A movement with roots in Slavic Romanticism stirred up by the French Revolution and human ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity but also influenced by idealistic German philosophers such as Johann Gottfried von Herder. Slavism was a literary and intellectual movement. The most prominent writers and philosophers were Pavel J. Savarik (1795–1861) and Frantisek Palacky (1798–1876) among the Czechs and Slovaks, Bronislaw Tretowski (1808–1869) and Adam Mickiewicz (1789–1866) among the Poles, Valentin Vodnik (1758–1819) and Ljudant Gaj (1809–1872) from the Balkans, Mikhail P. Pogodin (1800–1875) and Fyodor I. Tyuchev (1803–1875) among the Russians. Pan-Slavism was by contrast political and envisioned the unification of all Slavic peoples. It was supported by Slavic nationalities in the Habsburg Empire and Ottoman Empire and was also a foreign policy tool of the Russian Empire.
   Like Pan-Germanism, Pan-Slavism was awakened by the Napoleonic Wars. Slavs rediscovered their history, philology, and folklore to create a sense of national unity. Pan-Slavism had many facets, like the call for the independence of the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and southern Slavic peoples, but also for the inseparable union of the Russian Empire. On the one hand, it stood for self-determination and independence, on the other for the cultural superiority of the Slavic people over non-Slavic nationalities within the Russian Empire. During the revolution of 1848, the movement held its first congress in Prague. There was the idea of a Pan-Slavic University in Warsaw and three Slavic empires: the Russian Empire, including all territories east of the Vistula; a Western Slavic empire with Prague as its capital; and a southern Slav empire with Belgrade as its capital. But these ideas remained utopian. The problem was that western Slavs were overwhelmingly loyal to the Habsburg Empire, whereas the Balkan Slavs, in particular the Serbs, were loyal to the Russian Empire. From the very beginning, in fact, the Pan-Slavist movement was divided. The Poles showed strong anti-Russian tendencies, whereas minor Slavic nationalities feared that the Russians would dominate the movement and exploit the vision of Slavic unity to make the nationalities of Central Europe and the Balkans into Russia’s vassals. Russian Pan-Slavists believed that, because they had not experienced Habsburg or Ottomans rule, Russians were the “true” Slavs and the natural leaders of the movement. Some proponents even thought that the other Slavic nationalities should adopt Russian as the lingua franca of all Slavs, the Orthodox religion, and even Cyrillic writing. Russian Pan-Slavists sought less the emancipation than the Russification of Slavic peoples.
   Before World War I, Czechs and Slovaks aimed more autonomy within the Habsburg Empire - the so-called Austro-Slavism - but southern Slavs openly advocated complete independence from Habsburg and Ottoman rule. The Serbs sought to unite all of the Balkan Slavs under their rule and turned to Russia for support. The Serbs were at the fore of the Slavic independence movement and were less compromising than the Czechs or Slovaks who favored the solution of the Slavic question through modernization and democratization. Whereas western Slavs were oriented toward the ideals of Western Europe, the orthodox Serbs shared a more Slavic- centered ideology with Russian Slavophiles. Russian Slavism had been influenced by philosophers like A. S. Khomiakov (1804–1860), I. V. Kireevskii (1806–1856), and K. S. Aksakov (1817–1860), who rejected Western ideas based on rationalism and materialism that would destroy Slavic spiritualism. They propagated a return to old Slavic tradition through a renaissance of conservative social and political structures and considered the peasant communalism as the ideal social structure, because most regions of Eastern Europe were agrarian. Aksakov rejected any modernization as degenerate.
   From the mid-nineteenth century, Russian pan-Slavism became more aggressive. The defeat of Russia in the Crimean War of 1853 and the inner reforms of the 1860s were considered symptoms of decay. Humiliation in foreign policy and domestic modernizations based on Western models drove Russian Pan-Slavists to foster an idea of national salvation for all Slavic nationalities through the rejection of industrialization and urbanization and the embrace of agrarian society and the simple life of Slavic peasants as a human ideal. Russian Pan-Slavists also believed in the mission of the Orthodox religion as a universal idea that attracted their orthodox brethren in Serbia. Between 1806 and 1815, the Serbs became autonomous of the Ottoman Porte and were very soon seeking expansion in the Balkans in order to bring all southern Slavs under Serbian rule. This aim endangered the unity of the Habsburg Empire, so Vienna pursued an extremely repressive course in domestic politics that fueled the fire of southern Slavic nationalism and would eventually lead to the July Crisis of 1914.
