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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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Construction of Center and Periphery in the Reign of Alexander I. The Case of Bessarabia, 1812–1828 (Victor Taki)


Victor Taki

Construction of Center and Periphery in the Reign of Alexander I. The Case of Bessarabia, 1812–1828

According to the Treaty of Bucharest, which concluded the war between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire of 1806–12, the Ottoman Empire ceded to Russia the lands between the rivers Dniester, Prut, and Danube and the Black Sea. The early history of Russian policies in this territory, which soon came to be known as Bessarabia, offers an interesting entry to the more general problem of administrative and political reform in the Russian Empire during the reign of Alexander I.1 This chapter demonstrates that Alexander I’s policy in the new province was conditioned by his attempts to accommodate the political aspirations of the elites of the Western Borderlands and, at the same time, elaborate an overall administrative-political framework for the entire empire. The tsar’s experiment with Bessarabian autonomy took place in the context of a discussion about the ministerial/functional and the viceregal/territorial types of government, which contributed to the emergence of distinct administrative formats in the center and the borderland regions.←317 | 318→

1. The Bessarabian Experiment of Alexander I

The first measures on the administrative organization of Bessarabia were taken by the last commander of Russia’s “Moldavian” army, Admiral Pavel Chichagov, and his diplomatic chancellery secretary Ioannis Kapodistrias (In Russia also known as Ioann Kapodistira).2 Their goal was to preserve Russian influence over the Balkan peoples, whose situation in the...

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