Russia, 1762-1825: Military Power, the State, and the People

Russia, 1762-1825: Military Power, the State, and the People

Russia, 1762-1825: Military Power, the State, and the People

Russia, 1762-1825: Military Power, the State, and the People

Synopsis

A study of the Russian Empire at the peak of its military power and success (1762-1825), this important book examines how a country with none of the obvious trappings of modernization was able to significantly expand its territory. Russia's military and naval victories culminated in the triumphal entrance of Russian forces into Paris in 1814 in celebration of the defeat of Napoleon. Hartley's treatment is wide-ranging and discusses many aspects of the nature of the Russian state and society-not merely issues such as recruitment, but also institutional, legal, and fiscal structures of the state, the unique nature of Russian industrialization and social organization at the urban and village level, as well as the impact on cultural life. She covers the reign of two of Russia's most prominent rulers: Catherine II (1762-1796) and Alexander I (1801-25).

Excerpt

Warfare was an almost constant feature of the reigns of Catherine II (1762–1796), Paul I (1796–1801), and Alexander I (1801–1825). Catherine came to the throne after Peter III had withdrawn from the Seven Years’ War (1756–1762), a policy decision that was perceived by many officers as “unpatriotic” and was one factor in his overthrow. Peace lasted six years until events in Poland led to the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774. The 13 years after this war were the longest stretch of peace in this period, although the conquest of the Crimea by Russian forces also took place at this time (completed in 1783). Russia was then involved in conflicts with the Ottoman Empire (1787–1792) and the Swedes (1788–1790). Russia did not participate in the first war against Revolutionary France, but was involved instead in the crushing of the Polish uprising led by Kościuszko (1794–1795). Russia participated in the War of the Second Coalition against France (1798–1801) during the reign of Paul. The seeming capriciousness of Paul’s foreign policy was in turn partly responsible for the coup against him and the subsequent accession of Alexander I in 1801. Alexander came to the throne with ambitious, and naϊve, plans for universal peace, but by 1805 Russia had joined the Third Coalition and then was almost continually at war until the conclusion of peace in 1815 (Third Coalition, 1805–1807; Russo-Turkish War, 1806–1812; Russo-Swedish War, 1808–1809; invasion of Russia, 1812; Fourth Coalition, 1813–1815). The strain of the Napoleonic Wars surpassed the impact of all the conflicts that had preceded them and nearly led to a financial collapse.

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