Russia and the Defeat of Napoleon, 1812–1814

TitleRussia and the Defeat of Napoleon, 1812–1814
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsLieven, Dominic
JournalKritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History
Date Published2006

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Although a vast and often excellent literature exists on the Napoleonic Wars, there remain important gaps and misconceptions in our understanding both of the wars themselves and of the context in which they were fought. Probably the most significant of these gaps and misconceptions concern Russian's role in the international relations (including, of course, the wars) of the Napoleonic era, which is very imperfectly understood both in Russian and in "the West." Some reasons for misunderstanding are specific to Russian or Western historians. In other respects, however, Russian and Western scholarship on the era shares similar weaknesses. In this article I look first at Western and then at Russian writing on Russia's role in Napoleon's downfall. I seek to explain why Russia's part in the collapse of Napoleon's empire has been misunderstood and underestimated both in Russia and the "West." I also point to the ways in which this has distorted a realistic and balanced understanding of the defeat of Napoleon both in Russia and abroad.

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