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Encyclopedia > Decembrist Revolt
Decembrists at the Senate Square
Decembrists at the Senate Square

The Decembrist revolt or the Decembrist uprising (Russian: Восстание декабристов) was attempted in Imperial Russia by army officers who led about 3,000 Russian soldiers on December 14 (December 26 New Style), 1825. Because these events occurred in December, the rebels were called the Decembrists (Dekabristy, Russian: Декабристы). This uprising took place in the Senate Square in St. Petersburg. In 1925, to mark the centenary of the event, it was renamed as Decembrist Square (Ploshchad' Dekabristov, Russian: Площадь Декабристов). Image File history File links Karl Kolman (1786-1846). ... Image File history File links Karl Kolman (1786-1846). ... Imperial Russia is the term used to cover the period of history from the expansion of Russia under Peter the Great, through the expansion of the Russian Empire from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean, to the deposal of Nicholas II of Russia, the last tsar, at the start... December 26 is the 360th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, 361st in leap years. ... The Gregorian calendar is the calendar that is used nearly everywhere in the world. ... Opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway 1825 (MDCCCXXV) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... The Bronze Horseman Saint Isaacs Cathedral Decembrists Square russian: Площадь Декабристов is a city square in Saint Petersburgs Central Business District. ... Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербу́рг, English transliteration: Sankt-Peterburg), colloquially known as Питер (transliterated Piter), formerly known as Leningrad (Ленингра́д, 1924–1991) and...


The revolt was personally suppressed by Nicholas I of Russia. Nicholas I (Russian: Николай I Павлович, Nikolai I Pavlovich), July 6 (June 25, Old Style), 1796–March 2 (February 18, Old Style), 1855), was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855. ...

Contents

Decembrist societies

Historians have generally agreed that a revolutionary movement was born during the reign of Alexander I.[1] However, the movement certainly echoes the earlier seductive allures of the Polish Golden Liberties to the Russian noble boyars. Aleksandr I Pavlovich (Russian: Александр I Павлович) (December 23, 1777–December 1, 1825), was Emperor of Russia from March 23, 1801–December 1, 1825 and King of Poland from 1815–1825, as well as the first Grand Duke of Finland. ... Golden Liberty (latin: Aurea Libertas, Polish: Złota Wolność, sometimes used in plural form; this phenomena can be also reffered to as Golden Freedoms, Nobles Democracy or Nobles Commonwealth, Polish: Rzeczpospolita Szlachecka) refers to a unique democratic political system in the Kingdom of Poland and later, after...


From the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the Russian nobility were increasingly exposed to European intellectual trends such as liberalism. During the period of rapprochement between Napoleon and Alexander, liberalism was encouraged on an official level, creating high expectations that would later be crushed. Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. ...


The main instrument for reform in Alexander’s regime was Mikhail Speransky. During his early years in the regime, Speransky participated in the organization of the Ministry of the Interior, the reform of ecclesiastic education, and the formulation of the government’s role in the country’s economic development. Speransky’s role increased greatly in 1808. From then until 1812, Speransky developed plans for the reorganization of Russia’s government. These plans held for a time the promise of a new constitutional regime[1]. Speransky’s most noted essay pushed for a code of laws. Such a code of laws would have created a uniform legal system, and replaced the arbitrary decisions of government officials with objective procedures. This is the first step in the creation of a liberal government. However, court intrigue slowly unraveled Speransky’s influence with Alexander, and he was removed from the court. Count Mikhail Mikhailovich Speransky (1772-1839) was probably the greatest of Russian reformers in the period between Peter the Great and Alexander the Liberator. ...


The officer corps of the Russian army, which effectively vanquished Napoleon in 1812, was constructed from young men of the aristocratic class. These young officers were the same men, who a couple of years earlier, could be found exalting Napoleon in cocktail parties across Europe. Now, while occupying Western Europe, Russian officers were able to see Western society up close. They attended classes at the liberal universities where they heard the same teachings that had inspired the Jacobins. They experienced the prosperity of nations where serfdom had been abolished, and where monarchical power was limited. These officers now saw the West for themselves, and returned to Russia with strengthened liberal ideas, including human rights, representative government, and mass democracy. Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow were built to commemorate the Russian victory against Napoleon. ... In the context of the French Revolution, a Jacobin originally meant a member of the Jacobin Club (1789-1794), but even at that time, the term Jacobins had been popularly applied to all promulgators of extreme revolutionary opinions: for example, Jacobin democracy is synonymous with totalitarian democracy. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. ... Human rights are rights which some hold to be inalienable and belonging to all humans. ... Representative democracy comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein voters choose (in free, secret, multi-party elections) representatives to act in their interests, but not as their proxies—i. ...


