The Decembrist Revolution

The Decembrists failed at their mission (namely to overthrow Nicholas and place Constantine on the throne as tsar) because of poor leadership and a small following. After marching upon Senate Square, the soldiers merely stood there, waiting for orders and additional supporters, both of which never came.

Nicholas handled the uprising swiftly, surrounding Senate Square and eventually opening fire on the crowd, which quickly dissipated. He gathered up the officers involved in the failed revolution and jailed them, sending a clear message to all others who dared to question his legitimacy to the throne.

Most interestingly, Nicholas’s elder brother, Constantine, renounced his claim to the throne in the 1820s, not even five years prior to the tsar’s death. His renunciation, however, was kept secret from the public until after Alexander’s death.

Speculation exists as to why this crucial bit of information was kept from the general public. Was it Alexander’s attempt to quell any potential riots, as the public loved Constantine? Did Alexander plan on announcing Constantine’s renunciation, but just wanted to wait for the right political moment?

Regardless of Alexander’s decision to hide Constantine’s renunciation, the Decembrist Revolution exposed Russia to a glimpse of its future. The Decembrists ideologically opposed the Russian autocracy and sought to establish Western sensibilities within the Russian government. This was the first revolution founded on a dramatic shift of ideas.


3 thoughts on “The Decembrist Revolution

  1. What I found most interesting about this reading was how the author discussed the soldiers’ reactions to being punished. Rather than denying any involvement, or even simply being angry and belligerent, the soldiers apparently not only accepted their sentences, but they were also contrite. This was because their challenging of the tsar was morphed into a challenge of the state (which they didn’t want to do). I thought it was intriguing how the insurgents strove to differentiate their rebellion, and specify that it was against the tsar rather than against the state, because didn’t the state help to put the tsar in power? The soldiers loved and respected the state, they just hated the actual monarch. I don’t know if I agree that this was a complete failure however, I think rather that its the start of a much more broad movement that would impact Russia for years to come.

  2. What I found the most interesting about this revolt was not just the clear power struggle that was beginning to form between the monarch and the Russian people, but the fact that this was one of the many revolts that occurred during the 1820’s. How wide spread the knowledge of the revolts in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Naples were and how much was inspired by the rebellious attempts of these people? The early 1800’s clearly consisted of multiple power struggles between nations and within nations. The Decembrist Revolution occurred soon after the War of 1812 that it makes me question how devastated Russia was after these events and how long did it take them to rebuild the fallen cities and how much of a factor the end of the war had on revolters?

  3. I do not think that the December revolution was that new in its aims. We had already had multiple revolutions that used similar ideas of freedom and almost every revolution tried to establish a dramatic shift in ideas. What i would say is that the people who participated are very different then most other uprisings as they were nobles and the educated. The event really seems a lot like a 18th century version of the march on wall street were wall street brought out tanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *