BECK index

Poland, Russia & Greek Revolution 1789-1830

by Sanderson Beck

Poland Liberated & Invaded 1788-97
Poland Divided 1798-1830
Russian Empire 1789-1801
Russia under Aleksandr 1801-14
Russia of Aleksandr & Nikolay 1815-30
Greek War of Independence

Poland Liberated & Invaded 1788-97

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 1715-88

      On 6 October 1788 Marshal Stanisław Małachowski and K. N. Sapieha convened the four-year Seym with 181 deputies that became known as the Great Seym. One week later the Prussian envoy protested the alliance with Russia and suggested that Poland ally with Prussia. On the 20th the Seym voted to expand the army to 100,000 men. By the end of the year the Seym had taken control of the departments of war and foreign affairs. On 19 January 1789 they abolished the Permanent Council that had been ruling Poland since the First Partition in 1772. They accepted an army of 65,000 men but with the help of the Hetmen increased the number of cavalry. In March they imposed a 10% tax on szlachta land and 20% on the Church’s, the first time they had been taxed directly. This doubled the revenues of 1788 to 40 million zloty, but still more was needed for the military expenses.
      On 7 September the Seym appointed a Commission to draft a constitution with Ignacy Potocki as chairman. They were assisted by the ideas of Stanisław Staszic and Hugo Kołłątaj. The latter had written A Few Anonymous Letters to Stanisław Małachowski in 1788, and Staszic published his Warnings for Poland in 1790. On 2 December 1789 representatives of 141 towns presented a memorandum written by Kołłątaj to King Stanisław II (r. 1764-95). In 1790 Kołłątaj explained his reforms in his essay “The Political Law of the Polish Nation.” The King asked Potocki, Kołłątaj, and Małachowski to help him write the constitution. The Seym made a treaty with Prussia on 29 March 1790. In the elections on 16 December the party favoring the King was strengthened. In 1791 Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz’s comedy Return of the Envoy satirized the selfish nobles.
      On 18 April 1791 the Seym passed a law making citizens of towns “freemen” and members of the 22 representatives of major towns, but landless szlachta were excluded. On 3 May the Constitution was read aloud and passed by the 182 deputies. Catholicism was recognized as the state religion, but every citizen was free to practice one’s religion freely. The Seym was to have the main legislative and executive powers. Voting was to be by majority with no veto. The administration was headed by the King and the Royal Council made up of Poland’s Primate, five ministers, and two secretaries appointed by the King. This was the first written Constitution for a modern European nation, and it was praised by Condorcet, Paine, and Burke. Its liberal provisions allowed peasants to leave their villages and gain their freedom by military service, attracting some peasants from Russia, Prussia, and the Austrian Empire.
      Poland had about nine million people in 1792. On 14 February the newly elected seymiki approved the Constitution despite bribes by Tsarina Ekaterina (Catherine) II to encourage opposition. On 27 April she got Polish placemen to form a Confederation in St. Petersburg, but it was promulgated as occurring on 14 May in the border town of Targowica. They opposed the revolution of 3 May 1791 and appealed to Russia for troops, and 97,000 Russian troops invaded on 18 May 1792. Poland could field only 37,000 inexperienced recruits, and Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm II, who was busy fighting the French, ignored Poland’s appeal. Stanisław II’s nephew Józef Poniatowski led a corps of 15,357 men who defeated 11,000 Russians at Zieleńce on 18 June. General Tadeusz Kościuszko led 5,300 soldiers who fought bravely against 25,000 Russians at Dubienka on 18 July, but the Russians kept advancing. Ekaterina bribed Prince Ludwig of Württemberg to march his Lithuanian army away from the fighting. She demanded that her former lover Stanisław II join the Targowica Confederation. He agreed and ordered hostilities ended. Kołłątaj, Potocki, and Małachowski left Poland, and the generals Poniatowski and Kościuszko resigned. Kościuszko went to Paris early in 1793 and suggested that Poland could abolish the monarchy and form a republic with equal rights for all citizens, but neither the Girondists nor the Jacobins would make definite promises.
      Poland was partitioned a second time on 23 January 1793 with Russia getting 250,000 square kilometers (taking White Ruthenia and eastern Red Ruthenia) and Prussia 58,000 (taking the rest of Great Poland), leaving Poland with 212,000 square kilometers and about 4 million people. In February the people of Warsaw prevented the Russians from seizing the arsenal. Danzig (Gdansk) resisted the Prussian siege for ten weeks before starvation forced them to surrender on 4 April. Ekaterina demanded that the Seym ratify the partition in June at Grodna in Lithuania, and after three months of debate the King and the Seym complied. The Seym made a treaty with Russia on 17 August and with Prussia on 23 September. About 1,100,000 Poles became subjects of Prussia. Russia imposed a treaty on Poland in October that enabled them to cancel the 1791 constitution by November. Ekaterina reduced the Polish army to 12,000 men. The Polish economy was paralyzed as Warsaw’s six biggest banks became insolvent. Poland had to pay for the Russian garrison of 40,000 men and customs dues demanded by Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm II. Thousands in Warsaw were unemployed while Targowica Confederates lived on Russian bribes.
      On 21 February 1794 Russians ordered the Polish army reduced again and began arresting suspected subversives. This provoked rebellion. On 12 March a brigade led by General Madalinski reached Krakow. On the 24th the Act of Insurrection of the Citizens of Krakow written by Kościuszko, Kołłątaj, and Potocki announced the right to struggle against tyranny for national independence, and they claimed dictatorial power, giving Kościuszko and a Supreme National Council emergency authority. A provisional constitution freed all the peasants and granted land to any who fought. After the insurrection the Seym was to resume. Kościuszko led a force north, and on 4 April at Racławice his force of 4,100 soldiers and 2,000 peasants defeated 3,000 Russians. On the 17th Russians in Warsaw tried to arrest rebel supporters, and people led by Jan Kilinski rose up against the Russian garrison, killed 4,000 soldiers, and drove the rest out of the capital. Five days later the Jacobin Col. Jakob Jasinski led an uprising in Wilno (Vilnius), and the rebellion spread to other towns. Jews in Warsaw formed a regiment led by Col. Berek Joselewicz. Kołłątaj issued silver coins and banknotes worth 60 million zloty with 8 million circulating, and he confiscated church property and began graded taxes. He converted factories to produce cannons. On 7 May Kościuszko proclaimed his Połaniec Manifesto offering major reforms for peasants in Poland. He ordered the conscription of 100,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. From April to October about 140,000 men passed through the armed forces, but that Polish army never had more than 70,000 men.
      Kościuszko with 15,000 men on 6 June challenged the Prussian King’s army of 26,500 who had 100 more cannons at Szczekociny, and after suffering 1,200 casualties the Poles retreated to Warsaw. On the 15th the Prussians entered Krakow. On the 28th a fanatical mob in Warsaw broke into a prison and hanged people they suspected of treason. Kościuszko ordered many arrests and sentenced the terrorists to death, but he drafted the suspects into the army. He removed Jasinski from commanding the Lithuanian army. On 13 July some 41,000 Russians and 25,000 Prussians besieged Warsaw which had 18,000 militia. On 20 August an uprising broke out in Greater Poland, and this caused the Prussians to leave Warsaw. Kościuszko’s defense of Warsaw persuaded the Russians to withdraw on 6 September.
      Meanwhile other Russians had taken Wilno in mid-August. On 19 September at Brest a Russian army of 13,000 killed about 5,000 of the 8,000 Polish fighters. General Dabrowski led a force from Warsaw that defeated a Prussian army at Bydgoszcz on 2 October, and four days later they invaded Royal Prussia. On the 10th Kościuszko’s army met the Russians led by Aleksandr Suvorov at Majiejowice, and Kościuszko was one of the 4,000 casualties. Suvurov’s army attacked the Warsaw suburb of Praga on 4 November and killed about 16,000 people including 7,000 civilians, many of them Jews. On the 16th the new commander Tomasz Wawrzecki and his remaining men were surrounded and captured, ending the Polish struggle for independence. Russians occupied Warsaw, and they deported to St. Petersburg the prisoners Kościuszko, Wawrzecki, Potocki, Kilinski, Niemcewicz, and others.
      On 3 January 1795 Austria allied with Russia against Prussia which made peace on 5 April. The three powers agreed on a treaty on 24 October, and Prussians replaced the Russians in Warsaw on 2 December. Stanisław II had abdicated on 25 November. New borders were agreed on by July 1796, and on 26 January 1797 Russia, Prussia, and the Austrian Empire took the remainder of the Polish nation in the Third Partition of Poland and liquidated its debts. The Russian sector included 1.8 million Poles with more than 640,000 nobles, making it the best educated sector of the Russian Empire.
      On 9 January 1797 the Lombard government appointed Jan Henryk Dąbrowski commander of the Polish Legion in Milan, and within a year they had 10,000 men. In March the Polish officers formed the Military Association led by Col. Joachim Denisko. They issued an Act of Insurrection proclaiming the abolition of serfdom, and Karol Kniaziewic led the National Assembly. Russian intelligence officers arrested several people in May. On 26 June Denisko led 200 men across the Austrian border near Zalishchyky, but four days later an Austrian army defeated them. Denisko and others escaped to Turkey, but those captured were hanged on 11 July. Also in 1797 Józef Wybicki in Paris planned a Polish uprising during a French invasion of Austria. While in northern Italy in July he wrote Dąbrowski's Mazurka to encourage morale, and in 1918 it was made Poland’s national anthem. Stanisław II died in St. Petersburg on 12 February 1798.

