Week VIII: 19 Oct. Alexander I
Assignment: R&S, pp. 279-300; Dmyt. pp. 153-165, 175-199, 201-233
Midterm II Due.
R&S, pp. 279-300 (Ch. 25):
What do the authors tell us about historians' views of Emperor Alexander I? Is there a historical consensus about his personality and the legacy of his reign? Explain.
What do the authors consider most important to understand about Alexander's youth and his character?
How had educated Russian's reacted to Alexander's accession to the throne and why?
What sorts of reform ideas did Alexander's advisors suggest in the first years of his reign and what became of these plans? In particular, what do the authors tell us about the work of Alexander's "Unofficial Committee"?
Who was Mikhail Speranskii?
What practical reforms actually were implemented in under Alexander I in 1800-1812 and how do these relate to the reform ideas considered (but not adopted) in 1807-1812? Focus in particular on this--how did the reorganization of government administration in 1802 and 1810 and Speranskii's draft proposal for a constitution relate to earlier conceptions of reform under Peter I and Catherine II? What sort of conception of society underlay these reform ideas, what sort of constitutional state did they envision, and to what extent did they infer limitations on autocracy?
Did other constitution reform proposals offered to Alexander I propose limiting the Tsar's autocratic powers? Explain.
Briefly outline the changes in Russia's policy regarding Napoleonic France between 1800 and 1812 (before the war of 1812!). And how, during this period, had Russia expanded its own borders?
What sorts of tensions finally led to war between France and Russia in 1812?
How do the authors explain Russia's eventual victory (and Napoleon's defeat!) in that war?
What characterized Russia's foreign policy towards Europe after 1812? To answer this, consider these sub-questions" a) What had been Alexander I's expectations of the peace, and were they met? b) What were the Holy Alliance, the Quadruple Alliance, the Quintuple Alliance, and the "Congress System"? c) How and under what circumstances did Russia intervene in European affairs in 1815-1825?
Who was Alexis Arakcheev, with what policies is he associated, and why do the authors argue that his influence is symptomatic of the second half of Alexander I's reign?
Who was Alexander Golitsyn, with what policies is he associated, and why do the authors argue that his influence is symptomatic of the second half of Alexander I's reign?
Who were the Decembrists, what did they want, what kinds of organizations had they formed, and how did they attempt to take power?
What happened to the Decembrist Rebellion?
Dmyt. pp. 153-165, 175-199, 201-233:
***Czartoryski's account of the Events Surrounding the Assassination of Paul, 1801(pp. 153-165)
What does Czartoryski's account tell us of Alexander I's knowledge of the plot against his father Emperor Paul and his reaction to Paul's murder?
How does Czartoryski explain the reasons that Paul was unpopular and how does he describe the conspirators against Paul?
Did the coup go smoothly? How is it that Paul ended up murdered?
What became of those tied directly to Paul's murder?
According to Czartoryski, what impact did the assassination have on the fist years of Alexander I's reign? Explain.
***The Franco-Russian Arrangements at Tilist, 1807 (pp. 175-183)
The "public" portions of this treaty are long and complex. Who do you think gained most from this agreement and why? (Put another way, what advantages did it give to France, what advantages did it give to Russia, and which side seemed to gain more advantages?)
Who seems to have gained the most from the Secret Articles of 7 July 1807, and why might these have been kept secret?
What was the driving rationale behind the secret alliance of July 1807?
Given what you've read, was this likely to be a stable and long-lasting agreement? Explain.
***Speranskii's Proposed Brief Outline of State Organization, 1809.
How would Speranskii's proposed constitution divide up government functions?
What would be the functions of the State Council, who would its members be chosen, and who would serve on it?
What would be the functions of the State Duma, how would its members be chosen, and who would serve on it?
What would be the functions of the Senate, how would its members be chosen, and who would serve on it?
What main functional divisions would this plan create among the state ministries, and how would the spheres of activity for each ministry be determined?
How would township (volost) duma members be chosen, who would be eligible to serve, and what would be their function? What about the county (okrug) dumas? The provincial (guberniia) dumas? And how would all this be linked to the central government administration?
Would the dumas elect the local government executive offices? Explain. What would be the functions of these executives?
OK--In the questions on R&S, I suggested that we could understand constitutional reform measures under Alexander I and being similar in principle to reforms under Peter I and Catherine II. What evidence in this document supports the contention that Alexander (and Speranskii) understood the constitution as creating a more efficient, "well ordered state" [what M. Raeff calls the "well-ordered police state" without in any way reducing the Tsar's autocratic power?
