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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 Volhynian Revolution”: An Episode from the History of Relations between the Polish Nobility and the Imperial Government in the Age of Alexander I (Constantin Troianowski)


Constantin Troianowski

“The Volhynian Revolution”: An Episode from the History of Relations between the Polish Nobility and the Imperial Government in the Age of Alexander I

In 1883 Kievskaia starina1 published a 122-page-long piece under the title “The Volhynian Revolution of the First Quarter of the Nineteenth Century.” It was presented as a series of three seemingly authentic letters written in 1818 by a certain Opytov, supposedly a Russian official of counsellor rank (statskii sovetnik). The letters were addressed to a certain Countess Starozhilova. While traveling from St. Petersburg to Vienna to Rome, Opytov passed through the Russian province of Volhynia, where at the request of the countess he made inquiries about recent events that had caused the removal of Volhynian governor Mikhail Ivanovich Komburlei (allegedly a relative of Starozhilova). In Volhynia Opytov met an unnamed Russian official who recounted the story of a Polish conspiracy that brought down Komburlei. This narrative is the central element of the letters, which recount in detail the development of the alleged plot organized by Volhynian Polish-speaking landlords under the leadership of the gubernia’s marshal of nobility Bartołomey Giżycki and Senator Józef August Iliński, his brother-in-law. The plotters aimed to remove Russian gubernial and district administrators and replace them with local Polish officials. Slander and unjust complaints to St. Petersburg about abuse of power by local authorities were their weapon of choice. As a result of this grand intrigue, Governor Komburlei lost his office and went...

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