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Review of the book: M.A. Davydov. Opposition of its Majesty



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Davydov JR. Oppozition his Majesty. M.: Zebra E, 2005. - 350 pages

In the 1990th the turn to "human measurement" was outlined in a domestic historiography of an era of the Napoleonic wars and Alexander I's governments, the attention of researchers began a thicket to be focused on the fate of historic figures. Most the Russian generals were lucky: in 1996 there was a solid biographic "Dictionary by the Russian generals" of the period of wars of 1812 - 1815 (only 550 biographies) and many of generals of an aleksandrovsky era "were returned from a non-existence". But owing to limited volume all biographies - extremely short also concern almost only the facts of military service (The Russian archive. Issue 7. M, 1996). The mistakes made in this work were corrected in the fundamental encyclopedia "Patriotic War of 1812" (M., 2004), the truth biographic articles even more decreased in volume. In a number of recent publications the famous military historian V.M. Bezotosny made a collective portrait of the Russian generals of an era of Alexander I, expanded our idea of the Russian military elite of that time.

From the researches devoted to her certain representatives the polemical biography of M.I. Kutuzov famous Saratov historian N.A. Troitsky "the Field marshal Kutuzov is selected. Myths and facts" (M., 2002; the first edition, considerably smaller on volume, appeared in 1998) and the book by A.G. Tartakovsky "Unsolved Barclay. Legends and byl 1812" (M., 1996) where, however, to Barclay de Tolly a little place is allocated to M.B.

At last, efforts of our former compatriot of A. Mekaberid-ze created the fundamental biographic dictionary by the Russian generals of 1792 - 1815 (Mekaberidze A. The Russian Officer Corps in the Revolutionary and the Napoleonic wars 1792 - 1815. N.Y., 2005) which contains more than 800 biographies.

The book by M.A. Davydov - a new and big step in this direction. It tells about the Russian generals who caused a stir in wars of 1805 - 1814: A.P. Yermolov, D.V. Davydov, M.S. Vorontsov, A.A. Zakrevsky, P.D. Kiselyov and I.V. Sabaneev. All of them received generalships and became some of the most glorified persons during an aleksandrovsky era.

The emperor Alexander I in 1814 complained that for organization of internal affairs in Russia "there are no people", over time this belief more and more got stronger. The author asks a question: whether there were in elite of the Russian bureaucracy of that time people on whom the emperor could rely when carrying out reforms? Also looks for the answer, analyzing a course of life a pole -

ry generals whom he elected, being guided by their situation and influence in society and also the fact that for a long time they maintained the friendly relations, and we were reached by their extensive correspondence in which they with extreme frankness spoke the most various events and problems. On these letters M.A. Davydov also constructed the research of outlook of characters of the book, their vital "rules", perceptions by them of the major events, their office activity and its compliance of their living position. By well-aimed definition of A. Herzen, "-it is more letter, than memoirs, on them blood of events was baked, it is a past as it was, detained and imperishable". The author constantly gives extensive excerpts from letters that allows us to hear voices of characters, and gradually the whole era "with problems which time degraded in trifles, and the trifles made in problems with joyful self-confidence of ignorance and alarms of prophetic presentiments" appears at us.

It, undoubtedly, the original and innovative research of an era through the fate of specific people (not revolutionaries, however and not "typical" inhabitants), their experiences and thoughts, their evolution for 1815 - the 1820th, favourably differs from other in the fact that the author most fully realizes the information potential of written sources, asking them questions, atypical for a domestic historiography.

Chapter 1, introduction, is devoted to the short description of biographies of characters. The description of disgrace of D.V. Davydov in 1804 (page 18) when he was transferred from guard to the Belarusian Hussars is especially curious. Not "fight against a tsarism" (as claimed in Soviet period with reference to free verses by the poet), and violation of military discipline was the reason for that as it becomes clear, at all (the archival extract from orders on the Kavalergardsky regiment with the description of unworthy behavior of Davydov is given). The message about it reached the emperor, and that forever kept aversion for D.V. Davydov.

Further the author tries to define the relation of generals to such key concepts as "fatherland" and "sovereign" and also interrelation of these concepts of their consciousness. Its conclusion is unambiguous: the fatherland and the sovereign were divided, however were in difficult interrelation.

