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History: The Imperial Succession Problem Essay

Imperial succession is a method of power succession, whereby the reigning emperor is able to appoint the successor without necessarily having to consult with anyone. It is a practice that has been applied in Russia, among other nations across the world. Despite having been a positive way to pass on power, imperial succession has been met with a number of challenges and caused a number of problems in Russia and in some of the other nations where it has been used.

In fact, in many of the kingdoms, the succession has been associated with violence, as it has led to the eruption of wars and violence in various occasions (Horan, 1998). The violence normally occurs between or among the branches of the ruling family, especially in the event that one family loses its throne. The family that fails to succeed remains actively involved in questioning the ruling of the reigning family in an effort to claim back the throne.

The establishment of the imperial family in Russia was promulgated by Emperor Paul I in the fundamental laws of the Russian Empire. Article 126 to Article 223 in Section 2 of these laws defined the establishment of the Imperial Family. In the same Section, the rights of succession were outlined in Article 126 to Article 182.

The Decembrist Rising was a kind of revolution that took place in Imperial Russia on the 26th of December in the year 1825. On that evening, there was a protest conducted by about 3,000 soldiers led by the Russian army officers. The officers were against Nicholas I’s assumption of the throne, following his brother Constantine removing himself from the lineage of succession.

The reason why this revolution was called the Decembrist Rising is that it happened in December (Romanovich, 2010). The uprising that happened at the Senate Square in Saint Petersburg was suppressed by Nicholas I. Among the problems that occurred on that eve included the arrest of some people, who were then charged with treason.

Most notably, a man called Pavel Pestel was arrested by the police on the 25th of December. The revolution was discussed by a group called United Slavs. These were the men who later freed some of the people who were arrested by force. A man called Sergey Muravyov-Apostol was freed and he later became one of the leaders of the revolution (Romanovich, 2010).

This is one of the biggest revolutions that happened in Russia and the events that happened on that day were outweighed by the significance of the revolution in Russian history. It was also a mark of the watershed in the rebel movements in Russia. The main idea of the revolution was to oppose the appointment of Nicholas I as the successor of Constantine and have Prince Trubetskpoy appointed as an interim dictator.

Prince Trubetskpoy was to be on the throne until the adoption of a new constitution. The revolution was, however, weak and it lacked proper leadership due to the panicking of Prince Trubetskpoy, who eventually sought refuge in the Austrian embassy (Romanovich, 2010). His deputy also withdrew from the revolution and turned himself to the police.

In retaliation, Nicholas gathered his own troops. This led to the eruption of violence that led to the loss of about 1200 lives within a span of one hour. The most negative thing is that most of the people who lost their lives were not part of the conspiracy. Instead, they were people just passing by and were just watching the events. Days later, the conspirators were turned in and Nicholas remained on the throne.

In your opinion, how radical were the Decembrists? Considering the specificities of the Russian Empire, what were the manifestations of their radicalism?

The people who had organized the Decembrist Rising were known as the Decembrists. They were considered to be highly radical, given the fact that some of the things that happened on that day were highly radical. For instance, the killings that took place within a span of one hour were too many, which made the event get a higher significance in the history of Russia. Killing the passers-by and overseers was very radical.

The radicalism of the whole event was even made worse by the fact that the revolution was considered not to have a clear objective (Raw & Tutan, 2013). The decision to oppose the appointment of Nicholas I as the next Emperor was a move that caused more chaos and divisions, instead of uniting the nation.

In general, the radicalism of the events was signified by the killings and the violence that took place. The manner in which the group expressed its interests was not the best way available. Although it was a way of communicating grievances, it caused too many deaths. The initial intention may have been clear, but the actual events that took place were of a high magnitude, such that they clouded the initial objective.

There could have been, possibly, a better way to demonstrate and still oppose the appointment of Nicholas I, but still maintain a high level of peace and reduce or eradicate killings completely. The radicalism was made even worse when Nicholas called his own troops. The violence that erupted between the two troops made the situation more deadly.

Liberalism followed the Decembrist Rising. It came at a time when the Decembrist Rising was fading away and peace was coming back. The union of the Decembrists came following their adoption of liberalism. Therefore, it can be concluded that liberalism united the Decembrists, but radicalism divided them. The division caused by radicalism was evident when the leadership of the whole movement became weak, as some leaders opted to be against the movement.

For instance, Prince Trubetskpoy ran to find refuge in the Austrian embassy, while his next in command gave himself up to the police (Wren & Stults, 2009). It is an indication that the leaders were not united towards a common course. In any organization, it is not easy to achieve the set objectives without good and strong leadership.

This kind of leadership lacked in the revolution. Leadership was, however, restored when liberalism was adopted. The leaders supported the movement and it gained strong leadership, which then united the Decembrists. The revolution could be termed as a failure, although it had great effects. Its main cause of failure was the radicalism with which it approached events.

The Slavophiles and the Westernizers: did they have a common ground? Could these people prevent the spirit of extreme radicalism from setting foot on Russian soil?

