A group of Russian nobles who staged a failed coup d’état. During the first half of Alexander I ’s reign, Russia’s educated elite, encouraged by the tsar’s liberal tendencies, had high hopes for the possibility of reform. These intellectuals, many of them military officers, had been educated in the ideas of the Enlightenment. After Napoleon Bonaparte ’s invasion of 1812, many had experienced life in the West during Russia’s subsequent invasion of France and became aware that Russia’s political system and social structure were exceedingly conservative and repressive. When Alexander became more conservative after 1812, they formed secret societies that eventually discussed overthrowing the monarchy. When Alexander died in December 1825, confusion over succession to the throne gave the Decembrists the perfect opportunity to stage their coup. The new tsar, Nicholas I, hesitated but finally used force and crushed the rebellion. Many of the participants were exiled and five were hanged.
   See also <>.
    Mazour, Anatole G. The First Russian Revolution, 1825 - The Decembrist Movement: Its Origins, Development, and Significance . Berkeley: University of California Press, 1937;
    Pomper, Philip. The Russian Revolutionary Intelligentsia . Arlington Heights, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1970.

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

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