Poland Divided 1798-1830

      In 1798 the Society of Polish Republicans was founded. Poles fought to liberate Italy from Austrian and Bourbon domination, and General Zajączek formed a legion in Italy. In 1799 the Polish legions suffered heavy losses especially in June at the battle of Trebbia. General Kniaziewicz led the Danube Legion, and they suffered heavy casualties fighting with the French against Austrians at Marengo in June 1800 and in the victory at Hohenlinden in December.
      Staszic helped found the Warsaw Society of Friends of Learning in 1800. Kościuszko’s secretary Józef Pawlikowski published anonymously the booklet Can the Poles achieve their own liberation? Fouché’s police confiscated them, but it became influential later. After the peace made in 1801 Dąbrowski’s men became the army of Lombardy while others disbanded or were absorbed in the French army. Also in 1801 the Russians divided their sector into eight districts, but Poles retained control over administration and the Seym until 1831. In 1802 France sent 6,000 Polish soldiers to Sainte Domingue where 4,000 died mostly of yellow fever while others joined the black revolt fighting under Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Many educated Poles and landless szlachta became revolutionaries.
      The young Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski went to St. Petersburg as a hostage for the good behavior of his family, and he became a friend of Grand Duke Alexander. In 1801 Tsar Aleksandr made Czartoryski a Minister of Foreign Affairs and put him in charge of education in the eight Western Gubernias in former Polish territory. Dąbrowski’s Polish Corps aided Napoleon against the Prussians at Jena in October 1806. Bonaparte even allowed Dąbrowski to issue in November a call for a Polish insurrection to see if they could form a nation.
      On 28 November a French army led by Murat entered Warsaw, and Napoleon joined them later. He and Tsar Aleksandr at Tilsit in July 1807 forced Prussia to give up the Duchy of Warsaw which was to be under Saxony’s Friedrich August, who had been selected as king by Poles in their Constitution of 3 May 1791. At first it had only 104,000 square kilometers and 2.6 million people, but the Poles would expand it by 1809. In July 1807 Napoleon summoned the Governing Committee to Dresden and told them what to put in the new constitution. Former King Stanisław II’s nephew, Józef Poniatowski, was made commander-in-chief and Minister of War. They had an army of 30,000 Poles, but they were commanded by Marshal Davout. Napoleon provided a constitution and the Napoleonic Code for the Warsaw Duchy. Friedrich August stayed in Dresden while the Warsaw Duchy was governed by the State Council under the French Resident. Stanisław Małachowski and Ignacy’s younger brother Stanisław Kostka Potocki served in the new government. In December 1807 Napoleon decreed the absolute freedom of the peasants in the new Duchy, and Prussia followed that example.
      Napoleon bankrupted the Warsaw Duchy by selling property and confiscated land back to them and by ordering them to pay for a standing army of up to 60,000 men. Then France lent money to the Duchy in exchange for their providing troops. They would send 10,000 soldiers to his Spanish campaign and provided the Chevaux-Léger regiment for his Imperial Guard. Their squadron of 125 men suffered heavy losses while fighting at Somosierra Pass outside Madrid on 30 November 1808. That year a decree suspended the civil liberties of Jews, and general conscription was imposed for six years by all men between the ages of 20 and 28. The Seym convened in Warsaw in early 1809. The elections gave the gentry a majority, and no radicals were in the Chamber of Deputies. Only 15 members of the Chamber elected to three Seym committees could make speeches. Russians had taken Poland’s Zaluski Library, but in 1811 Stanisław Zamoyski offered his excellent library in Warsaw to the general public. The linguist and librarian Samuel Linde published his 6-volume Great Polish Dictionary from 1807 to 1814.
      Austrians invaded in early 1809, but Poniatowski’s Polish army gained strategically in the battle at Raszyn on 19 April against a larger army, and in a counterattack they captured Krakow and Galicia. Count Stanisław Zamoyski claimed the presidency of the provisional government in Lublin. However, in the October treaty of Schönbrunn the Duchy of Warsaw had to give them back to Austria (except for Western Galicia). Poniatowski commanded two armies with 62,000 men in November.
      Napoleon launched what he called a “second Polish war” when he invaded Russia in 1812. His Grand Army included 98,000 Poles, the largest non-French contingent. Poniatowski commanded an army of 40,000 men. They fought heroically and saved Napoleon’s life from aggressive Cossacks. Most of the 72,000 Poles who never came back died of their wounds or from typhus. Although Napoleon left Warsaw without defense, Dąbrowski’s division fought with the French in Germany. Poniatowski led 16,000 troops to Krakow. Tsar Aleksandr forgave the Poles and wanted them as allies, but Poniatowski rejected his offer and also joined the French in Germany. He was mortally wounded in the climactic battle of Leipzig in October 1813. Some of the Chevaux-Léger stayed with Napoleon when he went to the island of Elba in 1814.
      At the Congress of Vienna on 12 January 1815 British Foreign Secretary Castlereagh urged the other powers to grant Poles more of their former homeland, but Tsar Aleksandr opposed an independent homeland for Poland. In February the Russians ceded to Prussia the western portion of the conquered Warsaw Duchy, and it became the Grand Duchy of Posen. After Napoleon’s final defeat the Allies agreed to grant Poland a kingdom with 127,000 square kilometers and 3.3 million people, which was smaller than the Duchy of Warsaw had been in 1809. The city of Krakow was given a small republic to be protected by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
      Prince Czartoryski drafted a liberal constitution. Tsar Aleksandr as King of Poland would control the Congress Kingdom’s foreign policy and police from St. Petersburg, and he appointed his brother Constantine as commander-in-chief at Warsaw. Aleksandr named General Zajączek as his viceroy and Nikolay Novosiltsev as his commissioner, but otherwise the Seym and Senate were to be sovereign. This was the most liberal Kingdom in Europe and had more voters than France which had six times as many people. When Aleksandr opened the Seym in April 1818, he urged them to live up to their duties. Novosiltsev schemed against Polish autonomy and sowed dissension between Aleksandr and Constantine. In 1815 Staszic became the Minister for Religious Denominations and Public Education and the director of the Department of Industry, and the University of Warsaw was founded in 1816. In 1817 Józef Ossoliński opened an archive and library in Lwów that became the Ossoliński Institute. The former Jacobin, Józef Kalasanty Szaniawski, was made chief censor in 1819.
      Adam Mickiewicz and Tomasz Zan founded the literary Philomatic Society in 1817. That year the Varsovian All Things in Common (Panta Kojna) was organized and was connected to people in Germany and Russia. In 1818 Tsar Aleksandr decreed that landowners had administrative power over the people on their estates. The Society of United Slavs was in contact with Russian societies. The police broke up the Union of Free Poles in 1820. After the opposition leader Wincenty Niemojowski criticized government ministers for supporting censorship, Tsar Aleksandr dissolved the Seym, which would not meet again until 1825. In the 1820s Russian repression gradually eroded Poland’s civil liberties. In 1819 Major Walerian Łukasiński had founded the militant National Freemasonry, and the next year to evade the secret police he disbanded it. He started the secret Patriotic Society in 1821. He was arrested in 1822, was sentenced to 14 years, and was imprisoned until his death in 1868. Also in 1821 the Philodelphist Society began, and the Green League was formed to reach out to peasants.
      By 1821 the government was facing bankruptcy. However, that year Prince Lubecki became Minister of the Treasury, and by threatening tax evaders with death he tripled revenue and eliminated the deficit. State monopolies on salt and tobacco were revived. In 1826 he arranged in Paris and London to borrow £1 million, and he established the Polish Bank in 1828.
      In 1823 the Russians fired the Professor of History, Joachim Lelewel, and they had many students arrested including the poet Adam Mickiewicz who wrote the Ode to Youth. Wilno University’s curator, Adam Czartoryski, was also dismissed along with Stanisław Kostka Potocki who had been Commissioner of National Education since 1810. Potocki had got into trouble for publishing his satirical Journey to Ignoranceville in 1820. By then Poland had 1,222 elementary schools and 35 secondary schools. After the Decembrist coup of 1825 the Russian police became even more assertive under Tsar Nicholas. He even arrested the members of a tribunal in order to reverse its verdict and impose sentences. The Tsar’s Private Chancery hired secret police and gave them much power by his edict on 3 July 1826 to investigate and collect reports on suspects who were to be exiled or incarcerated. Ensign Piotr Wysocki led cadets as resistance began to heat up in early 1830.

