The Decembrists

The Decembrist Revolt was a result of and consisted of a state of confusion. Russians in whole did not have a firm understanding of the line of succession, and so when Nicholas came to power rather than Constantine many people felt betrayed. The Decembrists revolt came from a group of people in the Russian army who decided to make a public statement by not swearing allegiance to Nicholas as their loyalties were with Constantine. However, because the declaration of Nicholas as tsar was abrupt the organization of the revolt was as well (“poorly and hastily planned, inadequately executed… no other units joined them”). There was some hierarchy in the design (from the various officers in the army) but in general there was no order. Nicholas suppressed this revolt quickly by ordering the artillery to fire against them, and many leaders that survived were either forced into exile along with their families or were hanged. This event determined much of Nicholas’s mentality toward his reign. This was his very first experience as tsar: To see a lack of loyalty towards the imperial rule and a lack of respect towards the hierarchy of the state proved to him that he must strictly enforce his will. His entire regime was a reactionary tactic against people who didn’t support him (censorship for the intellectuals, secret police for the underground societies, supporting serfdom for the peasants) because he viewed his reign as constantly being pushed back against by the people- and the more he pushed back, the more the people disapproved of his rule

One thought on “The Decembrists

  1. One question that I continue to return to is why Constantine’s renunciation of the crown was not made public. If the Russian people had known that Constantine gave up the throne and that Nicholas would ascend instead, would there still have been a Decembrist revolt? The revolt appears to have been primarily spurred by confusion of succession, although there were, of course, deeper underlying issues as well.

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