Northern Illinois University Press

Romantics, Reformers, Reactionaries

Russian Conservative Thought and Politics in the Reign of Alexander I

Alexander M. Martin

In this richly researched and highly original study, Alexander M. Martin explores conservatism in Russian thought, politics, and culture during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Tracing the indigenous and foreign origins of conservative ideology through a wide range of sources, he shows how the Russians reacted to threats posed by the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and how this reaction shaped state policy and national consciousness.

Martin views the development of Russian Conservatism in several significant contexts, the most important of which is the new nationalism that linked the crisis brought on by the Napoleonic wars to the eras of Catherin the Great and Nicholas I. Exploring the growth of nationalistic thinking, he shows its relation to sentimentalism, to a broad religious awakening, and to the growing pride in Russian distinctiveness.

Linking Russia's intellectual and cultural life with national politics, Martin identifies conservative groups and investigates their role in influencing foreign and domestic policy. He shows how public opinion responded to the conservatives' initiatives and explores the relationship between conservative-nationalist ideas and Russian society.

By placing Russian conservatism firmly in the context of contemporary Western thought, Martin presents the striking conclusion that Russian conservatives were part of the political and cultural upheaval against the old regime that took place all across Europe between the revolutions of 1789 and 1848. Russian conservatism was thus uniquely double-edged: far from mainly defending the status quo, Russia's conservatives were also part of the movement for change.

(1997) 304 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-226-8
cloth $38.50

Table of Contents

1. Admiral Shishkov and Romantic Nationalism
2. Government Policy and Public Opinion, 1801-1811
3. The Moscow Conservatives
4. The "Demigoddess of Tver'" and the "Lovers of the Russian Word"
5. The "War for the Fatherland": A People's War?
6. The Mental World of the Holy Alliance
7. The Holy Alliance Experiment
Works Cited

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-226-8
cloth $38.50