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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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Republican Types in Russian Political Culture, 1815–1825 (Vadim Parsamov)


Vadim Parsamov

Republican Types in Russian Political Culture, 1815–1825

Republican types are understood here as a project of state order that implied seizing political power from a monarch and giving it to the people by means of a coup—either a peaceful or a military one. It is this circumstance that puts republican models aside from projects of state-initiated reforms intended to liberalize but not replace the monarchical regime. A monarch who granted a constitution to his subjects enhanced their rights and liberties, but he did not change their status, since a granted constitution did not imply discussions and approbation by the people. For example, if a benevolent lord replaced socage with rent payments, he enhanced liberties of his serfs, but they did not become free people because of it. On the other hand, republics could have strict laws that limited rights and liberties of individual citizens, but it was thought that the laws resulted from the will of the people, thus the people as a whole remained free. In the first case, liberty was understood as an act, and in the second—as a status.

Unlike constitutional monarchies, which set spatial limits to hereditary power (the private life of the people was supposedly not regulated), republics had temporal limits for elected power, while citizens’ private lives could also be subjected to its control. Titus Livy spoke of a change from a monarchy to a republican regime and explained that “you may reckon...

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