The intellectual Westernization that had been fostered in the 18th century by a paternalistic, autocratic Russian state now included opposition to autocracy, demands for representative government, calls for the abolition of serfdom, and, in some instances, advocacy of a revolutionary overthrow of the government. (These ideas had been imported during the reign of Czarena Catherine the Great -- despite the warnings of Frederick the Great of Prussia.) Officers were particularly incensed that Alexander had granted Poland a constitution while Russia remained without one. Several clandestine organizations drafted the projects for Russian constitution, one project providing for the constitutional monarchy and another favouring a democratic republic. Westernization (or westernisation) is a process whereby traditional, long-established societies come under the influence of Western culture in such matters as industry and technology, law, politics and economics, lifestyle and diet, language and the alphabet, religion and values. ... Representative democracy comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein voters choose (in free, secret, multi-party elections) representatives to act in their interests, but not as their proxies—i. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Catherine II (Екатерина II Алексеевна: Yekaterína II Alekséyevna, April 21, 1729 - November 6, 1796), born Sophie Augusta Fredericka, known as Catherine the Great, reigned as empress of Russia from... Frederick the Great Frederick II of Prussia (Friedrich der Große, Frederick the Great, January 24, 1712 – August 17, 1786) was the Hohenzollern king of Prussia 1740–86. ... A secret society is an organization that requires its members to conceal certain activities—such as rites of initiation—from outsiders. ... Constitutional monarchies with representative parliamentary systems are shown in red. ... In a broad definition, a republic is a state or country that is led by people whose political power is based on principles that are not beyond the control of the people of that state or country. ...


These societies were Masonic in style, and consisted primarily of military officers. The first real society formed was the Union of Salvation, established in St. Petersburg in 1816. A group of officers gathered together and formed this secret society of vague purpose. The testimony of some Decembrists claimed the society was dedicated to the emancipation of serfs while others insisted its purpose was to expel foreign influences from Russia. Further testimony claimed that the objectives of the society, known only to the members of the highest degree, were representative government and the refusal to take the oath of allegiance to the new sovereign unless he agreed to a limited monarchy. The Masonic Square and Compasses. ...


A founding member of the Union of Salvation, Nikita Muraviev, had been educated by an admirer of Robespierre. Muraviev was among the soldiers to enter Paris at the end of the war against Napoleon, and he there met many of the major political actors of the time. Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre, (May 6, 1758–July 28, 1794), known also to his contemporaries as the Incorruptible, is one of the best known of the leaders of the French Revolution. ...


When internal politics and betrayal forced the dissolution of the society and the formation of the Northern and Southern Societies, Muraviev was chosen as the architect and leader of the Northern Society. Muraviev began the constitution by addressing the origin and nature of philosophy, and thereby provided an intellectual challenge to the czar’s absolute right to rule. According to the Northern Society’s constitution, the sovereignty of the state resides with the Russian people, and is relegated by them to the Tsar. Muraviev expected implementation of this less radical constitution to meet with less resistance from the Tsar and the other nobles. Once the country had accepted the constitution, there would be time for further liberalization and movement towards a republic.


Leading the Southern Society, Pavel Ivanovich Pestel wrote a far more radical constitution. Pestel desired the complete destruction of the Tsarist regime through revolution, and the introduction of a republic by a temporary dictatorship. Pestel designed his final plan to destroy any possible resumption of Romanov rule. The idea, based on that of Riego in Spain, called for a swift coup d'état to limit instability, and the elimination of the entire royal family. Following assumption of power, the Southern Society planned for the complete “Russification” of the empire. The republican government would recognize the autonomy of Poland, incorporate smaller nations on the borders, and require the conversion of all other peoples within; except for the Jews who would be deported to Asia Minor, where they were expected to establish an independent state. Among his more radical plans, Pestel’s agrarian reforms demonstrated familiarity with the French revolutionary literature. In his constitution, Pestel granted land to every Russian with a desire to farm. Pavel Pestel Colonel Pavel Ivanovich Pestel (Павел Иванович Пестель in Russian) (June 24(N.S. July 5), 1793, Moscow - July 13 (N.S. July 25), 1826, Petersburg) was a Russian revolutionary and ideologue of the Decembrists. ... Rafael del Riego Rafael del Riego y Nuñez (9 April 1784 - 7 November 1823) was a Spanish general and liberal politician. ... A coup d’État (pronounced ), or simply coup, is the sudden overthrow of a government through unconstitutional means by a part of the state establishment — mostly replacing just the high-level figures. ...


