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1837Russia's Quiet Revolution$
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Paul W. Werth

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198826354

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198826354.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 28 January 2022

Northern Phoenix

Northern Phoenix

(p.179) 10 Northern Phoenix

Paul W. Werth

Oxford University Press

The year 1837 featured one of Russia’s most spectacular fires, which broke out at the Winter Palace on 17 December. All that was left standing was the hulking skeleton of what had been among the greatest palaces in the world. An unknown number had perished, many in desperate attempt to save articles from the fire and to prevent its transmission to the adjoining Hermitage. The catastrophe created distinct dangers for the regime. Yet it also provided a remarkable opportunity for Russia to demonstrate its resilience and unity of purpose. The emperor, Nicholas I, set an almost impossible deadline for the palace’s reconsecration: the spring of 1839, a mere 15 months after the building’s destruction. Astonishingly, his autocracy managed to achieve that goal, staging a triumphant rededication on Easter night. The whole process featured a curious combination of triumph and anxiety, thus offering insights about the monarchy’s aspirations and apprehensions.

Keywords:   Nicholas I, Winter Palace, Vasilii Zhukovskii, St Petersburg, ideology, press, construction

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