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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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Russian Governors during the Reign of Alexander I: Mechanisms of Appointment and Dismissal in the Context of Administrative Reform (Alsu Biktasheva)


Alsu Biktasheva

Russian Governors during the Reign of Alexander I: Mechanisms of Appointment and Dismissal in the Context of Administrative Reform

Russian governors were appointed and dismissed by the emperor, and this act held a special significance. In practice, high-ranking state officials served as intermediaries at the appointments of governors. In the eighteenth century, the right to present candidates for the position of governor belonged to the Senate, but in 1802, when governors were made accountable to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, appointments also came to be managed by this department. From that time, the minister of internal affairs presented selected candidates for gubernatorial vacancies to the emperor. We will analyze the ministry’s mechanism of appointments in full detail through a careful reading of surviving documents: records of the Ministry of Internal Affairs,1 official correspondence, governors’ files, and private documents. A complete study of documents collected under the rubric “On the Appointment and Dismissal of Governors” at the Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv (RGIA)2 made it possible to find form listings of candidates for gubernatorial positions. The form included information about a candidate’s administrative career, recommendations from a number of persons, and petitions from influential state officials and relatives. All this information helped establish formal parameters of gubernatorial appointments, allowing us to inspect the criteria used.

Russian law provided only vague guidelines for the selection of candidates; a legal mechanism for this process was not fully developed. For example, the imperial decree of...

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