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504 Рецензии/Reviews Andrew A. GENTES Alexander Bitis, Russia and the Eastern Question: Army, Government and Society, 1815–1833 (Oxford and NewYork: Oxford University Press, 2006). xxiii+541 pp. Maps, Bibliography, Index. ISBN: 978-019-726-327-3. A review in this journal of Alexander Bitis’s hefty tome is long overdue, for it will be the definitive Anglophone study of “the Eastern Question” for many years to come. Joining many recent studies of the imperial periphery doubtlessly already familiar to Ab Imperio readers, it adds as well to the historiography reassessing Nicholas I’s reign. Within the field of tsarist military history, Russia and the Eastern Question is more focused than Alex Marshall’s recent analysis of the Asian theater, though less direct than Frederick Kagan’s The Military Reforms of Nicholas I, to which Bitis acknowledges a debt.1 Interweaving several fields usually treated separately, Russia and the Eastern Question is an impressive work of scholarship. “The Eastern Question” was and remains a somewhat confused term whose meaning shifted over time; Bitis settles on the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica “classic” definition of it as an “expression used… to comprehend the international problems involved in the decay of the Turkish empire and its supposed impending dissolution” (quoted on P. 21). For Nicholas I, these problems amounted to advancing Russia’s interests at Turkey’s expense while preserving the Ottoman state and avoiding a military response byAustria, France, or England to maintain the balance of power.Territorially, Russia sought to annex or at least exert influence over the Porte and, of course, the Straits. But the Eastern Question also involved Persia, insofar as the vassal khanates and pashlyks Russia wrested away from it then had to be defended against Persian revanchism. The three-way struggle between Russia, Turkey, and Persia for control over the Caucasus and Transcaucasia originated during the sixteenth century, when Muscovite expansionism turned Russia into an Asian, not just European, state, and it is this “‘Asiatic’dimension” that Bitis purports to emphasize in contrast to the traditionally “Eurocentric understanding of the Eastern Question” (P. 2). Yet this goal is only partially fulfilled: Bitis’s overwhelmingly archival sources include Russian military and central government documents and (mostly) British diplomatic reports, yet nothing from the 1 Alex Marshall. The Russian General Staff andAsia, 1800–1917. London, 2006; Frederick W. Kagan. The Military Reforms of Nicholas I: The Origins of the Modern Russian Army. New York, 1999. 505 Ab Imperio, 3/2009 Turks, Persians, or other principals involved. The result, he admits, is a Russocentric account of the Eastern Question, even if it does represent better than previous works Russia’s “Asiatic” concerns and activities. What follows is a wide-ranging discussion covering four principal topics: military (and to some extent government) administration and reorganization; military strategy and the campaigns of the Russo-Persian War of 1826–1828 and the RussoTurkish War of 1828–1829; international relations and diplomacy, including the Treaty of Adrianople, Russia’s protectorate over the Danubian Principalities, and their aftermaths ; and wartime propaganda and public opinion. The first topic revolves around the struggle between the “Germans” and “Russians” that was exacerbated by the patriotism emergent after 1812 among not just elites but the narod. Shading into chauvinism, Russian national pride targeted the Germans who were supposedly dominating the military and society. Baltic Germans did occupy a disproportionate number of leadership positions, and Nicholas’s closest associates tended to be of German extraction; but the charge of “Germanism ” more importantly signified a fetish for order and discipline and contempt for the average Russian. Hence, Arakcheev was considered a “German” while the Decembrist Baron A. E. Rozen (Rosen) was accepted as a “Russian.”As for Nicholas , he was on the one hand rumored to be German (a claim in many ways true), and on the other regarded as the “little father” cruelly kept apart from his subjects by a claque of German courtiers. On a more material level, the Germans were principally responsible for adapting the Prussian General Staff model to the Russian army. His Imperial Majesty’s Main Staff (Glavnyi shtab) had actually originally been established by Paul I, but under Nicholas it came to displace the War Ministry...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 504-508
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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