Russian Empire 1789-1801

Poland-Lithuania and Russia 1715-88

      Russia’s Empress Ekaterina (Catherine) II declared war against the Ottoman Empire on 7 September 1787 after Sultan Abdul Hamid I had demanded in August that she nullify her recent annexation of the Crimea. He had put the Russian ambassador Iakov Bulgakov in a castle dungeon. Austrian Emperor Joseph II offered to support Russia if the Turks attacked, and by February 1788 he had joined her war. She favored a Greek Project to liberate the Greeks from Ottoman rule. In this Second Russo-Turkish War the Russian army led by General Aleksandr Suvorov defended against Turkish attacks from the sea in southern Ukraine. Then the Russians took over Chocim and Jassy. Prince Grigory Potemkin and Suvorov commanded the Russian army that besieged Ochakov from 31 May to 6 December 1788, killing ten times as many Turks as the 956 Russians who died and capturing more than 4,000. Potemkin ordered captured civilians slaughtered.
      In 1789 Russians and their allied Austrians invaded Moldavia, and on the first of August the Russians led by Suvorov defeated a larger Ottoman army led by Osman Pasha at Focsani. About 25,000 Allies won an even more extraordinary victory on 22 September at Râmnic in Wallachia inflicting almost 20,000 casualties while losing only 7,000 against an army of 100,000 men. The Austrians occupied Wallachia until the war ended. On 22 December Suvorov’s army captured the city of Izmail on the Danube. After another Ottoman defeat at Machin on 9 July 1791 the Russians marched toward Istanbul. Suvorov was accused of being drunk and massacring civilians, and he was transferred to Finland. On 9 January 1792 the Russian and Ottoman Empires made peace at Jassy in Moldavia, recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Russia gained the Yedisan territory, making the Dniester River its southwestern border.
      Sweden’s Gustav III took advantage of the Turkish war to attack Russia at sea in June and July 1788. The Russians assaulted Savolax in that June, and their navies fought again near Öland Island in July 1789. The Russians lost 10,000 men and 53 ships at Svenskund on 9-10 July 1790. When the Swedes moved against St. Petersburg, Ekaterina fled to Moscow. On 14 August Sweden and Russia ended this war with the treaty at Värälä confirming the previous situation. In 1789 Ekaterina’s favorite Count Aleksandr Mamonov fell in love with a lady at court, and the Empress approved their marriage, though she said she “received a bitter lesson.” She soon found consolation with the young officer Platon Zubov whom she appointed president of the War College, Governor-general of the Taurida, and commander of the fleet in the Black Sea.
      In May 1790 Aleksandr Radishchev published 625 copies of his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Ekaterina did not like its describing the injustices and cruelties of serfdom, and she sent the Police Chief Ruileiev to arrest the bookseller Zotov and learn the name of the author. On 8 September she ordered the chains removed from Radishchev who was sent to Siberia.
      After Revolutionary France went to war against Austria and Germany in 1792, Ekaterina decided to squelch Poland’s new constitutional government. She was concerned that a hereditary monarchy there was being transferred to Saxony. In March she invited wealthy Feliks Potocki, Hetman Seweryn Rzewuoski, and the adventurer Jan Branicki to St. Petersburg and persuaded them to form a Confederation at Targowica to challenge the new Poland that she believed was corrupted by democratic ideas. On 18 May she sent an army of 32,000 veterans to invade Lithuania, and a few days later 64,000 Russian soldiers marched into the Ukraine. She persuaded her former lover King Stanisław II to side with the Confederation, and he let Suvorov’s army occupy Warsaw.
      In January 1793 Ekaterina and Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm II agreed on the Second Partition of Poland in which Russia took over the grain fields of the Polish Ukraine and about three million Poles. The Polish revolt against this outrage began in March 1794. The outnumbered Poles fought valiantly, but on 9 October at Majiejowice the Russians defeated Kościuszko’s army and took him prisoner. Suvorov’s army overcame Polish defenses at Praga near Warsaw on 3 November, slaughtering soldiers and civilians. Kościuszko and other leaders were taken to St. Petersburg as hostages. Ekaterina was angry that the Prussians withdrew from Warsaw; but Suvorov’s army occupied the city, and eventually in January 1797 Russia, Prussia, and Austria agreed on the Third Partition that divided up what was left of Poland. Russia gained 1,200,000 more people in Lithuania, Courland, and western parts of Podolia and Volynia.
      To finance her wars Ekaterina in the last twenty years of her reign issued almost 200,000,000 paper rubles, and she had drafted many peasants into the army, damaging agriculture. Of the 398,973 male peasants she transferred to private ownership 314,226 were from formerly Polish lands.
      When Persians attacked Georgia, a Russian protectorate, and burned down the city of Tblisi in September 1795, Ekaterina sent an army led by General Valerian Zubov which captured Derbent and Baku.
      Empress Ekaterina II died on 6 November 1796 and was succeeded by her son Pavel (Paul), whose father was probably young Sergei Saltykov. The 42-year-old Pavel had been raised at first by Empress Elizaveta (r. 1741-62), and he was tutored by the philosophical Count Nikita Panin until his death in 1783. Pavel’s second wife was German but changed her name to Maria Feodorovna when she joined the Orthodox Church. She bore the sons Aleksandr and Konstantin. They were raised by Empress Ekaterina who feared that her son Pavel might try to supplant her. After the birth of Aleksandr in 1777 Ekaterina gave Pavel the Pavlovsk estate and in 1783 the estate near St. Petersburg at Gatchina where he enjoyed training soldiers.
      Emperor Pavel sought to bring about peace and help his people, but he was also very autocratic and fanatical about military discipline. He pardoned the Polish leader Kościuszko and other revolutionaries, but he imprisoned many Russian soldiers and others for minor infractions. Pavel’s coronation on 5 April 1797 was very militaristic. He announced the order of succession by the male line of the Romanov dynasty, and he decreed the Statute of the Imperial Family that raised the Romanovs above all others. He ennobled more aristocrats and appointed many men to honorary orders. Pavel withdrew the Russian soldiers from Georgia, exposing its king to Persian revenge. Ekaterina had been planning to reinforce the Austrians and send troops to the Rhine, but Pavel cancelled them.
      He prohibited making serfs work for their masters on Sunday, but his effort to limit their service to them to three days per week was generally ignored. He gave about 200,000 serfs to those who served him, and he extended serfdom into the new territory in the south. During his reign more than 500,000 serfs became landowners.
      Pavel revived central departments of mining, industry, trade, and revenue. He governed through a procurator who administered justice, finance, and public order. Prince Alexei Kurakin was Procurator for the first half of his reign. Pavel reduced the number of senators but gave them more clerical assistants and made the judicial Senate more efficient. In 1797 the Russian Senate made 20,838 decisions, and in 1800 they accomplished 44,480. Pavel abolished the provincial assemblies of the nobles created in 1785, and he had state officials appointed instead of being elected by nobles.
      Emperor Pavel helped organized the Second Coalition against Napoleon in 1798, and in October a Russian fleet commanded by Fyodor Ushakov took Ionian islands from the French and set up the republic of the Seven Islands protected by the Ottoman Empire. Pavel tried three times to organize a peace conference in Europe to no avail. After Napoleon took Malta in June 1798, Pavel was elected Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. Napoleon took over Malta and invaded Egypt, and Pavel reacted by allying with the Turks.
      In 1799 Russians fought against the French in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and northern Italy where General Suvorov with 18,000 Russians and 44,000 Austrians won battles at Cassano d’Adda in April, at Marengo in May, at Trebbia and Turin in June, and Novi in August, capturing 25 fortresses and taking 80,000 prisoners. In late September 1799 an Austro-Russian army led by Aleksandr Korsakov suffered heavy losses at Zürich. The Austrians retreated from Switzerland; but Suvorov managed to withdraw his army across the French-occupied Swiss Alps. Suvorov died at the age of 70 in November 1800. He is considered Russia’s greatest military leader; he used speed and had great camaraderie with his soldiers. Pavel in late October wrote to Emperor Franz II that he was abandoning Austrian interests. A campaign by the British and Russians in Holland in September was a failure. When the British occupied Malta in October, Pavel revived the policy of armed neutrality, and he allied with Sweden and Denmark against Britain. In 1800 Russia joined the French against the British. Pavel expelled Louis XVIII from the Baltic city of Mitau in February. After the French defeated the Austrians in June 1800, Pavel ended the alliance with the French. He decreed the annexation of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti in December. In January 1801 Pavel sent 20,000 Cossacks from the Don to invade India, but after his death Emperor Aleksandr quickly ordered them recalled.
      By the fall of 1797 there were rumors of conspiracies against Pavel. His former tutor’s nephew, Count Nikita Petrovich Panin, became Vice Chancellor in October 1799, and he believed that Pavel should be removed for the welfare of Russia. Panin and Admiral Joseph Ribas found active support in the ambitious Count Petr Pahlen who resented having been dismissed by Pavel from governorships twice. These men met at the home of the beautiful Madame Olga Zherebtsova, sister of Platon Zubov. In November 1800 Pavel exiled Panin to a distant estate. Pavel’s general amnesty that month induced the Zubov brothers to join the conspiracy. In January 1801 the Emperor banished Count Rostopchin, and that gave Pahlen, who commanded the military at St. Petersburg, more control over security. By February their plot included over fifty people including leading generals and statesmen. On the night of 23 March two groups went in the cold to the Mikhailovskii Castle where one group put Pavel under arrest in his bedroom. One man hit him with a heavy snuffbox, and another strangled the Emperor with a scarf, or strong Nikolai Zubov may have killed him with his fists. Pahlen woke up Alexander, who at first declined the throne; but Pahlen persuaded him that millions of people depended upon him.

