«People of the 1820s». On the Biographies of Matvey and Sergey Murav’ev-Apostols

Kiyanskaya O.I.


This article is the first part of the scientific work devoted to the destinies of Matvey and Sergey Murav’ev-Apostols. Addressing contrasting opinions about the brothers, expressed by their contemporaries and some of the historians of the Decembrist movement, the author notes that Sergey, the younger brother, was perceived, according to his contemporary, as «one of the best persons of his own and any other time», while Matvey was characterized as Sergey’s «pale and cold companion», who played no significant role in the events of the 1820s. The article sheds a new light on the brothers’ biographies, attempting to examine them in the cultural and political contexts of their time. In particular, the text focuses on I.M. Murav’ev-Apostol’s (Sergey and Matvey’s father) book «A journey around Tavrida in 1820», which describes the morals of the young nobility who had taken part in the war of 1812 and the European anti-Napoleon campaigns of 1813 and 1814. According to I.M. Murav’ev-Apostol, having become accustomed to strong emotions during the war events, they afterwards had to choose between the boredom and idleness of after-war life and active part in public life for a higher purpose. As the author argues, the same applies to the brothers' psychologies. The analysis of the social and political activity of the Murav’ev-Apostols is brought to the end of the 1820s. The author of this article describes the early secret societies of the Decembrists: The Union of Salvation and The Union of Welfare, as well as the roles of Matvey and Sergey in the activities of these societies. The researcher also focuses on thechanges in the moods of the brothers – from periods of depression and disappointment to spirited activities. Concluding, the author touches upon the uprising of the Semenovsky regiment in 1820 and its impact on the biographies of the characters of this article.


Matvey Murav’ev-Apostol; Sergey Murav’ev-Apostol; Decembrists; revolt of the Semenovsky regiment.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.04.03

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