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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Heroes, Cowards, & Traitors: The Crimean War & its Challenge to Russian Autocracy.


Russia's defeat in the Crimean War cast new doubt upon the fundamental political traditions, social structures, national myths of the Nikolaevan era. It precipitated wide-ranging reforms, including military reforms, which were predicated on a shift in mentality. This essay examines the new notions of heroism that circulated among Russia's emerging public sphere during and after the war. It analyzes the types of heroes that were celebrated as reflections of critical changes in attitude and mindset, which prefigured the liberalizing era of Alexander II.

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