Russia under Aleksandr 1801-14

      Russia’s Emperor Aleksandr I was born on 23 December 1777, and his main tutors were the Swiss politician Frédéric-César de La Harpe, who came to Russia in 1783 and taught him liberal principles, and the military governor Nikolay Saltykov. In October 1793 Aleksandr married Louise of Baden who changed her name to Elizaveta Alexeievna. He became Emperor of Russia on 24 March 1801.
      Aleksandr granted amnesty to 12,000 men who had been dismissed by Emperor Pavel and restored their positions. He recalled Count N. P. Panin to the College of Foreign Affairs for a while, and the regicide Count von Pahlen retired on 10 June. Aleksandr ended travel restrictions and relaxed censorships, allowing in foreign publications. He abolished the secret police and torture in investigations. On 2 April he revived the 1785 charter to the nobility of Ekaterina II, and three days later he formed a Permanent Council for foreign affairs and trade, the military, civil and religious relations, and the state economy. He intended to increase the power of the senate, but it remained primarily a judicial body.
      Aleksandr formed an Unofficial Committee for his friends: the Polish Prince Adam Czartoryski, Count Pavel Stroganov, Count Victor Kochubey, and Nikolay Novosiltsev, and they met almost daily until 1803. Czartoryski became Deputy to Minister of Foreign Affairs Kochubey who was also Minister of the Interior until 1812. Stroganov and Novosiltsev worked on a new constitution. The reactionary G. R. Derzhavin was Minister of Justice. The other five ministries organized in 1802 were for the army, the navy, finance, commerce, and education.
      In 1802 Nikolay Karamzin (1766-1826) began publishing the influential Vestnik Evropy (Messenger of Europe), and he also wrote a 12-volume History of the Russian State. In 1803 Admiral A. S. Shishkov published his Reflections on the Old and New Formation of the Russian Language which aimed at binding Orthodox Slavs to Russia. Sergey Glinka wrote poetry and histories, and he founded the Russian Messenger in 1808.
      In November 1802 Aleksandr set up a Committee for the Amelioration of the Jews. The Jews’ councils (Kahals) they consulted asked them to postpone excluding Jews from owning land or selling liquor. The Russian government refused to do so and issued a Jewish Constitution in December 1804. Jewish children could attend public schools and universities, but their own schools had to teach either Russian, Polish, or German. Kahals were responsible for collecting state taxes. After Aleksandr learned that Napoleon was planning a Sanhedrin of rabbis in Paris in February 1807 to give Jews equal rights, the Tsar canceled his plan to ban Jews from leasing land or saloons.
      Tsar Aleksandr founded universities in 1803 at Vilnius using Polish and at Dorpat using German. Russian universities were established in 1804 at Kharkov and Kazan. Moscow University was reformed in November with four faculties teaching political and moral sciences, mathematics and physics, medicine, and literature. Russia added 42 secondary schools, and the number of students in primary and secondary schools rose from 21,533 in 1801 to 69,629 in 1825. In 1804 the Free Cultivators Law allowed landowners to emancipate their serfs, though only 47,153 serfs were liberated during Alexander’s reign. Prince A. N. Golitsyn freed 13,371 himself and was compensated with 5,424,618 rubles.
      Vladislas Ozerov wrote five historical dramas in the style of Racine that pleased Tsar Alexander. They were The Death of Oleg in 1798, Oedipus in Athens in 1804, Fingal in 1805, Dmitri Donskoy in 1807, and Polyxenes in 1809.
      Aleksandr proclaimed neutrality, and on 17 June 1801 Russia and Britain agreed on a convention on the relations of warships and trade which was joined later by Denmark and Sweden. Russian negotiations led to a peace treaty with France at Paris on 8 October. They recognized the Kingdom of Naples as neutral and agreed to cooperate on German relations. In June 1802 Aleksandr visited Prussia’s King Friedrich Wilhelm III at Memel. The Tsar agreed to protect the Order of Malta but declined to be its grand master. When Britain and France came into conflict over Malta, Napoleon asked Aleksandr to mediate; but his proposals in July 1803 were not accepted. Napoleon insulted the Russian ambassador on 25 September, and Aleksandr recalled him. On 5 April 1804 the Permanent Council agreed to break diplomatic relations with France. Russia, Austria, Sweden, and Turkey refused to recognize Napoleon as the Emperor he claimed to be on 18 May. Aleksandr favored a European federation and wrote,

It is not a dream of perpetual peace that is being realized,
but rather this can be approached
with more correspondence to the results it augurs,
if in the treaty that would terminate the general war
we would manage to fix (based on clear and precise principles)
some prescriptions for the rights of people.
Why not include the positive rights of nations,
ensure the privilege of neutrality,
and insert the obligation to never begin a war
unless mediation by a third party has been exhausted,
in a way we could highlight respective complaints
and try to resolve them?
It is on similar principles that one might proceed
to general peace and give birth to a league whose stipulations
would form, so to speak, a new code of law among peoples,
which when sanctioned by the majority of the states of Europe
would painlessly become the immutable rule of governments,
particularly since those who wanted to infringe that code
would bring down on themselves the forces of the new union.1