The two societies remained independent, and their leaders maintained philosophical differences all the way through the revolt.[1] In the mid-1820s, the Northern society in St. Petersburg and the Southern society in Kishinev were preparing for an uprising when Alexander's unexpected death on December 1, 1825 -- amidst suspicious circumstances, such as an attempted kidnapping and the coincidental death of his wife -- spurred them to action. Chişinău (Russian Кишинёв, Kishinyov, also Kishinev; Moldovan Cyrillic Кишинэу), estimated population 920,000 (2002), is the capital of Moldova. ... December 1 is the 335th (in leap years the 336th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway 1825 (MDCCCXXV) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ...


Alexander I died having left no direct heir to the throne. The populace expected that on the death of Alexander, his liberal-minded brother Constantine Pavlovich would ascend the throne in accordance with house law. Unbeknownst to the public, upon Constantine’s marriage to a non-royal Polish woman, Constantine had agreed to renounce his claim to the throne in favour of his autocratic younger brother Nicholas I. In 1822, Alexander had signed a declaration to the effect that Nicholas would take the throne upon his death. This document had only been seen by a few trusted members of the royal family. We note that Constantine's marriage to a Polish woman is reflective of the attraction of the Polish Golden Liberty ideology upon the Russian aristocracy. Constantine was known for his repugnant physical features which resembled those of his father, Emperor Paul. ... House law or House laws are rules that govern a dynastic family in matters of the order of succession and regency. ... Nicholas I (Russian: Николай I Павлович, Nikolai I Pavlovich), July 6 (June 25, Old Style), 1796–March 2 (February 18, Old Style), 1855), was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855. ... Golden Liberty (latin: Aurea Libertas, Polish: Złota Wolność, sometimes used in plural form; this phenomena can be also reffered to as Golden Freedoms, Nobles Democracy or Nobles Commonwealth, Polish: Rzeczpospolita Szlachecka) refers to a unique democratic political system in the Kingdom of Poland and later, after...


At the Senate Square

Decembrist Revolt
Decembrist Revolt

When Alexander died on December 1, 1825, the royal guards swore allegiance to Constantine. When Constantine made his renunciation public, and Nicholas stepped forward to assume the throne, the Northern Society acted. With the capital in temporary confusion, and one oath to Constantine having already been sworn, the society scrambled in secret meetings to convince regimental leaders not to swear allegiance to Nicholas. These efforts would culminate in the events of December 14. Image File history File links Vasily F. Timm (1820-95). ... Image File history File links Vasily F. Timm (1820-95). ... December 1 is the 335th (in leap years the 336th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway 1825 (MDCCCXXV) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... December 14 is the 348th day of the year (349th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ...


On the morning of December 14, 1825, a group of officers commanding about 3,000 men assembled in Senate Square, where they refused to swear allegiance to the new tsar, Nicholas I, proclaiming instead their loyalty to the idea of a Russian constitution. They expected to be joined by the rest of the troops stationed in St. Petersburg, but they were disappointed. Nicholas spent the day gathering a military force, and then attacked with artillery. With the firing of the artillery came the end of the revolt in the north. December 14 is the 348th day of the year (349th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway 1825 (MDCCCXXV) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... Allegiance is the duty which a subject or a citizen owes to the state or to the sovereign of the state to which he belongs. ... Monomakhs Cap symbol of Russian autocracy, the crown of Russian grand princes and tsars Czar and tzar redirect here. ...


On December 14 the leaders (many of whom belonged to the high aristocracy) elected Prince Sergei Trubetskoy as interim dictator and marched to the Senate Square. The subordinate soldiers had to follow suit. December 14 is the 348th day of the year (349th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Sergei Petrovich Troubetzkoy (29 August 1790 – 22 November 1860) was a Prince, Decembrist. ... World dictatorships. ...


