Ershov M. F. The exiled decembrists and provincial population of the Trans-Urals (.pdf)


The paper discusses the forced long-term stay of the Decembrists in the places of exile in the Trans-Urals by analyzing their daily existence and the prevailing system of their values. The psychological portrait of a typical noble revolutionary, aristocrat, who even in the exile lived in the world of high aspirations, is presented. The author shows the collision of the Decembrists’ moral ideals with the provincial routine. Primary exclusion of outsiders by local residents later on usually gave way to good neighborly and mutually beneficial relations. It did not mean however that local residents accepted the ideology of the Decembrists. In small provincial towns, the Decembrists still were outsiders, not appropriate and not properly understood by others. Their informal status in the places of exile was not consistent with their official legally powerless position. Exiled noble revolutionaries had influential relatives; they could apply to senior officials of the Russian Empire and, as a rule, were freed from productive labour. It is concluded that there were substantial intellectual and class differences that have prevented convergence between the Decembrists and the residents of the Trans-Urals. The previous national historiography largely exaggerated deprivation of noble revolutionaries and their impact on the development of local culture. The tragedy of noble revolutionaries appeared mostly not due to their physical suffering or challenging financial situation but because of long-term aimless existence in provincial wilderness.


Key words: Decembrist, everyday life, province, political exile, outsider, culture, fringe, town, Trans-Urals.


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