A. Yu. Andreev. Sources on the resignation of M. M. Speransky in 1812: an experience of a systematic analysis // Petersburg Historical Journal, no. 3, 2022, pp. 185–200
The report at the international scientific conference “The Great Reformer of Russia: to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mikhail Mikhailovich Speransky (1772-1839)”. St. Petersburg, September 22-23, 2022
The article analyzes the source base for studying one of the “mysteries of Russian history” — the sudden resignation of M. M. Speransky from the post of State Secretary of Emperor Alexander I, held in March 1812. The article states that the existing multiple interpretations of these events are based in a large number of cases on the uncritical use of historical sources. A new analysis of the source structure has been carried out and a new classification has been proposed, which is based on the principle of closeness of the source creation time to the described events. Letters, diaries of participants in the events and their contemporaries in 1812, notes and other official documents considered by Emperor Alexander I were collected together, the content of which can be contrasted with later memoirs or stories recorded by historians from the words of third parties, late in their origin and bearing significant distortion. In this regard, previously underestimated facts were revealed, in particular, they emphasize the initial interest of Alexander I in clarifying the circumstances of the “treason of Speransky”, which then fades as hostilities unfold; the evolution of Speransky’s attitude is also shown — from initial humility and acceptance of the exile to the desire to investigate his own case, which was clearly shown in 1821, when Speransky returned to St. Petersburg. As a result, it was concluded that the considered base of sources, provided that the methods of their critical analysis are applied, allows reconstructing the events that led to Speransky’s resignation with a sufficient degree of completeness.
M. M. Speransky, exile, source criticism, classification, letters, diaries, memoirs.
Andreev, Andrei Yurievich — Prof., Dr., Doctor of Sciences (History), professor at the Department of Russian History in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Faculty of History, Lomonosov Moscow State University.