In chapter of "Rule" the author tries to define the vital principles of the characters on the basis of their correspondence and concrete behavior in any given situation. He convincingly proves that for these people personal a concept about honor ("rule") were their above all that they showed more than once. At the same time the author does not idealize them at all: he shows them living people, rather ambiguous, than pattern "heroes". (Classical examples of similar "pattern" approach see: Serebryakov G. Denis Davydov. M, 1985; Heroes of 1812. M, 1987). What is costed, for example, by the following story about Yermolov relating to the period of its service in the Caucasus: when once mountaineers cut out several Cossacks on pickets, Yermolov called their commander to himself in a tent and, having told that he lashes cannot punish the officer, "with own hand beat, brought down

on the earth, potopat legs and, having thrown out from a tent, ordered to dig a hole into which ordered to throw the beaten officer live" (page 282). From the last Yermolov dissuaded, and indeed already began to dig a hole.

The attention of characters of the book, and together with them and the author, concentrates mainly on problems of army and a domestic situation of Russia. Generals are surprisingly unanimous in the estimates of current state of the country, and it is easy to confuse their letters with "revolutionary" compositions of Decembrists. From Kiselyov, Yermolov, Zakrevsky's extensive correspondence and others the real picture of what was behind a thin layer of gilding of a facade of the Russian Empire appears at us. Here is how, in particular, the Inspection department of General staff ("human resources department" of the Russian army) in 1815 according to the description of its head Zakrevsky looked: "At my introduction in a position I found inspection department in the attitude towards exterior in that pathetic look which is known to anything who visited ever the former Military board. In rooms with a dirty floor and with the walls covered with a web about the tables which are cut up, broken and dirtied by ink sat untidy dressed, and Indus and in sackcloths officials and the clerk on broken, ropes the connected chairs and benches where instead of pillows journal books. & lt were used;...> The Log of firewood was quite often put instead of a pressar. under a table and everywhere on a floor piles of papers in dust and in a disorder, and between them firewood with water" rolled (page 76-77).

Almost in each letter the terrible theft at all levels and is mentioned in all areas and also ignorance, incompetence and sloppiness absolutely ineradicable. The condition of the Russian army of that time, its commanding shots was in the shouting contradiction with statements about allegedly brilliant period of military history of Russia. Here characteristic desperate exclamation of Yermolov: Whether "Invented who a system, dokazuyushchy that generals a creature essence absolutely for troops useless and that they can be blockheads for the most convenient drying with gold sewing of uniforms?" (page 104) in general Yermolov spoke Of officers also extremely negatively (and it is not eternal criticality of the glorified commander). It was echoed by Sabaneev, describing the case deployed in Bessarabia: "There are almost no officers. If to throw out unusable, then there will be. nothing. to fill up also with lt;.> What for the people going to serve as corporals in army? From 1,000 one decent" (page 113). Despite all efforts, Sabaneev could not improve a situation in the case: by his own words, from 1816 to 1821 left "incapable" 4,115 people, from them served term only 53 soldiers, died 3,600 and as much ran. The general decrease of the case made a third of its actual number without any fights (page 116).

Characters of the book emphasized extraordinary low level of development of officers in general, believing that an ongoing beating of soldiers, alcoholism and sloppiness from this results. There is only one indicative figure: from 2,074 officers who were involved in the Borodino fight, the educational level of 51.2% was limited to record "to read and write

is able" (D.G. Tselorungo. Officers of the Russian army are participants of the Borodino battle. M, 2002. Page 113.). At the same time the most part of officers lived in extreme poverty, even many of generals lived is rather poor. It is indicative that in the report for 1825 A.H. Benkendorf pointed to not a brilliant condition of the Russian army.

It is characteristic, however, as Yermolov, and Kiselyov, as well as most of outstanding generals of those years, were convinced of need of maintenance of the Russian soldier for a condition of dumb cattle. They sincerely believed that without fight (let and legalized) with the Russian soldier you will make nothing acceptable. They were extremely frightened by any manifestations of self-respect at soldiers (an example with the Semenovsky regiment in 1820 and others) (page 271-274). As it becomes clear, even M.S. Vorontsov was not against application of corporal punishments at all.

All characters of the book negatively estimated a situation in the empire extremely. Their special hatred was caused by Arakcheev whom now other historians eulogize very much. However they (except for Vorontsov) did not recognize urgency of any basic changes in the country, in many respects following the naive statements of Karamzin about need it is not known where to find 50 honest governors. Yermolov's note with the description of its embassy to Persia is of special interest (1818) where he gives the destroying characteristic of the Persian orders and customs which is easily transferred to a situation in Russia. M.A. Davydov fairly believes that this work can be referred to early decembrist compositions easily.

