Looking at eighteenth-century relations between Russia and the West through the prism of diplomatic culture and rituals, this article concentrates on a “happy period” in Anglo-Russian contacts in 1768–1772, when Sir Charles Cathcart was dispatched to St. Petersburg to negotiate a treaty between the British and Russian Empires. The article argues that close relations between Great Britain and Russia at that time influenced ceremonial practices, individual contacts, and the transfer of the British culture to the Russian court. Study of the Cathcart’s archive points to the peculiar character of his mission – to the leading role that he, as British ambassador, played among diplomats in Russia; to the role of his wife, who became the first ambassadrice officially presented to Catherine ii; to their residence, which they transformed into an exemplar of “British taste” in St. Petersburg. The Cathcart case study opens up new perspectives on the diplomats in the Age of the Enlightenment.
Elena Borisovna Smilianskaia
Catherine ii’s foreign policy has been traditionally considered very successful. She won three wars and incorporated large territories into the Russian Empire making her country one of Europe’s great powers. But arguments for this kind of evaluation miss Catherine’s own perspective. The article argues that the empress failed to reach any of the initial goals she had put forward. Her foreign policy lacked a considered long-term strategy and from the very start was characterized by a series of mistakes. Catherine did turn Russia into a great power but with quite a different reputation from what she initially had planned.
Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter
Despite the impressive scholarship devoted to the peacemaking that followed the defeat of Napoleon, significant aspects of European politics remain understudied. These include the intellectual apparatus articulated in diplomatic communications and the relationship of diplomacy to national or local political cultures. This article focuses on Russian diplomacy, itself a relatively understudied topic, by exploring the ideas and concepts that defined Alexander i’s foreign policy and the Russian understanding of European order. The article addresses these matters by focusing on Russia’s proposal for a treaty of guarantee which was presented to the allies at the 1818 Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle.
Vitalii Gennad’evich Ananiev and Mikhail Dmitrievich Bukharin
The article examines the history of the May 1927 elections of full members of the Academy of Sciences of the ussr. At the center of attention are issues such as the procedure of the electoral campaign and the criteria that ought to have guided the Academy of Sciences in electing new members – particularly the attitude of academicians to “improper borrowing of materials” (plagiarism) in candidates’ works. The article introduces several dozen documents – private letters, meeting protocols, reports and the like – illustrating the complex system of personal relationships within the Academy, the sharp disagreements of its members over crucial matters of scholarly ethics, and the archaic nature of the Academy’s organizational structure. These documents enable the authors to suggest that, in the 1927 elections of full members of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, all participants ignored fundamental principles of scholarly ethics. The last elections to occur before the scandalous “Academy affair” showed that the Academy of Sciences badly needed organizational reforms: the cumbersome nature of the structure and the ease with which electoral manipulations occurred were too obvious to be ignored. Yet the reforms which followed the 1927 elections led to establishment of total state control over the Academy.
From September 1781 to November 1782 Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, in the company of his wife, Grand Duchess Mariia Feodorovna, visited the major royal courts of Europe under the pseudonym “Comte & Comtesse du Nord.” By emphasizing the ceremonial meanings of high-status incognito tour, this article addresses the seemingly paradoxical relationship between the private status public visibility of the traveling Russian court analyzes the narratives about it in the European press in other documentary accounts related to the tour.
Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter
Not only in Soviet patriotic historiography the conduct of war and the foreign policy of Alexander i were regarded as heroic only from the battle of Borodino onward. The earlier years of the Napoleonic Era and the retreat of Russian armies during the summer of 1812 appeared in a negative light. Revisionist research in Russia and abroad offers another interpretation. When the French army in 1807 after some victorious battles reached the Russian border Alexander maintained a much better bargaining position in talks with Napoleon than disappointed critics among the Russian elite recognized. The emperor of the French was not prepared to continue the war on Russian soil and did not make territorial demands on Russia. Napoleon wanted not only an armistice and peace, but also an alliance with Russia against Britain. Thus Alexander, using the power of the weak opponent, succeeded in winning time. Russia was able not only to maintain her strategic goals against the Ottoman Empire in the Rumanian principalities and in the Black Sea, but also to defend the political existence of Prussia as a possible Russian ally in a future coalition with Austria against Napoleon, which meant a sacrifice of Polish interests by Russia.
Andrei Borisovich Nikolaev
This article analyzes the formula of authority that constituted the basis for the Provisional Government. The author labels this formula the Third of March system. The Third of March system began to dissolve during the political crisis of the “April days”, when the Provisional Government decided to jettison the formulation of its authority that had been so convenient to the Chairman of the State Duma, Mikhail Vladimirovich Rodzianko. The government had contemplated vesting sovereign authority in the Temporary Committee of the State Duma, thereby resurrecting the legislative function of the bicameral Russian parliament, and making the legislature responsible to the executive. The Third of March system finally disintegrated on 6 October 1917, when the Provisional Government dispersed the State Duma and recognized that the authority of members of the State Council had lost its force. The demolition of the Third of March political system led to the liquidation of the Provisional Government’s authority.