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The Enigmatic Tsar and His Empire

Russia under Alexander I. 1801–1825


Edited By Alexander Kaplunovsky, Jan Kusber and Benjamin Conrad

In many ways Russia under Alexander I was an epoch of exploration and revision of empire and state-building. The authors of this volume explore the Alexandrine-era Russia not from the traditional vantage point of the emperor and his inner circle but from the point of view of experts and elites. These «men on the spot» drafted «maps» of the empire and its collective subjects and constructed social, political, and economic imaginaries of the empire. All these revisions and projects did not necessarily lead to an immediate and consistent (re)organization of the political, social, and cultural structures of imperial space. The Alexandrine Russia may be interpreted much more as a «laboratory» in which different potential scenarios for modernization were designed, discussed, and tested—but also rejected and forgotten.

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The Influence of British Jurists, Political Economists, and Educators on the Ideas of Russia Modernization during the Reign of Alexander I (1801–1825) (Aleksandr Orlov)


Aleksandr Orlov

The Influence of British Jurists, Political Economists, and Educators on the Ideas of Russia Modernization during the Reign of Alexander I (1801–1825)

1. Introduction: Why British Influence?

All significant domestic reforms conducted in Russia from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century, including the revolutions of the latter period, can be mostly attributed to foreign policy factors. Being surrounded by strong and dangerous rivals (or enemies), Russia had to accelerate its modernization. That, naturally, made its government focus its attention on the experience of mature economies. Alongside with the need to modernize was a tendency to widely adopt economic innovations but to exercize extreme caution in political innovations in order to maintain power and to not stir revolution in the country. Russian and British researchers have made reference to this phenomenon,1 which was best reflected in the words of Nicholas I when the imperial couple visited the Moscow Trade and Industrial Exhibition in 1831. The visit report, published in the popular newspaper Severnaia Pchela (Northern Bee; No. 256) said:

More than two hours Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich … spent at the exhibition. Having found out that the children of industrialist [Mikhail] Titov had been to England and France, the emperor said that, in his opinion, education was necessary for doing things perfectly, but one also ought to travel abroad and learn from foreigners for the benefit of the home country, “to learn good, not evil.”2

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