The revolt suffered because those in charge communicated poorly with the soldiers involved in the uprising. Soldiers in St. Petersburg were made to chant "Constantine and Constitution," but when questioned, many of them reportedly professed to believe that "Constitution" was Constantine's wife. This may just be a rumor, however, because in a letter from Peter Kakhovsky to General Levashev, Kakhovsky says, "The story told to Your Excellency that, in the uprising of December 14 the rebels were shouting 'Long live the Constitution!' and that the people were asking 'What is Constitution, the wife of His Highness the Grand Duke?' is not true. It is an amusing invention." Kakhovsky claims that this is nothing but a story.


When Prince Trubetskoy failed to turn up at the square, Nicholas sent Count Mikhail Miloradovich, a military hero who was greatly respected by ordinary soldiers, to pacify the rebels. While delivering a speech, Miloradovich was shot dead by the officer Peter Kakhovsky. Count Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich (October 1 (O.S.), 1771 - December 14 (O.S.), 1825) was a Russian general prominent during the Napoleonic wars. ... Peter Kakhovsky Peter Grigorievich Kakhovsky (Russian: , 1797 - July 25 N.S. 1826) was a Russian officer, active participant of Decembrist revolt, killer of Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich and colonel Sturler. ...


While the Northern Society scrambled in the days leading up to December 14, the Southern Society took a serious blow. On December 13, acting on reports of treason, the police arrested Pestel. It took two weeks for the Southern Society to learn of the events in the capital. Meanwhile, other members of the leadership were arrested. The Southern Society, and a nationalistic group called the United Slavs discussed revolt. When learning of the location of some of the arrested men, the United Slavs freed them by force. One of the freed men, Muraviev-Apostol, assumed leadership of the revolt. After converting the soldiers of Vasilkov to the cause, Muraviev-Apostol easily captured the city. The rebelling army was soon confronted by superior forces armed with artillery loaded with grapeshot, and with orders to destroy the rebels. December 14 is the 348th day of the year (349th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... December 13 is the 347th day of the year (348th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Grapeshot was a kind of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons. ...


On January 3, the rebels met defeat and the surviving leaders were sent to St. Petersburg to stand trial with the northern leaders. The Decembrists were interrogated, tried, and convicted. Kakhovsky was executed by hanging together with four other leading Decembrists: Pavel Pestel; the poet Kondraty Ryleyev; Sergey Muravyov-Apostol; and Mikhail Bestuzhev-Ryumin. Other Decembrists were exiled to Siberia, Kazakhstan, and the Far East. January 3 is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Pavel Pestel Colonel Pavel Ivanovich Pestel (Павел Иванович Пестель in Russian) (June 24(N.S. July 5), 1793, Moscow - July 13 (N.S. July 25), 1826, Petersburg) was a Russian revolutionary and ideologue of the Decembrists. ... Kondraty Fyodorovich Ryleyev (Russian: , September 29 (September 18 O.S.), 1795, - July 25 (July 13 O.S.), 1826) was a Russian poet and revolutionary, and one of the leaders in the Decembrist revolt. ... Sergey Muravyov-Apostol Sergey Ivanovich Muravyov-Apostol (Russian: October 9 N.S. 1796 – July 25 N.S. 1826) was a Russian Lieutenant Colonel, one of the organizers of the Decembrist revolt. ... Mikhail Bestuzhev-Ryumin by A. Ivanovsky Mikhail Pavlovich Bestuzhev-Ryumin (Russian: , June 04 N.S. 1801 - July 25 N.S. 1826) - was a Russian officer, one of the organizers of Decembrist revolt. ... Siberian Federal District (darker red) and the broadest definition of Siberia (red) Udachnaya pipe Siberia (Russian: , Sibir; Tatar: ) is a vast region of Russia constituting almost all of Northern Asia. ... The far east as a cultural block includes East Asia, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and South Asia. ...


When the five Decembrists were hanged something unusual happened. The ropes that were being used to hang them split before any of them actually died.[2] This caused a sigh of relief in the crowd because, according to a centuries-old tradition, any condemned prisoner who survived a botched execution would be set free. Rather than free these prisoners, Nicholas ordered new ropes and the prisoners were hanged again. This was the last public execution in Russian imperial history.