      Aleksandr wanted to control the eastern Caucasus, and in 1802 his General Pavel Tsitsianov persuaded Mingrelia’s ruler to join the Russian Empire. In November 1803 Russian forces led by the Georgian Tsitsianov besieged Ganja’s citadel which surrendered in January 1804. The Russians executed about 3,000 men, and Tsitsianov renamed the city Elizavetapol, though Azerbaijanis still called it Ganja. This massacre provoked the Russo-Persian War which lasted until 1813. In February 1806 Tsitsianov approached the walls of Baku in a negotiation and was shot dead. During the Russo-Turkish War (1806-12) the Persians allied with France against Russia and Britain from May 1807 to 1809. After Tsitsianov and Ivan Gudovich attacked Armenia’s holy city of Echmiadzin, the Persians declared a holy war against Russian imperialism in 1810; but they could not overcome Russia’s advanced military weapons and strategy. The Russians led by Pyotr Kotlyarevsky defeated the Persians at Aslanduz in October 1812, and in early 1813 they captured Lankaran. Russians and Persians made a peace treaty mediated by British diplomat Gore Ouseley on 24 October in the village of Gulistan. The Persians recognized Russia’s claim to Daghestan, eastern Georgia, most of Azerbaijan, and some of northern Armenia. They agreed on free trade, and Persians also accepted Russia’s claim to military control of the Caspian Sea.
      Russia allied with Austria on 6 November 1804 and with Sweden in January 1805. On 11 April Russia allied with Britain and agreed to provide the continental allies with 400,000 soldiers while the British promised to provide a subsidy of £1,250,000 annually for every 100,000 men. On 4 June in Vienna the Allies agreed to mobilize about 620,000 soldiers with Russia providing 180,000, and the Austrian ambassador to St. Petersburg signed the treaty of alliance on 9 August. Aleksandr met with Friedrich Wilhelm at Potsdam, and on 3 November the Prussians joined the Third Coalition against France. Ten days later Napoleon entered Vienna, and his French army defeated the Allies at Austerlitz on 2 December. The Russian army of 90,000 suffered 26,000 casualties and lost their artillery. Marshal Kutuzov led the Tsar’s army back to Russia. Also in November the Russian forces in Naples had retreated to the Ionian Islands.
      Czartoryski opposed allying with Prussia and was dismissed on 8 July 1806. Five days later Russia and Prussia agreed to a secret military alliance. On the 20th the Russian envoy Baron d’Oubril signed a treaty with France that favored Russia and German states but ignored the interests of Britain and their Mediterranean allies. Stroganov was ashamed of the treaty, and Aleksandr refused to ratify it. On 8 February 1807 the Russians lost 26,000 men in the battle against the French at Eylau in East Prussia. On 26 April at Memel the Convention of Bartenstein recognized the friendship of Russia and Prussia. Russia promised 120,000 men and 486 cannons, but Prussia offered only 14,000 soldiers and 92 guns.
      The Turks were concerned about Russian troops at Cattaro and those making contacts with Montenegrins and insurgent Serbs. On 18 August 1806 the Ottoman Sultan Selim III replaced the rulers of Moldavia and Wallachia with men sympathetic to the French, and the Russians insisted they revoke the decree which they did on 17 October; but the day before that the Russians crossed the Dniester. By 24 December the Russians were in Bucharest, and three days later the Turks declared war. The British were concerned about this and came into conflict with Russians who believed their ally was not contributing enough. In February 1807 British Admiral Duckworth anchored by Istanbul, making Russians angry. On 14 June at Friedland about 80,000 French troops overwhelmed about 55,000 Russians who suffered 12,000 casualties and had nearly 10,000 soldiers captured. Tsar Aleksandr asked for peace, and Napoleon agreed to talk. They met on a raft on the Niemen River at Tilsit on 25 June. On 7 July they agreed to an alliance and divided half of Prussia’s territory between them, and Russia ceded the Ionian Islands to France.
      On 7 November Russia broke off relations with Britain. Denmark allied with Russia and France, but Sweden refused. Napoleon told his ambassador Caulaincourt to urge Aleksandr to go to war against Sweden, and he promised to support Russia’s annexation of Finland. In February 1808 a Russian army invaded Finland, and in March they took the fortress at Svartholm and conquered the Hanko Peninsula. Aleksandr called for elections in June and invited Finnish deputies to come to St. Petersburg. Russian and Swedish forces fought many small battles. Aleksandr spoke to the elected Finnish Diet at Provoo (Borgå) on 27 March 1809, and two days later the four estates swore allegiance to him as Grand Prince of Finland provided that he maintain their constitution which he later accepted. In August the Russians won at Savar while the Swedes were victorious at Ratan. Finally the two sides agreed to end the Finnish War with a peace treaty at Fredrikshamn on 17 September. Sweden ceded much territory, and the Grand Duchy of Finland became part of the Russian Empire.
      Emperor Aleksandr asked his advisor Mikhail Speranskii to accompany him to the meeting with Emperor Napoleon at Erfurt from 27 September 1808 to October 14. The French diplomat Talleyrand secretly persuaded Aleksandr to resist Napoleon’s demands. In the Convention of Erfurt the two emperors asked the British to stop their war against France. The French recognized Russia’s taking Finland from Sweden, and Aleksandr promised that Russia would aid France in a war against Austria which began six months later.
      Speranskii angered aristocrats with the decree in April 1809 that cancelled the right of those with court titles to skip the lower grades of the administration and by another in August that required study at a university or passing a written examination to obtain higher positions. Aleksandr directed Speranskii to draft a constitution. Speranskii recognized Russia’s three classes of gentry, the middle class of merchants, artisans, and farmers, and the workers that included serfs, servants, and apprentices. The working class did not have political rights that were based on a property qualification. Russia was to be organized into four administrative levels of towns (volost), districts, provinces, and the nation or empire. Town assemblies elected district assemblymen who elected the members of the provincial assembly, and they then elected those in the state Duma. Judges would be popularly elected. Yet Aleksandr rejected the plan, and this self-government would not come to the districts and provinces until 1864. The national legislature (Duma) did not form until 1905-06, and volost self-government came about in 1917. Speranskii was called a Francophile and fell from power by 1812. Aleksandr initiated a Council of State in January 1810, and Speranskii introduced a civil service examination to improve administration. Russians blamed Speranskii for the economic decline, and in March 1812 Aleksandr banished him to Viatka.
      Novosiltsev proposed a Constitutional Charter of the Russian Empire that would divide the Russian Empire into twelve large groups of provinces with some autonomy, and Aleksandr would implement some of this in 1820; but it was abandoned after Aleksandr died in 1825.
      A Russian decree on the last day of 1810 imposed heavy tariffs on luxuries imported by land, and this irritated Napoleon who had been urging Russia to close its ports to neutral ships that imported British goods. On 22 January 1811 Napoleon annexed the Oldenburg Duchy whose heir Prince George was married to Alexander’s sister Ekaterina. One year later Napoleon ordered Marshal Davout to occupy Swedish Pomerania. France allied with Prussia in February 1812 and with Austria in March. Russia allied with Sweden in April. The Russian and Ottoman Empires ended their war when Kutuzov signed the treaty of Bucharest on 28 May 1812, and Aleksandr ratified it on 5 July. The Turks ceded the eastern half of Moldavia (Bessarabia) to Russia, and the Russians gained trading rights on the Danube River. Rebelling Serbs also signed the treaty, and Serbia’s autonomy was recognized.
      Napoleon’s Grand Army of about 600,000 men included nearly 200,000 Germans and 100,000 Poles, and they had 180,000 horses and more than 1,100 cannons. After about 450,000 crossed the Nieman River to invade the Russian Empire on the night of 23 June, Russia signed a peace treaty with Britain. Russia had an army of 488,000 with two forces of 90,000 led by Prince Barclay de Tolly and 60,000 commanded by Prince Peter Bagraton. Aleksandr vowed that he would not lay down arms as long as one enemy soldier was in his domains; but he was persuaded to leave the army and raise morale from Moscow. Napoleon occupied Vilnius on the 28th, the day the Polish Seym proclaimed their reunion with Lithuania. On 6 July Aleksandr ordered the recruitment and mobilization of militia, and this would increase the Russian army to more than 900,000 men. He met with Sweden’s ruler Bernadotte at Åbo in Finland in August and affirmed their friendship. Barclay and Bagraton retreated and planned to unite. Barclay sent 25,000 men to the Dvina River to protect St. Petersburg. Davout’s French army forced Bagraton to move south and then occupied Minsk. The two Russian armies came together at Smolensk. Napoleon admitted later that he declined to offer the serfs liberation or stir up the peasants, but he did set up a provisional government in Lithuania.
      At Smolensk on 16-18 August the French defeated the Russians; but both sides suffered at least 10,000 casualties, and 14,000 civilians were killed or missing. Alexander’s committee appointed Marshal Kutuzov commander, and both sides claimed victory at Polotsk on 18 August. The main armies met near Borodino on 5 September. The Russians lost 42,000 killed or wounded out of 112,000 fighting, and the French army lost 28,000; but the French had twice as many officers and generals killed. Aleksandr still refused to negotiate as long as any invading soldiers were on Russian soil. On the 13th Kutuzov and his council decided that it would be better to give up Moscow than to risk the army in its defense. The city was abandoned, and Napoleon arrived with his army on 14 September. That night a fire broke out and was being contained, but the next day a worse fire destroyed three-quarters of the mostly wooden city. Moscow’s Governor-general Rostopchin may or may not have ordered the fire; but he did remove fire-fighting equipment when he evacuated the city.
      Napoleon’s offers to negotiate were ignored by Alexander. Kutuzov and his army had camped south of Moscow and kept the French army away from the southern sources of supply. On 18 October his army attacked Murat’s forces, and the next day Napoleon led his army out of Moscow. The Russian army fought them at Maloyaroslavets on the 24th. The French outnumbered them and suffered fewer casualties, but Napoleon decided not to go south but to retreat west toward Smolensk. His strung-out army was harassed by Cossacks and other guerrilla attacks. Napoleon’s army had only 42,000 men left when they reached Smolensk on 8 November in an early and especially cold winter. In the middle of November for five days the Russians attacked the French six times, and the casualties and desertions reduced the French army to 20,000 who could fight. The united Russian army had 70,000 men led by Chichagov that followed the retreating Austrian army under Schwarzenberg. Only about 110,000 men made it back to France and their allies.
      Alexander’s Russian army continued the war against Napoleon’s France, and Austria changed sides to join with Russia, Sweden, and Britain. Prussian towns were accepting the Russians as liberators, and on 30 December the Prussian General Yorck assured the Russian General Diebitsch in the Tauroggen Convention armistice that his forces would be neutral. Aleksandr appointed Baron vom Stein to administer liberated East and West Prussia. On 28 February 1813 Russia and Prussia formed an alliance at Kalisz with Russia providing 150,000 troops. Prussia had 80,000 men, and Friedrich Wilhelm declared war against France on 13 March. The Russian commander Kutuzov died on 27 April and was replaced by General Pyotr Vitgenshtein (Wittgenstein). His allied army on 2 May at Lutzen attacked Napoleon’s army of French and Poles who caused the Allies to retreat, though the French army lost twice as many men. At Bautzen on 20-21 May the Allies retreated again and lost 12,000 men while the French lost more than 20,000. Austrians proposed an armistice for two months, and both sides accepted on 4 June and built up their armies. Ten days later the British made a treaty with Prussia and Russia promising a subsidy of £2,000,000 with Russia getting two-thirds. On the 24th Metternich accepted Alexander’s and Friedrich Wilhelm’s conditions for peace with France.
      By August 1813 the Allies had an army of 484,000 men against Napoleon’s 280,000. Yet his army of 135,000 men defeated 214,000 Allies at Dresden on 26-27 August, and the Allies lost 38,000 men; but three days later the Allied army beat a French army led by Vandamme and captured him and about 10,000 men at Kulm. Russia, Prussia, and Austria in the treaty at Töplitz on 9 September each promised to field 150,000 troops and to refuse a separate peace. In the decisive Battle of Nations at Leipzig the Coalition defeated the French on October 16-19, capturing 20,000 men from the French army; Russia lost 22,000 men. Aleksandr refused to make peace and insisted on marching to France, and the Allied armies crossed the Rhine in the last eleven days of 1813. The Allies reached Paris on 25 March 1814. The French agreed to an armistice, and on the 31st Tsar Aleksandr led the Coalition into the city. He persuaded Louis XVIII to grant a charter to the French people in the peace agreement on 30 May. Also in 1814 the Imperial Public Library opened in St. Petersburg.

