Decembrist Uprising
of 1825

by Christine Durden


December 14, 1825, in Senate Square, St. Petersburg, marked the "first phase of Russia's emancipation." Russia's former czar, Alexander I died, and on this day was to be replaced by his brother, Nicholas I. A group of revolutionists, known as Decembrists, accompanied by 3,000 rebel soldiers planned to stop the coronation and seize control of the state.


The Decembrists formed as secret societies beginning in 1815, after the Napoleonic War. They were influenced by new French and German philosophy that embodied social change (brought about by the French Revolution.) Those who formed these societies were part of Russia's elite upper class. They felt that Russia need change; partly because of economic stagnation, high taxes an ideas of social reform in the west. The societies were divided into two main groups; those in Russia's North and those in the South. The South, lead by Pavel Pestel, held radical view. While the North was more conservative. Although, both parties knew that serfdom and the autocracy should be ended they could not agree on many other issues. For example, the role of the provision government and land reform were in constant debate.


On December 14 the radicals had hoped they could watch the old rule be abolished, but it would not be. All soldiers were assembled in Senate Square in order to pledge their allegiance to the new Czar. It was at this point that approximately 3,000 of these men refused and the revolt began. Decembrist planned to seize control during the confusion. Unfortunately, the confusion was not enough. Nicholas I and his party used the remaining number of sworn, loyal soldiers to put down the revolt and retain power.

The Decembrist plan of revolution failed. But, their efforts and ideas began a quest against the Czar for Russia's people. The Decembrist would not soon be forgotten, but used as inspiration for the next revolution.


Sources :

  • McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union, Donat Publication Co., 1961.

  • USA Encyclopedia American, Grolier Inc., 1991. Connecticut, USA




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