Russia History Romanov Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality

Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality

After the Decembrist Revolt, Tsar Nicholas I hoped to avoid future conspiracies by fostering a new generation of loyal and devoted citizens. Count Sergei Uvarov, a classical scholar and expert on Greek literature and archaeology, was entrusted with this task. In 1833, he came up with the concept of “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality.”

Count Uvarov wrote that “without love for the faith of their ancestors, peoples as well as individuals must perish... The salutary conviction that Russia lives and is preserved by the spirit of a strong, humane and enlightened autocracy must permeate the people’s education and develop with it. Along with these two principles, there is a third, no less important, no less powerful – nationality.” By nationality, Uvarov meant the national spirit or populism, but his ideas were later distorted and taken out of context by conservatives as an excuse for russification.

During his sixteen years as minister of education, Sergei Uvarov implemented his ideology in the universities and grammar schools. But the obvious support for the wave of revolutions in 1848 dashed Nicholas’s dreams of a new generation of loyal subjects. The tsar dismissed Uvarov from his post and began to clamp down on civil liberties.

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