The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs

The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs

The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs

The Emperors and Empresses of Russia: Rediscovering the Romanovs

Synopsis

Since glasnost began, Russia's most eminent historians have taken advantage of new archival access and the end of censorship and conformity to reassess and reinterpret their history. Through this process they are linking up with Russia's great historiographic tradition while producing work that is fresh and modern. In "The Emperors and Empresses of Russia", renowned Russian historians tell the story of the Romanovs as complex individual personalities and as key institutional actors in Russian history, from the empire builder Peter I to the last tsar, Nicholas II. These portraits are contributions to the writing of history, partaking neither of wooden ideologisation nor of naive romanticisation.

Excerpt

For a long time, the history of the Romanov dynasty was a topic all but forbidden to official Soviet historiography, which in principle reacted negatively to dynastic history in general, and to the history of the Romanovs and the reigns of its individual representatives in particular. They were subjected to severe criticism, fundamentally denunciatory in nature. What epithets were not bestowed upon the Russian tsars! They were accused of every vice--stupidity, spinelessness, petty tyranny, incompetence in and disinclination to occupy themselves with affairs of state, even dislike of Russia. Only a few Romanovs, for example Peter I, attracted the attention of historians and writers, but in most cases the portraits that were created reflected the biased political and ideological directives that prevailed in society at that time.

Particularly harsh criticism was applied to the last Romanovs, whose activity was perceived as entirely negative. This served the goal of demonstrating that Russia, as it strove to reach the level of the industrially developed countries of Europe and the world, had no alternative other than a violent, revolutionary break with its existing way of life and prior system of social relationships.

Only recently, in the wake of the changing situation in the new Russia and society's growing interest in the fatherland's true history, have publications (including reprints) of memoirs and monographs previously unknown to Russian readers begun to appear. These publications have made it possible to examine our country's past anew and to characterize without bias the state and public figures who performed on the political stage, including the members of the Romanov dynasty and this dynasty's role and place in Russian history.

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