Russia of Aleksandr & Nikolay 1815-30

      Tsar Aleksandr I appointed his brother Konstantin head of the Polish Military Commission in Warsaw. Conflict between Russia and Prussia over Poland and Saxony caused Britain and Austria to form an alliance with monarchical France on 3 January 1815, but the two sides found a compromise in February. Napoleon abdicated but came back in March 1815. The Allies defeated him in June at Waterloo before the Russian army could arrive.
      Aleksandr negotiated at the Congress of Vienna and managed to retain most of his kingdom of Poland. Prussia got northwest Poland but only three-fifths of Saxony. Aleksandr allowed the new Poland to have a liberal constitution. Having prayed and read the Bible during the 1812 war, Aleksandr became more religious and mystical. He suggested the Holy Alliance that was formed by Russia, Austria, and Prussia on 26 September 1815, though it had no definite procedures for keeping the peace. Aleksandr proposed an international army to guarantee peaceful settlement of European conflicts and disarmament, but the others rejected these ideas. The British made it a Quadruple Alliance on 20 November. That month Aleksandr went to Warsaw, and on the 27th he approved a government based on a constitution drafted by Czartoryski. The Kingdom of Poland had an army of 35,000 men commanded by Grand Duke Konstantin, and in July 1817 he decreed that Lithuania could have an army. On 27 March 1818 Aleksandr opened the Seym in Warsaw.
      Tsar Aleksandr appointed Alexei Arakcheyev to be Saltykov’s deputy on 24 December 1815, and for the next ten years he would act as a prime minister for internal affairs. O. P. Kozodavlev was Minister of the Interior from 1811 to 1819, and he worked on improving industry and agriculture and replaced the dissolved Ministry of Commerce. In 1818 and 1819 Russia imported livestock from Holland and England to breed better animals. The Ministry of Police was responsible for public health as well as for security. In 1819 the Interior and Police ministries were combined under Prince Kochubey. Speranskii became governor of Penza in August 1816 and then governor-general of Siberia in March 1819, and he reformed that government in 1822 dividing western and eastern Siberia into two provinces each.
      At the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) in 1818 the Allies were joined by France and agreed on 15 November to withdraw their troops from France while maintaining their “ties of Christian brotherhood.” Aleksandr proposed a league of monarchs to guarantee their nations’ borders and political systems, but Metternich and Castlereagh opposed that. At Troppau and Laibach in October-November 1820 these powerful nations were concerned about possible revolutions and agreed to guarantee their “legal order.” A mutiny in the Semyonovsky Regiment in St. Petersburg that October persuaded Aleksandr to go along with Metternich. They affirmed their principles of the Concert of Nations again at the Laibach conference that met from 26 January to 12 May 1821. Aleksandr met with Austria’s Metternich at Vienna in September 1822, and they decided how to handle the Greek war for independence from the Turks.
       Aleksandr freed the serfs in the Baltic provinces of Estland in 1811, Estonia in 1816, Kurland in 1817, and Livonia in 1819; but their economic condition became worse. Minister of War Arakcheyev carried out the Tsar’s orders severely. They organized military settlements that combined military service with farming to reduce the cost of supporting the army, and they were implemented from 1816 to 1821. Those who revolted received harsh punishment. Arakcheyev suppressed a mutiny in the Chuguyev colony in the Ukraine by executing soldiers in August 1819. That year the Russian army in the Caucasus was increased to 50,000 troops. Their commander General Yermolov annexed Shirvan in August 1820 and Karabagh in 1822, and he defeated the aggressive Avars and Chechens, punishing them by burning villages and massacring civilians.
      Aleksandr had founded the Russian Bible Society in December 1812 and made his favorite Prince Aleksandr Golitsyn its president. The Tsar donated 25,000 rubles and an annual subsidy of 10,000 rubles. He especially liked the Gospels and writing by Böhme, Swedenborg, Augustine, Malebranche, Fénelon, François de Sales, Teresa of Avila, and Thomas à Kempis. In 1816 the Ministry of Education became the Ministry of Spiritual Affairs and Education with Golitsyn as the minister. The spiritual department had four sections for the Orthodox; for Roman Catholics, Uniates, and Armenians; for Protestants; and for Jews, Muslims, and others. He advocated greater use of Bibles in schools. Students were required to attend religious services, were urged to spy on each other, and were sternly disciplined. In June 1820 a special committee devised stricter censorship rules. Mikhail Magnitsky became the curator of education for Kazan in 1820, and he and Dmitrii Runich, who became curator in St. Petersburg in 1821, purged universities of free thinkers. The University of Kazan was a center for Oriental studies and taught Arabic and Persian literature, but lecturers were not allowed to describe Islamic ideas and customs. In 1821 Aleksandr was worried about revolutionary liberals, radical levelers, and the carbonari.
      The Union of Salvation desired constitutional government and freeing serfs and was the first secret society in Russia in February 1816, and one year later they produced a constitution called the Union of Welfare with statutes in the Green Book. In the north Nikita Muravyov wrote a constitution modeled on the United States Constitution. In the south Pavel Pestel’s more radical Russian Justice (Russkaya Pravda) abolished class institutions, noble privileges, and he warned that excessive wealth is worse than feudal aristocracy. He suggested that every Russian should be assured of life’s necessities. He opposed trade restrictions and favored private enterprise. However, Pestel opposed federalism and wanted the Russian government to dominate other nationalities. The Southern Society formed the Society of United Slavs and contacted Polish revolutionaries. In August 1822 Aleksandr banned secret societies including Masonic lodges, though members were not to be persecuted. Golitsyn lost influence with the Tsar in 1823 and resigned in May 1824.
      From 1801 to 1805 Russia had exported 174,558 tons of wheat, but this fell to 29,000 tons from 1806 to 1810. The wheat exports recovered to 83,000 in the next five years and then rose sharply to 283,000 tons from 1816 to 1820. Russia’s national deficit was 7,064,799 rubles in 1801, but by 1822 it had exploded to 351,244,048 rubles. At the end of Aleksandr’s reign in 1825 Russia’s foreign debt was up to 106 million rubles, and the empire was nearly bankrupt.
      In May 1823 a new Committee for the Amelioration of the Jews was formed, and in an attempt to reduce smuggling they prohibited Jews from living near the frontier. Russia had settlements on the northwest coast of North America, and on 17 April 1824 Russia made a treaty with the United States recognizing their claim to territory north of 54° 40′ latitude. Emperor Aleksandr died on 19 November (OS) 1825 without a legitimate son, and his August 1823 manifesto that he be succeeded by his brother Nikolay instead of the older brother Konstantin had not been published. Konstantin had secretly renounced the throne when he married in July 1820 the Polish Countess Joanna Grudzińska who could not reign with him. Konstantin affirmed this in a letter to Aleksandr on 26 January 1822.
      At first Nikolay took the oath of allegiance to Konstantin and ordered it administered in the empire, but Konstanin refused the throne and stayed in Warsaw. Informers reported on the resistance of the southern society, and Pestel was arrested on 13 December (OS). The next day the northern society tried to win over officers and soldiers, and by noon 3,000 troops favored revolution. That day Nikolay agreed to be Tsar and ordered a cannon to fire on the soldiers in the square, killing sixty or more as others fled. Nikolay appointed a commission to question suspected conspirators, and they examined 600 people. They tried 121; 31 were sentenced to hard labor in Siberia for life, and 85 received shorter sentences. Some wives joined the men in Siberia. Pestel and four other Decembrists were hanged on 25 July 1826.
      Tsar Nikolay I was born on 6 July 1796. His chief tutor was the harsh disciplinarian, General Lamsdorff. Although Nikolay learned several languages, he had little interest in the liberal arts. He liked military drill, and he worked as an engineer. He charmed the ladies, married the Prussian Princess Charlotte in 1817, and by 1832 they had four sons and three daughters. He also had at least three children by other women. Nikolay believed in his own autocratic rule and did not trust aristocrats. He was skeptical of change and followed his older brother’s policies, and he swore to uphold the Polish constitution. In 1826 a Second Department worked on codifying laws, and in July the Third Department was formed to support the gendarmes by collecting information on police, political security, religious sects, and fraudulent money and documents. They could imprison state criminals and banish them to remote provinces. In 1828 a fourth Department was formed to manage educational and charitable organizations.
      In December 1826 Nikolay appointed a secret committee with Kochubey as chairman and Prince I. V. Vasilchikov, Prince A. N. Golitsyn, Count P. A. Tolstoy, General Diebitsch, and Speranskii. They would meet occasionally in the next five years. Nikolay rejected a plan to form a Conference of Ministers outside the Senate to coordinate the ministries in 1827, and that year a report found that officials were the most corrupt part of society. The secret committee governed while Nikolay was off fighting the Turkish War in 1828. That year Count Lieven became Minister of Education, and in December the Tsar approved the Statute of Primary and Secondary Schools. An 1829 report held that the gendarmerie were the people’s best protection.
      In 1825 Russia claimed the region of Gokcha; but this was denied by the Persian Fath-Ali Shah Qajar. Without the Tsar’s approval in May 1826 Russian troops occupied Mirak in Armenia. The British had offered to help Persia regain territory in Georgia and Azerbaijan lost to Russia, and a Persian army crossed the border in June. Nikolay replaced General Yermolov in April 1827 with Ivan Paskevich who arrived in June. The Russians invaded Persian territory and captured Erivan in October, and a few weeks later they occupied Tabriz, Persia’s second largest city and main center of trade. On 20 October the Russian fleet with British and French squadrons destroyed the Egyptian fleet at Navarino. In the peace treaty they signed in February 1828 at Turkmenchay in which Persia ceded its Erivan Khanate (in central Armenia) and most of Azerbaijan and promised to pay Russia gold worth 20 million silver rubles. Persia also gave up the right to navigate in the Caspian Sea, and they recognized Russians’ rights in Persia. Prisoners were exchanged, and Persia apologized for violating the Gulistan Treaty. Persians were so upset by the results of the treaty that on 11 February 1829 they stormed the Russian embassy in Tehran, slaughtering the ambassador Aleksandr Griboyedov, the playwright Griboyedov, and others.
      During the Greek war for independence from the Ottoman Empire in March 1826 Tsar Nikolay demanded that Turkish troops leave Romania and recognize the autonomy of Serbia. On 6 April at St. Petersburg the Russians signed a protocol with the British to mediate the conflict between Sultan Mahmud II and the Greeks. Metternich refused to support this, but the French agreed. Mahmud had the Janissaries exterminated in June. Negotiations led to the Convention of Akkerman signed on 7 October. Serbia was given autonomy, and Serbs were granted freedom of movement in the Ottoman Empire. Hospodars were to be elected in Moldavia and Wallachia, and Turkish forces withdrew from these Danubian principalities.
      On 6 July 1827 Russia, France, and Britain agreed to a treaty in London to propose an armistice in the Greco-Turkish War with Greek self-government under Turkish rule. They secretly agreed to allow only one month for the Sultan to agree before they would intervene militarily. On 26 April 1828 Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, and General Vitgenshtein led a Russian army that occupied Moldavia and eastern Wallachia. In June the Tsar led Russian forces across the Danube River, and they captured Dobruja in July. Then the Russian army spent months besieging Varna, Shumen, and Silistria. The took Varna in October and left a garrison there and in Dobruja when they withdrew north of the Danube in November. The Russian navy had captured the Black Sea port of Anapa in June, enabling Paskevich to lead an army into Asia Minor in July and took the city of Akhaltsikhe in August. They left a garrison there and in Kars when they moved into winter quarters in Georgia. General Diebitsch was put in command in February 1829, and the Russians captured Silistria in June and the port of Burgas in July. The city of Adrianople surrendered in August, and peace was made in September. Russia’s southern border was extended to include the Danube delta. In the London Protocol on 3 February 1830 Britain, France, and Russia guaranteed the independence of Greece.