Suspicion also fell on several eminent persons who were on friendly terms with the Decembrist leaders and could have been aware of their clandestine organizations, notably Aleksandr Pushkin, Alexander Griboedov, and Aleksey Ermolov. Wives of many Decembrists followed their husbands into exile. The expression Decembrist wife is a Russian symbol of the devotion of a wife to her husband. Aleksandr Pushkin by Vasily Tropinin Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (Russian: Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Пу́шкин, Aleksandr Sergeevič PuÅ¡kin,  ) (June 6, 1799 [O.S. May 26] – February 10, 1837 [O.S. January 29]) was a Russian Romantic author who is considered to be the greatest Russian poet[1] [2][3] and the founder of modern Russian... Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov (Александр Сергеевич Грибоедов in Russian) (January 15, 1795 - February 11, 1829) was a Russian diplomat, playwright, and composer, whose brilliant comedy in verse... Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov, or Ermolov (1777-1861), was the premier Russian military hero during the golden age of Russian Romanticism. ... EXILE is a 6-member Japanese pop music band. ...


Assessment

With the failure of the Decembrists, Russia's monarchial absolutism would continue for another century, although serfdom would be officially abolished in 1861. Though defeated, the Decembrists did effect some change on the regime. Their dissatisfaction forced Nicholas to turn his attention inward to address the issues of the empire. In 1826, a rehabilitated Speransky began the task of codifying Russian law, a task that continued throughout Nicholas’s reign. Anecdotally, after being defeated in the Crimean War, Nicholas is said to have lamented that his corrupt staff treated him worse than the Decembrists ever had. Combatants United Kingdom France Ottoman Empire Kingdom of Sardinia Russian Empire Casualties 17,500 British 90,000 French 35,000 Turkish 2,050 Sardinian killed, wounded and died of disease 256,000 killed, wounded and died of disease The Crimean War lasted from 1854 until 1 April 1856 and was...


Although the revolt was a proscribed topic during Nicholas' reign, Alexander Herzen placed the profiles of executed Decembrists on the cover of his radical periodical Polar Star. Aleksandr Pushkin addressed poems to his Decembrist friends, Nikolai Nekrasov wrote a long poem about the Decembrist wives, and Leo Tolstoy started writing a novel on that liberal movement, which would later evolve into War and Peace. Aleksandr Ivanovich Herzen (Алекса́ндр Ива́нович Ге́рцен) (April 6 [O.S. 25 March] 1812 in Moscow - January 21 [O.S. 9 January] 1870 in Paris) was a major Russian pro-Western writer and thinker known as the father of Russian socialism. He is held responsible for creating a political climate leading to the emancipation... Aleksandr Pushkin by Vasily Tropinin Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (Russian: Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Пу́шкин, Aleksandr Sergeevič PuÅ¡kin,  ) (June 6, 1799 [O.S. May 26] – February 10, 1837 [O.S. January 29]) was a Russian Romantic author who is considered to be the greatest Russian poet[1] [2][3] and the founder of modern Russian... Nikolai Alekseevich Nekrasov (November 28, 1821 - January 8, 1878 {O.S.: December 28, 1877}) was a Russian poet, best remembered as the long standing publisher of Современник (The Contemporary) (from 1846 until July 1866, when the journal was shut down... Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: , Lev Nikolaevič Tolstoj), commonly referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 [O.S. August 28] – November 20, 1910 [O.S. November 7]) was a Russian novelist, writer, essayist, philosopher, Christian anarchist, pacifist, educational reformer, vegetarian, moral thinker and an influential member of... War and Peace (Russian: Война и мир, Voyna i mir; in original orthography: Война и миръ, Voyna i mir) is an epic novel by Leo Tolstoy, first published from 1865 to 1869 in Russki Vestnik, which tells the story of Russian society during the Napoleonic Era. ...


To some extent, the Decembrists were in the tradition of a long line of palace revolutionaries who wanted to place their candidate on the throne, but because the Decembrists also wanted to implement a liberal political program, their revolt has been considered the beginning of a revolutionary movement. The uprising was the first open breach between the government and liberal elements, and it would subsequently widen. The storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789 during the French Revolution. ...


References

  1. ^ a b c Hosking, Geoffrey (2001). Russia and the Russians: A History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 259-264. ISBN 0-674-01114-7.
  2. ^ "It seems there had been a rain the night before and the ropes had shrunk", Peter Julicher has observed. See: Julicher, Peter. Renegades, Rebels and Rogues Under the Tsars. McFarland & Company, 2003. ISBN 0-7864-1612-2. Page 173.

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