***The War of 1812, Alexander's Proclamation to the Nation, 18 July 1812 (pp. 191-192)
Explain the major elements of Alexander's proclamation. How does he define the enemy and how does he define Russia's struggle? What historical analogies does he draw? To what social groups does he appeal and how?
***Kutuzov's Report to Alexander, 16 September 1812 (pp. 192-193)
How did Kutuzov explain his decision not to defend Moscow? Did he think this meant the end of the war? Explain.
***Alexander's Victory Proclamation, 13 January 1813 (p. 194)
In addressing his soldiers, how did Alexander explain Russia's victory over Napoleon?
***Russian Losses in the War of 1812 (pp. 194-195)
These are only partial estimates. What do they tell you about the human and economic costs of this war? (Keep in mind that these figures represent only six months of was, and that Russia's population at the time was around 40 million.... While your thinking about these figures, remember what the death toll was in the four years of the US Civil War....)
***Polish Freedoms under the Constitution of 1815 (pp. 195-199)
What about this constitutional arrangement would have angered Polish nationalists?
In what ways did this document promise to Poles rights far beyond those enjoyed by Russians?
***Constantine's Renunciation of His Right to the Throne, 1822 (pp. 201-202)
What arguments did Alexander's brother Constantine make to justify renouncing his right to the throne?
***Alexander's Manifesto on Succession, 1823 (pp. 203-204)
Based upon this manifesto, was there any ambiguity about who was to succeed Alexander I as Emperor? Explain.
What aspect of Alexander's manifesto might have contributed to public confusion about who would become Tsar?
***Nicholas I's Manifesto upon Ascending the Throne, 24 December 1825 (pp. 204-206)
What actions on Nicholas's part in December 1825 would have contributed to confusion regarding the succession?
When and how did Nicholas correct the "mistake" that had been made concerning the succession? Explain.
***The Decembrist Movement: Statute of the Union of Welfare
Did the Union of Welfare initially define itself as a revolutionary movement, determined to overthrow the government? Explain.
How did the Union define its goals?
Was the Union open to all Russians? Explain. Who was excluded?
Many of the Union's members were Masons, and the movement was in many regards patterned after Masonic and other fraternal lodges (all of which had to be secret in Russia). What aspects of this Statute suggest this?
Given that the Union repeatedly pledges its loyalty to the Russian government, why would the government consider it a dangerous organization?
***Rule of Conduct for the United Slavs (pp. 213-214)
In what ways are these "rules" more radical than the guidelines for members of the Union of Welfare? Why would the government consider the Unite Slavs dangerous?
***Muraviev's Project for a Constitution (pp. 214-222)
What automatically strikes you about the position that this document takes regarding serfdom?
What position does the document take regarding Autocracy?
What position does it take on the privileges of the nobility?
If you are familiar with the 1789 Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen (and you should be!), then what about this document is reminiscent of that landmark in the French Revolution?
The Decembrists were heavily influenced in their thinking not only by the French Revolution, but also by the American Revolution and the Federal structure laid out in the US Constitution. What in this document suggests the influence of the US Constitution and of American federalism? [note--if you haven't read the US Constitution, then stop right now and go and read it!!!! Then come back and continue these questions...]
Does this constitution eliminate monarchy? Explain. Again, what about Autocracy?
***Excerpts from Pestel's Testimony (at his trial, after the Decembrist rebellion) (pp. 222-226)
Some historians (still) assume that the Decembrists picked up politically liberal ideas while serving in the army in France in 1814-1815, after the defeat of Napoleon. Historian W. Bruce Lincoln, however, argued that the evidence simply does not support that assumption. Where did Pestel encounter liberalism and what influenced his political thought?
What turned Pestel into a republican (rather than a monarchist)?
How does Pestel try to reduce his own culpability for the Decembrist Rebellion? Who does he "blame"?
***A Manifesto of Prince Trubetskoi, 1825 (pp. 226-228)
What about this manifesto was revolutionary (in the context of Russia in December 1825)? Explain!
***Pushkin's "To Siberia" 1827 (pp. 228-229)
Pushkin was and is Russia's greatest poet. What position does he take her not only towards the Decembrists, but toward their "mission"?
***Odoevskii's Response to Pushkin, 1827 (p. 229)
Odeoevskii was one of the Decembrists sentenced to Siberian exile. What does he think will become of the Decembrists' cause?
***Regulations Governing Natives of Siberia, 1822 (pp. 230-233)
As long as we've mentioned Siberia... As we know, the Russian conquest of Siberia dated back to the Muscovite period. But it was only under Alexander I that the government began working out a coherent system for administering this "internal colony." This document was drafted (surprise!) by Mikhail Speranskii. What about this document reflects Alexander I's/Speranskii's concern with establishing a system of orderly administration?