Despite all severity, rigidity and numerous "intimidations" from Yermolov during his stay in the Caucasus, robbery from civil officials did not decrease. Also his friends could not achieve any essential results, however the idea about basic change of social system to them sickened (the truth, D.V. Davydov very negatively spoke autocracy, but did not take any specific actions, preferring to climb an office ladder). Especially the absence in the country even of the most elementary concepts of legality depressed many. It also is unsurprising, in Russia of that time there was no set of current laws, and about their extreme imperfection and it is not necessary to speak.

All characters of the book perfectly realized existence of an acute country issue (Vorontsov and Kiselyov most), however did not see any ways of its decision, proceeding most often from extremely primitive theories of social system (which were not demanding great intellectual efforts, according to the author), based on momentary observations.

After 1820 all heroes fell into apathy, their conviction more and more grew what it is absolutely impossible to change something to the best and on the government there is no hope (Zakrevsky's letter of 1823 is characteristic in this regard) (page 319-320). In general their estimates of the Russian reality completely coincide with estimates of Decembrists, only opinions on solutions of problems differed. Alexander I in the 1820th already fell into mysticism and apathy, to him the world "Masonic plot" was dreamed everywhere

with the center in France, its participants it considered also some people from the immediate environment.

As a result as the author shows, there was a final rupture of the power with conceiving and not radical a part of society that had catastrophic consequences for the Russian Empire: in power there is no little serious support left in society except for the inert and stupid mass of the ultraconservatives who were not seeing further own nose. It gives terrible characteristic to this public, quoting S.Yu. Witte's (page 230) memoirs.

So, characters of the book of M.A. Davydov appear at the reader living people. With the emotions, "features of the letter", experiences and evolution of views. None of them were born with once and for all certain set of views which to them will be attributed subsequently by historians. Their behavior was not always caused by their political convictions. The special advantage of the book - a view of Alexander I's era not through the traditional scheme "revolutionaries-conservatives". At last, it is written in fine language, with a set of successful turns, comparisons, metaphors, it is read easily and with pleasure.

It is necessary only to regret that the author almost did not pay attention to personal features of Yermolov - his eternal causticity and scepticism in relation to all people around. He did not attach significance and to the principle of seniority by production in the following rank which was considered as the most important in the general environment. At the same time, as it seems to us, it turned out in myth captivity about allegedly essential difference between the Russian army of rumyantsevsko-Suvorov times and the Russian army of the beginning of the 19th century though sometimes and shows fair doubt: and whether there was between them an essential difference? On our belief, a little essential difference was not. Such sizes as P.A. Rumyantsev and A.V. Suvorov, were the most rare exceptions. It is also necessary to recognize that the Russian army of the 18th century gained the main monasteries in campaigns against Turks, and the campaign of 1799, despite a number of dazzling successes, ended in general unsuccessfully - defeat of troops of Rimsky-Korsakov at Zurich and defeat of a Russian-English landing in Holland, and Suvorov's troops as a result were squeezed out from Switzerland. And campaigns 1805 - ended 1807 with severe defeats. Radical ulcers of the Russian army were perfectly shown already then by simple comparison with orders in the French army in work Faber's background "Remarks on the French army of the last time from 1792 to 1808" (SPb., 1808), and it is surprising that this work was published in Russia of that time. The Russian army remained feudal, the chinoproizvodstvo depended on real abilities of military leaders a little, theft prospered extraordinary and who ordered - Suvorov or the same Yermolov, - had no basic difference.

In general the book by M.A. Davydov - the most interesting and original among all Post-Soviet publications about generals of times of Alexander I, big

a contribution as in studying biographies Yermolov, Kiselyov, Sabaneev, Zakrevsky, Davydov, Vorontsov, and in judgment of an aleksandrovsky era in general. On reading of this book you make sure again that with an ulterior motive a considerable part of the conceiving noble youth came to Senate Square on December 14, 1825. The book is relevant also because recently it is accepted to accuse without grounds revolutionaries resolutely of all troubles of Russia. The two-volume political pamphlet by V.V. Krutov "White spots of red color is characteristic in this regard. Decembrists" (In 2 books by M., 2005). Meanwhile letters on Russia of almost 200-year, characteristic of the Russian authorities and society sound is extremely modern and cause various associations. It is sure that each reader will find in the book something important for himself.

L.I. Agronov

Adrian Reginald David
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