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Nicholas I - Ideology

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Updated: 07.11.2003

Ideology

Nicholas' views fitted his personality to perfection. In contrast to Alexander I, he had been brought up at the time of wars against Napoleon (see Napoleon invasion) and of reaction, which he accepted wholeheartedly as his own cause. Eventually the Russian wing of European reaction, represented by Nicholas I and his government, found its ideological expression in the doctrine of so-called Official Nationality.

Formally proclaimed in 1833 by Count Sergey Uvarov, the Emperor's minister of education, Official Nationality rested on three principles: Orthodoxy, autocracy, and nationality. Autocracy meant the affirmation and maintenance of the absolute power of the sovereign, which was considered the indispensable foundation of the Russian state; in foreign relations it was transformed into legitimism and a defence of the Vienna settlement.

Orthodoxy referred to the official church (see Russian Orthodox Church) and its important role in Russia and also to the ultimate source of ethics and ideals that gave meaning to human life and society. Nationality (narodnost) described the particular nature of the Russian people, considered as a mighty and dedicated supporter of its dynasty and government. Whereas Alexander I had never quite abandoned dreams of change, Nicholas I was determined to defend the existing order in his motherland, especially autocracy.

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Life is doubt, and faith without doubt is nothing but death.
Miguel de Unamuno
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