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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

7 - Russia and the legacy of 1812

from Part II - Culture, Ideas, Identities
Russia stood at a historical crossroads when it experienced the trauma of the 1812 Napoleonic invasion. The liberal nationalist reading of the war contains an element of historical truth and is itself a part of history thanks to its place in Russian society's cultural consciousness. Cultural Europeanisation had given the elite an identity separate from everyone else's; as Richard Wortman has argued, 'by displaying themselves as foreigners, or like foreigners, Russian monarchs and their servitors affirmed the permanence and inevitability of their separation from the population they ruled'. This chapter discusses the challenges Russia faced on the eve of the war; the war's contribution to a xenophobic and reactionary nationalism, a reflexive social conservatism, and what might be called 'the paranoid style in Russian politics'. Russia was at war almost continually from the 1790s to 1814. These wars entailed a vast mobilisation of people and created new role models for society.
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The Cambridge History of Russia
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055437
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