Greek War of Independence

      In 1789 the Greeks Kiris, Laztois, and Pangalos took a memorial to St. Petersburg saying that the Greeks were ready to rise against the Turks. During the Russo-Turkish War in February 1790 Rumeliot Lambros Katsonis used an American cruiser purchased by Greeks and a pirate fleet to fight the Turks between Andros and Kafirea, and they killed more than 3,000 Turks and Algerians but lost five ships. He gathered another fleet by 1792 when peace was made. The Greek newspaper Ephemeris was published in Vienna from 1790 until 1797. Scientific and philosophical works were also printed. By 1800 an academy with modern teaching had been started at Kydonies, and a patriarchal academy was founded in Istanbul in 1803.
      Rigas Feraios became a secretary to revolutionaries and Alexander Ypsilantis in Istanbul and later edited the Efimeris. In October 1797 about 3,000 copies of his revolutionary manifesto were published that included a declaration of rights, a martial hymn for liberty, and a new constitution for Greece. In December the Austrian police discovered them and arrested him with 17 others. Rigas was among the eight Turks who were killed on 24 June 1798.
      On 18 April 1797 Napoleon’s France obtained the Ionian Islands in the treaty of Leoben, but in 1799 an Ottoman-Russian force drove out the French, and the Russians and Greeks agreed to create the independent Septinsular Republic. In 1800 Stamatis informed Napoleon’s Foreign Minister Talleyrand that the Greeks of Epiros and the Morea had formed a revolutionary society. Young Count Ioannis (John) Kapodistrias was a leading councilor for the Septinsular Republic in the Ionian Islands from 1800 to 1807 with Italian and Greek as the main languages.
      Tepedelenli Ali Pasha was an Albanian Muslim and a leader of bandits who became governor of Ioannina (Yanina), and the poet Byron met him there in 1809. His court used Greek, and he influenced the Greek enlightenment. Ali allied with the British who urged him to fight the French. A British force occupied Zante in October 1809. Greek bandits wanted to get rid of Ali and fight for independence.
      In September 1813 Frederick North founded the Society of the Muses’ Friends (Philomuses Etaireia) in Athens, and Kapodistrias also started Philomuses in Vienna. By 1813 the Greeks had more than 60 large ships. In 1814 the Friendly Society (Philiki Etaireia) was begun in Odessa, and in 1818 this Etaireia moved their headquarters to Istanbul and enrolled hundreds of Greek merchants and intellectuals. In 1814 British forces occupied the Ionian Islands, but in November 1815 the Congress of Vienna granted the islands independence under the Great Powers as the United States of the Ionian Islands. Tsar Alexander allowed his Foreign Minister Kapodistrias to govern the Ionian Islands.
      Serbs were also struggling for freedom from 1804 and achieved some independence in 1815.
      In July 1820 Sultan Mahmud II ordered Ali Pasha to come to Istanbul; but he resisted, and the Turks besieged Ioannina in September. In the spring the Russian officer Alexandros Ipsilantis had become the commander of the Philiki Etaireia, and on 8 October he sent out proclamations to Greeks. Georgakis Olimpios brought wealthy Vladimirescu into the Etaireia and gained funds in January 1821.
      On 5 January the Peloponnese governor Hurşid Ahmed Pasha led a force north to fight against Ali Pasha. After Prince Alexandros Soutzos of Wallachia died on the 31st, Vladimirescu proclaimed a rebellion there against Greek Phanariots and Romanian Boyars. Ipsilantis led an invasion of the Ottoman Empire on 6 March, and he got the support of Hospodar Michalis Soutzos in Moldavia’s capital Jassy. His brother Nikolay Ipsilantis came from Russia with 800 infantry, and 1,200 came from Odessa’s disbanded Greek militia. On 17 March the Tsar Aleksandr denounced the revolt and proclaimed Vladimirescu a bandit. The Serbian leader Miloš Obrenović also repudiated the uprising. Michalis Soutzos changed his mind and fled to Russia. The Tsar permitted the Ottoman army to enter Moldavia and Wallachia, and they regained Bucharest and other cities. When Vladimirescu tried to negotiate with the Sultan, Ipsilantis had him killed. Many were rebelling against the heavy war tax of 1820, and after five years of bad harvests taxes on Christian peasants more than doubled in 1821.
      On 23 March 1821 (OS) the commander of Spartan and Messenian forces, Alexandros Mavrogordatos, who knew several languages, issued a Manifesto complaining that the intolerable yoke of Ottoman tyranny has oppressed them for more than a century, depriving them of rights, and so they have resolved to take up arms against the tyrants. They asked for the aid of all civilized Europeans to regain their rights and regenerate their people. Greece has illuminated them and asks for their philanthropy with arms, money, and counsel. This was translated into several European languages and sent to the governments.
      Petrobey Mavromichalis led the Maniots in Laconia, and he began the fight for independence in March 1821 taking the city of Kalamata where he convened a congress to draft a constitution. In 1822 he let his sons lead the troops and became a revolutionary leader in the Messenian Senate. Greeks also adopted constitutions in the northern Peloponessos, western Greece, and eastern Greece.
      Rebellion spread in the Peloponnesos, and armed peasants attacked wealthy estates. Muslims and Jews fled or were killed, and Ottoman garrisons were besieged. In April the Greeks took over most of the Morea. Their war-cry was “Freedom in the name of Christ!” The insurrection spread in western Greece, to the north, and to Aegean islands. However, Ottoman armies soon suppressed the revolt in Thessaly and Macedonia, and an Egyptian fleet sent by Muhammad ‘Ali defeated the rebels on Crete and Cyprus. In central Greece the insurgents prevailed and set up a government. The Ottoman Empire ordered Muslims to arm themselves. Although the Orthodox Patriarch Gregory V excommunicated the rebels, he was executed on Easter Sunday 1821 for having helped Phanariots to escape to Russia. During the summer Mahmud II reached an agreement with Russia, and the Ottoman government stopped persecuting all Christians and targeted only rebelling Greeks. In 1821 Shelley in a preface to his poem Hellas, wrote:

