Alexandra: The Last Tsarina by Carolly Erickson

By Carolly Erickson

Profiting from fabric unavailable till the autumn of the Soviet Union, this biography of Alexandra, the final tsarina, explores: her early life bereavement; her lengthy fight to realize her romantic aim of marriage to Nicholas; the agony of her pathological shyness; the struggles together with her in-laws; a fake being pregnant; her expanding eccentricities as she grew to become extra preoccupied with issues of religion; and her growing to be dependence on a chain of occult mentors, the main infamous of whom was once Rasputin.

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Nineteenth-century engraving. ”35 Speransky intended that the sovereign would retain the prerogatives necessary to implement reforms while at the same time achieving a broader social base for the monarchy and strengthening legality. Alexander and Speransky had had the unhappy experience of clashes with the gentry and court aristocracy, so they decided to introduce their reforms gradually. First came the creation in 1810 of a consultative State Council, which was to serve as the connecting link between the emperor and the State Duma.

Pestel advocated the emancipation of the serfs with land and universal suffrage in a republic to be governed by a single-chamber parliament. ”19 At first glance, Pestel’s project seems more democratic than Muraviev’s, but in fact the thinking of the Southern ON THE PATH TO REFORM 37 Society’s leader was quite complex. Although he gave a prominent place to outwardly democratic principles, Pestel actually planned to introduce a profoundly authoritarian system, the only kind he believed capable of maintaining social stability in Russia.

In 1817 he created a special Ministry of Religious Affairs and Public Education, which lumped together the administration of educational institutions and all the religions in Russia, from Orthodoxy to Lamaism and the paganism of the Siberian tribes. 14 These policies drew protests from both liberal-minded contemporaries and defenders of the paramount role of Orthodoxy. Alexander’s popularity continued to decline. Still more protests arose over another of Alexander’s initiatives, the introduction of military colonies in 1816.

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