The Slavophiles and the Westernizers were two groups that came up in Russia in the 19th century. They were groups of intellectuals and their main aim was to change the way things were run in Russia, especially the leadership in the country. The two groups had a common ground, as they were both intellectual groups.

However, they had different principles and ideologies regarding leadership. For instance, the Slavophiles believed that Russia had unique traditions, as well as a unique destiny (Wren & Stults, 2009). On the other hand, the Westernizers believed that Russia had a history that was similar to that of the West. Slavophiles had the objective of developing a Russian Empire that was based on values and institutions. The Empire’s values were to be derived from Russian history and traditions.

The Slavophiles did not like the influence of the West in the country. Slavophiles were actually people who feared the Slavic culture and some Russians dubbed it the pro-western- ism or the Slavophobia. Among other things that the Slavophiles advocated for was the emancipation of serfs. They also wanted the freedom of speech to be granted to the people of Russia and end the dictatorship that was the major barrier to the freedom of speech.

They were in support of autocracy, but they did not support political participation at the same time. They believed that people should not be actively involved in politics and political decisions. They could be described as nationalists. Among the top people who advocated for Slavophiles included Ivan Kireyevsky, Aleksey Khomiakov, and Konstantin, and Ivan Aksakov (Romanovich, 2010).

On the other hand, the Westernizers were the people who embraced Western influence in Russia. They were people who believed that the development of Russia depended mostly on the influence brought into the country by the Western Europeans. They believed that for Russia to develop, it needed to adopt the Western way of doing things, especially technology and liberalism (Raw & Tutan, 2013).

Russia needed to implement some of the western ways of doing things, such as industrialization, to develop. This implementation would make the country become successful, both economically and politically. In other words, these were the people who supported the Western style of economic development. While some of the people who supported Westernization were liberals, others became socialists. There were also a group of people who became radical in the Westernization movement.

Westernizers were people who were highly rational in their decisions and agonistic at the same time, as opposed to being mystical and emotional. They were people, who could possibly help the nation prosper economically, save for the radicalism that some of them embraced. Among the top people in this movement included Piotr Y. Chaadayev, Aleksandr I. Herzen, and Vissarion G. Belinsky (Romanovich, 2010).

The different principles of the two groups were likely to cause divisions in the country. However, the fact that they were two groups of intellectuals meant that they could have a significant effect in reducing or eradicating radicalism in the country. But, this was not a guarantee that they could prevent radicalism from setting its foot in the Russian soil (Raw & Tutan, 2013).

One of the reasons why the two groups could not prevent radicalism is the fact that some of the westerners were in support of radicalism, thus they could not be in a position to stop radicalism when they were radical in the first place. The difference between the two groups could actually catalyze radicalism, especially given the fact that some of the people were already radical.

Comment on the main principles of the Emancipation of Russian peasants in 1861. What can you draw from the Tsar Alexander II Manifesto regarding that?

After the Decembrist rising, there followed a reform whereby liberalism was introduced in Russia. The first move towards liberalism was in the year 1861 in a reform that was dubbed the Emancipation Reform of 1861 (Raw & Tutan, 2013). It was also the most important reform that happened in the country that was previously dominated by radicalism and dictatorship.

The uprising was implemented at the time when Alexander II was the emperor of Russia. This reform, in relation to another reform in the same year, amounted to the serf dependence liquidation. Serf dependence was suffered by the peasants of the Empire prior to this reform. There were some areas where serf dependence was abolished, although it still remained in some other areas.

There was an emancipation manifesto that was designed to guide the reform. The manifesto was important as it helped over 23 million people get their freedom. It helped in freeing most serfs, who were granted full rights as the citizens of Russia. Among the things that were manifested by the Emancipation, manifesto included the rights of the peasants to marry without necessarily having to consult or get consent from other authorities (Raw & Tutan, 2013).

The peasants were also allowed to own property and other assets, as well as the right to conduct and carry out business transactions. It should be noted that these were some of the factors that could be negatively effective in developing the Russian economy. For instance, the peasants were able to buy land and they could become landlords later after the emancipation. Although the fact that the peasants were given the freedom to own land, household serfs were not allowed to own land; however, they were also freed.

The peasants were in two main categories before the emancipation started. The first category was the group of peasants who were living on the state lands, which were owned by the government’s Ministry of State Property. The other group was that of peasants who were living on land that was owned privately. The peasants living in private landowners were referred to as serfs. A number of politicians led the emancipation in the year 1861 reform. They included Nikolay Milyutin, Alexei Strol’man, and Yakov Rostovtsev (Romanovich, 2010).

Each province was to have an office of Peasant Affairs. The office was to address all the problems that the peasants faced, as well as the affairs of the peasants. The offices were located in the estates of the nobility. All misunderstandings among the peasants were to be solved by the arbiters, who were appointed in every district. It was expected that new arrangements were likely to cause misunderstandings.

