Enlightened Metropolis: Constructing Imperial Moscow, 1762-1855

Enlightened Metropolis: Constructing Imperial Moscow, 1762-1855 by Alexander M. Martin

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It is a cliché that tsarist Russia had two rival capitals: St. Petersburg, Russias window to Europe; and Moscow, city of palaces and onion domes, the tradition-bound metropolis of the Orthodox heartland. Enlightened Metropolis challenges this cultural myth by examining the tsarist regimes efforts to turn Moscow into a European city. In the eighteenth century, Europeans and even some Russians scorned Moscow as part of Asia, and the tsars themselves thought it a benighted place that endangered both their political security and their effort to Westernize their country and gain respect for Russia abroad. Beginning with Catherine the Great, they sought to remake Moscow on the model of St. Petersburg by reconstructing its buildings and institutions, fostering a Westernized middle estate and constructing a new image of Moscowas an enlightened metropolis. Drawing on the methodologies of urban, social, institutional, cultural, and intellectual history, Enlightened Metropolis asks: How was the citys urban environment - buildings, institutions, streets, smells - transformed in the nine decades from Catherines accession tothe death of Nicholas I? How did these changes affect the everyday lives of the inhabitants, and did a middle estate in fact come into being? Did Moscows urban modernization resemble that of Western cities, and how was it affected by the disastrous occupation by Napoleon in 1812? Lastly, how was Moscows modernization interpreted by writers, artists, and social commentators in Russia and the West from the Enlightenment to the mid-nineteenth century?
Publication Date:
28 / 03 / 2013

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