   In Poland, Pan-Slavism had a difficult quality, because the Poles had known oppressive occupation under by the Russian Empire and viewed the movement as a tool of Russification. As the Russian movement became more aggressive after Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War and the Polish January Revolt of 1863, Russo-Polish animosity revealed deep strains within Pan-Slavism. Polish delegates did not take part in the Pan-Slavist Congress in Moscow in 1867. The Czech delegation under the leadership of the Czech historian Frantisek Palacky spoke up for a Russo-Polish rapprochement, but the Russians clung to their leadership of a movement that under Russian predominance defended Russia’s imperial policy. During the Balkan crisis of 1875–1878, the Pan-Slavist movement propagated an aggressive policy toward the Ottoman Empire, including the conquest of Constantinople as the future capital of a Slavic Union. Western Slavs had no interest in southern Slav irredentism and Russian expansionism. Although they preferred a compromise with Vienna, Czechs and Slovaks were nonetheless not free of radicalism, especially where cultural autonomy was concerned. An extensive pamphlet literature and a series of journals revealed a tone not of reconciliation but of confrontation. Pan-Slavism in the Habsburg Empire, furthermore, provoked anti-Slavism. Hungarians defended their exclusive rights within an empire in which Hungarian had to be the second public language. The Slovaks and Serbs of Hungary criticized the privileged status of Hungarians. Nevertheless, Pan-Slavism was no more aggressive than other nationalist movements such as German and Hungarian nationalism, and it had a profound impact on Slavic identity. From the mid-nineteenth century until World War I, Slavic nationalities within Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire experienced a cultural renaissance, as Slavs rediscovered a history dating to the Middle Ages before Habsburg and Ottoman domination - a period that appeared to have been a golden age. The fin-de-siècle Slavic language experienced a rebirth in journals and schoolbooks. Merchants, the clergy, and teachers supported Slavic cultural renaissance. As each Slavic nationality - Polish, Czech, Slovak, southern Slav, Russian - was grounded in a different historical tradition, Pan-Slavism had never been a homogeneous movement. The two main and opposing factions - a conciliatory policy favored by western Slavs of Catholic belief faith that followed the Western European model of national development, and a violent variant propagated by Serbs and Russians of Orthodox belief who rejected the Western model of the nation-state -represented the divergent paths of gradual transformation and eruptive confrontation. In contrast to Orthodox Pan-Slavism, Austro-Slavism had the character of a democratic national federalism. Czechs recognized that true national and cultural emancipation required a break with imperialism. The main reason for this difference was religion. Western Slavs were influenced by a liberal Catholicism that was an important bond with Austria-Hungary. Russia, as an Orthodox Great Power, was suspicious of conciliatory Austro-Slavism that gained influence in the Balkans among the Croats and Slovenians and in Galicia among the Polish and Ukrainian national movements. From the mid-nineteenth century onward, the comments on Czech Austro-Slavism in Russian periodicals were highly negative, and Austro-Slavism was rejected as a betrayal of the Pan-Slavist ideal. Croatian and Slovenian loyalty to the Habsburg Empire endangered Serb and Russian influence in the Balkans, and con-flict among Slavists contributed to a confrontation between the Habsburg and the Russian Empire that led to World War I.
   See also <>; <>; <>; <>.
    Kohn, Hans. Pan-Slavism: Its History and Ideology. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1953;
    MacKenzie, David. The Serbs and Russian Pan-Slavism, 1875–1878. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1967;
    Milojkovic-Djuric, Jelena. Panslavism and National Identity in Russia and the Balkans, 1830–1880. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1994;
    Rabow-Edling, Susanna. Slavophile Thought and the Politics of Cultural Nationalism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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  • Slavism — /slah viz euhm, slav iz /, n. something that is native to, characteristic of, or associated with the Slavs or Slavic. Also, Slavicism. [1875 85; SLAV + ISM] * * * …   Universalium

  • slavism — slav·ism …   English syllables

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