These misunderstandings were to be addressed by the arbiters. Peace offices were to be organized in offices located in all the estates of the nobles. The aim of these offices was to unite all the communes. There had been a lot of divisions in the country, which were mainly caused by the radicalism that had dominated in the previous regimes. The amount of land that was to be allocated to each of the peasants was to be formulated, verified, and confirmed in every village estate.

Analyze the roots of Russia’s early Populism. Would it be a correct thing to say that the Populism in its entirety was caused by the deficiencies of the Peasant reform?

Populism is a political doctrine that focuses on ensuring that all the interests of the people have been addressed. The doctrine gives priority to the interests of the people, as opposed to the interests of the elite. It is a political doctrine that has been used by many political parties against their rivals.

Populism has been used in a number of countries and has evoked mixed reactions from the political parties and the citizens of the countries in which it has been used. Populism in Russia was a movement that started with the radical enlightenment in the 1860s (Raw & Tutan, 2013). The development of populism was influenced by a number of people, one of the most significant people being Chernyshevsky and the work he did.

The factions that were associated with populism were all united by faith among the people of Russia and the institutions that were in the village estates. It is imperative to note that populism was seen as the perfect alternative to capitalism. Populism was seen as the best way in which the Russian people could move from capitalism and develop socialism. Capitalism was seen as not addressing the needs and the plight of people and tended to lay more emphasis on capital growth and development, as opposed to the wellbeing of the people.

Populism was embraced by the Russian people mainly because it cherished the Russian peasants. Just like the Slavophiles, populism was supportive of the Russian culture and traditions; thus, its roots could be traced to the native Russians. Its major emphasis was not political issues (Shirkey, 2012). Populism focused mainly on the social issues and the wellbeing of the peasants. However, this changed later, especially when terror organizations, as well as revolutionary movements, started to form.

The peasant reforms had a number of flaws that affected the speed at which they were implemented. First, the reforms were led by politicians, but they were expected to address the social issues of the peasants (Raw & Tutan, 2013). This was not going to be highly efficient as the people who led the reforms had their political ambitions, which was one of the reasons why the leaders had to come up with an option that would focus more on the welfare of the people, rather than politics.

It can, therefore, be concluded that populism was adopted as a result of the deficiencies of the peasant reforms. The aim was to improve the deficiencies and come up with a movement that would be of help to the people of Russia in terms of social needs and further improve the chances of success of peasant reforms.

Analyze the Ideology of “Official Nationality.” Did it mean that Russia was trying to become a Nation-State led by ethnic Russians or did it mean more than that?

“Official nationality” is an ideology that requires people to identify with the nation in which they are citizens. The people need to be registered as the citizens of the nation. There are a number of ways in which people can become nationals of a given country. Gaining a national identity is important as it helps people to enjoy the rights that are designated by the constitution in the country. It also gives people a chance to enjoy the various privileges provided by the national government (Shirkey, 2012).

The ideology of “official nationality” in Russia was an aspect that came at the time of reforms and was aimed at giving citizens the freedom to enjoy more rights. The peasants, through the help of the official nationality, could freely do business, as long as they were able to identify themselves as citizens of Russia. All citizens were to be registered and given a means through which they could identify themselves.

The term “official nationality” in Russia was very important as it is the one that denoted the political views, as well as the reactionary socials of the ruling empire and the Tsarists. The theory of official nationality was most popular in the years 1796 to 1855, a time when Nicholas I was in reign. Areas such as science, literature, and education were also noted through the theory of official nationality. Autocracy was common during this era and it was a major characteristic of the theory.

Russia was facing a decision between liberalization and maintenance of order during the period of official nationality. It is a time when Russia was starting to recognize Russians and giving them priority over the rest of the people (Raw & Tutan, 2013). It was in line with the Slavophobia idea that recognized the native Russian cultures and believed that the nation could develop if only Russia became unique in its values and cultures.

To some extent, it could be said that the theory of official nationality was trying to make Russia become a nation state, whereby all the leaders in the government offices and positions were ethnic Russians (Shirkey, 2012). It would be a barrier to the introduction of western practices and the rule of the Western Europeans. However, this was not the only meaning of the ideology. It also aimed at protecting Russia from revolutions and violence.

It was thought that establishing a leadership comprised of native Russians would make the people more cooperative and the level of resistance would be reduced. It would give the whole nation a feeling of belonging and originality. In addition, the move would help in curtailing the many changes that could be brought by the western leaders. “Official nationality”, therefore, had a deeper meaning than just making Russia become a nation-state led by ethnic Russians.


Horan, B. P. (1998). The Russian imperial succession. Retrieved from http://riuo.org/RussianImperialSuccession/russianimperialsuccession.html

Raw, L., & Tutan, D. E. (2013). The adaptation of history: Essays on ways of telling the past.

Romanovich, N. (2010). Succession of the Imperial House of Russia. Retrieved from http://romanovfamily.org/succession.html >

Shirkey, Z. C. (2012). Joining the fray: Outside military intervention in civil wars. Surrey, England: Ashgate.

Wren, M. C., & Stults, T. (2009). The course of Russian history. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock.

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