that Napoleon
created and renamed it the Kingdom of Poland and gives Kingdom
of Poland a constitution, Alexander in that moment became an
autocratic tsar of Russia and limited constitution monarch in
Poland, most liberal – have a parliament, elected and meet every 2
years and individuals in Poland granted rights – freedom of press,
speech, and religion. Reactionaries up in arms, wanted to be
homogenous. Speech: ‘Poland was to be experiment in
democracies and constitutionalism, if things went way, implication
was that experiment could continue further into Russia” Karamzin
shocked and upset at direction, in case of Serfdom – Alexander
gave some freedom to peasants in newly acquired border
territories. Refused to extent Serfdom into Finland, refused to
reinstitute serfdom into Polish territories (abolished by Napoleon),
and Northern Baltic emancipated Serfs. 1818- rumors abolish
serfdom all together.

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e. Giving reaction bad name – military colonies (strangest, crazy nature of
last years).
i. Alexander had problem, at end of Napoleonic war, number troops
demobilized, some task to function in society. 1m in 1818, and
needed to figure out how to continue housing and feeding them.
Could take up agriculture and become farmers. Demobilize them in
territories where agriculture needed hands. Solved problems – feed
themselves, don’t become bored and restless, new methods of
agriculture could be experimented, and could resettle military
colonists along Russia’s borders, south and west and could become
defenders of borders plus farmers. By 1825 – 1/3rd of army was in
such colonies.
1. In practice – military colonies disaster, professional
soldiers, especially had no previous experience in
agriculture, had no experience in learning how to do it,
soldiers because intermixed with free peasants, who
supposed to teach them farming techniques, peasants didn’t
have time or interest in teaching to people who had no idea
what doing. Worst: for some reason, Alexander decided that
the functioning of military colonies was to be overseen by
notorious figures in Russian history – Aleksei Arakcheev,
name became synonymous with reaction. – Military man,
had experimented with military farming on own estate, why
tapped him to run colonies, Alexander visited one of his
personal military colonies set up on own estate, impressed
by order, neatness and cleanliness and military precision.
People wore uniforms, had to obey strict times for rising,
working, eating, and sleeping. Colonies became so
unpopular, Arakcheevism became synonymous with
tyranny. Eventually had to be abolished in 1821. First
Russian revolution nurtured under this conditions, promises
held out haphazardly, constitutional reform, and ridiculous
tyrannical style of order. More progressive members of
Russian elite, alternately had hope and despair as watched
Alexander meander from revolution to reaction, decided to
take matters into own hands? Not just about domestic.
II. Seeds of Revolution
A. From France to Russia
a. Young officers who became part of Decemberism movement, not first
Russians to go to Europe and read foreign books, not first to be educated
abroad. Troubled with what they found in Europe and what they found in
Russia at home. Why: Europe they encountered was post-French
revolutionary, changed by enlightened reforms as armies marched way
East. Countries given independence, constitutions proclaimed, rights

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distributed, old aristocracy (Daschova travels through Europe, meets
aristocrats, sticking to member of own class) only point on contact for
Russian elite was now replaced with new class, bourgeoisie, new group of
people in France calling themselves citizens and identified primarily as
that. Not Europe of Catherine or Peter.
b. Second: as officers marched across Russia chasing armies out, told they
were stamping out Napoleonic barbarism. Propaganda. But when got to
France, didn’t find barbaric. Instead, intrigued by civilized society, post-
revolution, where some trapping of democracy and republicanism were
discussed, preserved, institutionalized. When returned home, it was Russia
that looked barbaric. One of the Decemberism who said quote
i. “During the campaigns through Germany and France our young
men became acquainted with European civilization, which
produced the strongest impression on them. They were able to
compare all that they had seen abroad with what confronted
them at every step at home: slavery of the majority of the
Russians, cruel treatment of subordinates by superiors, all sorts
of government abuses, and general tyranny.”
1. Becomes great empire because marched through France but
when come home intrigued by revolutionary sentiment and
bring it home to Russia.
B. Secret Societies
a. Talk about where ideas came from, how these idea becomes nurtured.
Most interesting aspects – not just come home and have ideas and decide
to band together but encouraged in this in secret societies. Late 18th, early
19th century phenomenon, in Europe and Russia and many of them,
product of enlightenment. Societies dedicated to various values – personal
virtue and social good. Usually came with elaborate rituals of initiation,
some religious but almost all opposed to traditional religion and made up
ceremonies and rights.
b. Enlightenment notions of teaching, progress, education, social welfare and
idea was that when joined society, left trappings of class behind. Could be
a noblemen, trades person but leave all that behind and become a
brotherhood directed forwards and engaged in activities and actions for
common good. Spread in Catherine’s reign. Tolerated at first (when
enamored at first) but persecuted when in reactionary phase, seeing them
as French infection but Alexander in first years revived masonry.
Speranskii masonry, and persistent rumors that Alexander himself
belonged to masonic secret lodge. Thing about them: don’t start out
revolutionary but end up revolutionary, origins of terrorist cell begins here,
roots in masonic secret society systems, elaborate initiation and people
dedicated to cause. Early years – from masonic lodge, as means of
gathering together like-minded people for purpose of more active
transformation of society. Became more violent. 433.
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