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    A Return to Autocracy?

    The Bureaucratic Network at the Accession of Alexander III

    By Ala Creciun

    Submitted to the Central European University Department of History

    in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts

    Supervisor: Alfred J. Rieber

    Second Reader: Alexei Miller

    Budapest 2013

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    STATEMENT OF COPYRIGHT

    Copyright in the text of this thesis rests with the Author. Copies by any process, either in full

    or part, may be made only in accordance with the instructions given by the Author and

    lodged in the Central European Library. Details may be obtained from the librarian. This

    page must form a part of any such copies made. Further copies made in accordance with such

    instructions may not be made without the written permission of the Author.

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    ABSTRACT

    This study explores the changes in the modes of informal organisation and interaction within

    the highest ranks of state administration during the accession of Russia’s Alexander III in

    1881. Using alternative categories of bureaucratic organisation, this study sheds a new light

    on the dramatic period of deadlock during Alexander III’s first year in power, which has

    hitherto been attributed to the personal idiosyncrasies of the new tsar, but, as this study

    shows, lay in an excessively centralised mode of administrative organisation. As

    centralisation gives the impression of control, studies of the period refer to the accession of

    Alexander III as a ‘return to autocracy’; this study demonstrates that the consolidation of

    autocratic control amid the growing complexity of administration has led Alexander III to

    forfeit control of entire spheres of social life. Finally, the study will touch upon the emerging

    political agents – the mass press and the entrepreneurs – who helped shape the style of the

    new rule.

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    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    This thesis began as a modest inquiry into the ministry of Count N.P. Ignatiev before I

    discovered the transition to the rule of Alexander III in all its complexity. I am indebted to

    Professor Alfred J. Rieber for guiding me through this journey with monumental patience and

    lending this project every conceivable support. For the encouragement and much-appreciated

    grilling I am grateful to Professor Alexei Miller. Professor Nadia Al-Bagdadi and Professor

    Marsha Siefert have supported this project at its more challenging stages, for this I wish to

    thank them personally.

    The Travel Grant, accorded by Central European University, has enabled me to access

    the archival materials for this study. For assistance with the delivery of documents, I would

    like to thank Ana-Teodora Kurkina. The manuscript of the thesis benefited from the

    meticulous reviews by Robin Bellers and Sanjay Kumar. All remaining errors in the text are

    my own.

    My special thanks are to my friends in Moscow, Alina Lapushkina and Yulia

    Zavarykina, for hosting me. As ever, my family and friends have been an unfailing source of

    support, without which the completion of this work would not have been possible.

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    “И днесь учитесь, о цари:

    Ни наказанья, ни награды,

    Ни кров темниц, ни алтари

    Не верные для вас ограды.

    Склонитесь первые главой

    Под сень надежную Закона,

    И станут вечной стражей трона

    Народов вольность и покой.”

    А.С. Пушкин, «Вольность»

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................................. IV

    INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ 1

    HISTORIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW ........................................................................................ 6

    CHAPTER 1: ALEXANDER III – THE MAKING OF A RUSSIAN TSAR ............................... 38

    1.1 Upbringing, Family, Environment ................................................................................ 38

    1.2 Apprenticeship in the Affairs of the State .......................................................................... 42

    1.3 The Making of a ‘Russian’ Tsar ........................................................................................ 45

    1.4 Education ........................................................................................................................... 46

    CHAPTER 2: A NEW CONTEXT FOR AUTOCRACY: POST-CRIMEAN WAR RUSSIA ......... 49

    2.1 Post-Crimean War Context - The Emergence of Entrepreneurs ....................................... 49

    2.2. Entrepreneurs and the State .............................................................................................. 52

    2.3 ‘National Economics’ ........................................................................................................ 56

    2.4 Nationalising the Romanov Dynasty .................................................................................. 61

    CONTINUITIES AND DISCONTINUITIES: INHERITED AND ACQUIRED ELEMENTS OF

    AUTHORITY ................................................................................................................... 68

    3.1 Autocracy, Institutional Structures, and Patterns of Interaction ........................................ 69

    3.2. The Institutional Legacy of Alexander II: The Supreme Administrative Commission .... 77

    3.3 Rewiring the Bureaucratic Network under Alexander III .................................................. 83

    MOSKOVSKIE VEDOMOSTI: SETTING THE TONE OF THE NEW RULE .............................. 96

    4.1 Interpreting the Regicide and the Legacy of Alexander II ................................................ 97

    4.2 Setting the Tone of the New Rule .................................................................................... 102

    CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................................. 107

    ANNEXE 1 .................................................................................................................... 109

    BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................ 110

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    INTRODUCTION

    During the 1860s and 1870s, Russia’s Alexander II (1855-1881) introduced a host of

    reforms, hailed in salons across Europe and in St. Petersburg for their Western, ‘liberal’

    spirit: the dissolution of serfdom, open trial by jury, a new penal code, universal conscription

    emphasising military education and banning corporal punishment, local with greater

    autonomy. For reasons that have been sufficiently discussed elsewhere, 1 the reforms yielded

    mixed results, but it was not until the acquittal of Vera Zasulich in 1878 and later the tree

    unsuccessful attempts on the life of Alexander II during less than one year, 2 that the viability

    of the reformist course came under question. Acceding to the throne, the successor of

    Alexander II, Alexander III (1881-1894), found himself at the crossroads between continuing

    the reformist course of his father and turning to the pre-reform principles of autocratic rule.

    Historiographies on both sides of the Atlantic, accorded elaborate attention in to the

    dramatic factional struggle that accompanied the accession of Alexander III. 3 The rich

    cultural interpretations of ritual, symbolism 4 have given Alexander III’s bent on personal

    1 For instance, Ben Eklof et al., eds., Russia’s Great Reforms, 1855-1881, Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian

    and East European Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994); L. G. Zakharova, Samoderzhavie i

    Otmena Krepostnogo Prava v Rossii, 1856-1861 (Moskva: Izd-vo Moskovskogo universiteta, 1984); Reformy

    Aleksandra II (Moskva: Izdatelstvo “IUridicheskaia literatura,” 1998). 2 After an attempt on the life of Alexander II by D.V. Karakozov on April 4, 1866, there was another attempt on

    20 April 1879 by A.K. Soloviev, before in December of the same year Narodnaya Volia organized an explosion

    on the railway from Livadia, but missed the emperor’s train. Finally, there was the February 5, 1880 explosion

    at the Winter Palace, before Narodnovol’ts

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