The Historical Journal



Historiographical reviews

IN SEARCH OF LIBERAL TSARISM: THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF AUTOCRATIC DECLINE


CHRISTOPHER  READ  a1
a1 University of Warwick

Abstract

The idea that the autocracy might have successfully modernized itself has, in recent years, spread widely beyond academic circles. However, a look at traditional and recent historiography shows that very few historians support this line. Even those who argue that Russia itself was developing rapidly have seen little prospect of the autocracy surviving the process. Equally, those who argue that radical socialist revolution might have been avoided tend to suggest, often by implication rather than in an explicit fashion, that a democratic, capitalist, bourgeois, and constitutional revolution was the alternative path. Thus it was not so much a question of tsarism or revolution but rather what kind of revolution was Russia facing?