For the tsarist regime, Siberia was a ‘vast prison without a roof’, where thousands of revolutionaries and political opponents were exiled. It became, as Daniel Beer explains, a laboratory of the Russian Revolution.
The reforming Tsar sought to westernise his empire, yet in 1723 he published an uncompromising reassertion of his absolutist doctrine, which has traditionally marked Russia’s national consciousness.
Daniel Beer reassesses W. Bruce Lincoln’s 1976 study of Tsar Alexander III’s brief reign, which combined reaction with rapid industrialisation and left a troubling legacy for his successors.
Westerners often consider Russia through the prism of the Soviet Union and the Second World War. But we must look further back if we wish to understand the modern nation’s fears, aims and motivations.