This is the age of the war of the oppressed
against the oppressors, and every one of those ringleaders
of the privileged gangs of murderers and swindlers,
called Sovereigns, look to each other for aid
against the common enemy, and suspend
their mutual jealousies in the presence of a mightier fear.
Of this holy alliance all the despots of the earth
are virtual members.
But a new race has arisen throughout Europe,
nursed in the abhorrence of the opinions which are its chains,
and she will continue to produce fresh generations
to accomplish that destiny which tyrants foresee and dread.

      In December 1821 a Greek National Congress convened at Epidauros, and after several weeks they agreed on a document based on the French Constitution of 1795. The democratic republic was to be an Orthodox-Christian state that tolerated all religions. The Senate was a legislature that elected five senators as the executive council that would appoint eight ministers.
      After the Ottoman army defeated and killed Ali Pasha in January 1822, General Hurşid led them south; but he was accused of stealing Ali’s wealth and killed himself. He was replaced by Mahmud Dramali Pasha who led 12,000 infantry and 800 cavalry that drove the Greek rebels out of Corinth in July. Peasants burned their crops and moved into cities while Greek forces avoided a battle until they trapped the Turks at the Dervaki pass and wiped out all but 800 of Dramali’s army. Dramali escaped but took his own life. Greek merchants provided ships that fought the Ottoman fleet near Tenedos, and they brought supplies to the Greeks and relieved besieged rebels in Morea. Trade in the eastern Mediterranean was disrupted, affecting the British. A Turkish fleet took over Chios on 22 March and plundered the city, massacring about 52,000 mostly men and enslaving an equal number of mostly women.
      In April 1823 the Second National Congress amended the constitution and elected a new government with Petrobey as president and Koloktronis as vice president. The City of London loaned them £3 million in 1824 and some more in 1825. Many peasants went back to their farms and villages that no longer had Ottoman overlords. The Provisional Government also claimed the land abandoned by the Turks. Unpaid officers often went over to the Ottoman army. The poet Byron had been living in the Ionian Islands, and on 5 January 1824 he arrived in liberated Greece to support their independence. The British London Committee had begun in 1823 and the French Comité Grec in 1825. An American missionary organization also raised money. Many foreign soldiers volunteered to fight for Greek independence.
      Egypt’s Muhammad ‘Ali appointed his son Ibrahim Pasha to govern the Peloponnesos. He commanded an army of 14,000 men and a navy with 45 warships and 100 vessels for supplies. The armada landed in Messina in late February 1825 and captured the fortress of Neokastro and defeated the rebels at Old Navarino on 23 May. Egyptian forces destroyed villages and enslaved thousands of people. Koloktronis had been suspected of treason, but he was released to lead 10,000 men. The Greeks faced Turks in the north as well as Egyptians in the south. The Turks besieged the fortress at Missolonghi in late April. In December they were running out of supplies at Missolonghi, and Ibrahim captured Patras and crossed the Gulf of Corinth to unite with the Turks. On the night of 22 April the Greeks tried a desperate surge, but few survived. Thousands trapped in the central armory blew themselves up with the gunpowder. Thousands more were captured and enslaved while more than 2,000 had their heads displayed on Missolonghi’s walls. The Turks took over cities in Boeotia, and in August they besieged the Acropolis in Athens and captured it on 24 May 1827.
      The National Assembly met and appealed to Europe for aid. Greece was destitute. Men were killed, and women were raped and enslaved with their children, many for the rest of their lives. An Austrian emissary at Messenia managed to ransom thousands of women and children. The Duke of Wellington went to Russia, and they agreed on the Anglo-Russian Protocol on 4 April 1826 for an autonomous state within the Ottoman Empire similar to the Serb Principality if Mahmud II would remove his soldiers.
      At the Third National Assembly the Greeks elected Ioannis Kapodistrias their president on 11 April 1827. On 6 July the British, Russians, and French signed the treaty of London that called for an armistice and protection by these powers. The three nations mobilized an armada in the eastern Mediterranean, and on 20 October they trapped and devastated the larger Turkish-Egyptian fleet at Navarino Bay. They negotiated an agreement, and the Egyptian forces went home.
      On 20 December 1827 Sultan Mahmud II proclaimed Jihad against Russia, and the Russians declared war against the Ottoman Empire. Kapodistrias arrived in Greece on 8 January 1828, and the Greeks were assisted by a French force. In the spring of 1829 they fought well in central Greece, and on 8 May they took back the fortress at Missolonghi. Both sides suffered heavy losses in this war, and on 14 September 1829 they agreed to a treaty at Edirne (Adrianople) that accepted Greek and Serbian autonomy. On 3 February 1830 the British, French, and Russians agreed in the London Protocol to protect the independence and sovereignty of the Greek state.


1. A. Czaroryski, Mémoires et correspondence avec l’empereur Alexandre Ier, 2: 35 quoted in Alexander I: The Tsar Who Defeated Napoleon by Marie-Pierre Rey, p. 154.

Copyright © 2018 by Sanderson Beck

EUROPE & REVOLUTION 1789-1830 has been published as a book.
For ordering information, please click here.

France’s Revolution 1789-95
France & Napoleon’s Rise & Fall 1796-1815
France of Louis XVIII & Charles X 1814-30
Britain’s Reaction to France 1789-1799
Britain: War and Recovery 1800-30
Romantic Era of English Literature 1789-1830
Germans, Austria & Swiss 1789-1830
German Idealists and Romantics 1789-1830
Spain, Portugal and Italy 1789-1830
Netherlands and Scandinavia 1789-1830
Poland, Russia & Greek Revolution 1789-1830
Summary and Evaluating Europe 1789-1830


Chronology of Europe 1716-1830
World Chronology 1715-1815
World Chronology 1816-1830

BECK index