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Entries / Decembrists


Categories / Social Life/Political Parties and Organizations

DECEMBRISTS, members of secret societies, mainly, Guard officers and Masonic lodge members, who excited a rebellion against autocracy and serfdom in December 1825 (hence the name). Many of the future Decembrists were born in St. Petersburg and over 70 of them were educated in schools of St. Petersburg such as the 1st and 2nd Cadet Corps, Sea Cadet Corps, Page Corps, Noble Regiment, Cadet Corps of Mining, Institute of Corps of Communications Engineers, Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum, St. Petrischule, Regional Gymnasium, Noble Boarding School, Jesuit Boarding School, and private boarding schools of Jacquino, Meyer, Nicolas, etc. The first pre-Decembrist organizations appeared in St. Petersburg in 1814. These were called artels and consisted of officers of the Headquarters (Holy Artel) and Semenovsky Life Guard Regiment (Semenovskaya Artel). The first secret society called Soyuz Spasenia (the Union of Salvation) was founded by A. N. and N.M. Muravyevs, M.I. and S.I. Muravyev-Apostols, Prince S.P. Trubetskoy, and I.D. Yakushkin on 9 February 1816 at the meeting held in the officers" quarters of the Semenovsky Regiment on Zagorodny Avenue (not preserved). Another secret society was Soyuz Blagodenstvia (the Union of Welfare) with a number of boards operating in St. Petesburg from mid-to-late 1818. The Decembrists held their meetings in the apartments of N.M. Muravyev (25 Fontanka River Embankment; commemorative plaque), N.I. Turgenev (20 Fontanka River Embankment; commemorative plaque), Prince I.A. Dolgorukov (Ekateringofsky Avenue, today 37 Rimskogo-Korsakova Avenue), and I.P. Shipov at Preobrazhenskie quarters, Millionnaya Street (not preserved). In January 1820, a meeting of the Main Board of the Union of Welfare was held at F.N. Glinka"s flat (18 Teatralnaya Square; commemorative plaque) where a decision was made to fight for the republican form of government for the first time in the Russian liberation history on the initiative of P.I. Pestel. Aggravated by the disturbances among soldiers of the Semenovsky Regiment in October 1820, and disputes between the Union members the organization was brought to voluntary dissolution. In 1821, N.M. Muravyev and Turgenev founded the Northern Society in St. Petersburg. The Southern Society was founded in Ukraine nearly at the same time with a branch established in St. Petersburg and headed by P.N. Svistunov. K.F. Ryleev, Prince E.P. Obolensky, and A.A. Bestuzhev who took the lead of the Northern Society by the middle of 1825 were strong supporters of republicanism and determined actions. The secret society was widely represented in the Guards with its members doing their military service in all the units. The integration of the Southern and Northern Societies was negotiated in St. Petersburg from 1823. The joint march was scheduled for 1826 but the dynastic crisis resulted from the unexpected death of Emperor Alexander I in Taganrog prompted the Decembrists to rise before the scheduled time. The rebellion plan of December 14, 1825 was drawn up at Ryleev"s (72 Moyka Embankment; commemorative plaque) and Trubetskoy"s (4 Angliiskaya Embankment) during the interregnum period. The Decembrists" intention was to prevent guards units from swearing to the new sovereign and make the Senate declare abolition of serfdom and autocracy and announce convocation of the Constitutional Assembly. After the rebellions had been crushed down in St. Petersburg and Ukraine, most of the Decembrists were arrested and confined to Peter and Paul Fortress including about 300 members of the secret societies and over 700 soldiers and sailors. The committee of inquiry had a meeting in the house of the governor of the fortress from December 23, 1825 (devoted to the Decembrists, the exposition of the Museum of St. Petersburg History can be now seen in the former governor"s house). The sentence of the Supreme Criminal Court was passed on 120 participants on July 12, 1826. On July 13, 1826, M.P. Bestuzhev-Ryumin, P.G. Kakhovsky, S.I. Muravyev-Apostol, P.I. Pestel, and K.F. Ryleev were hanged on the eastern rampart of Peter and Paul Fortress. In 1940, a monument was erected on Dekabristov Island where the 5 hanged Decembrists had been supposedly buried. In 1975, another monument was put at the place of execution. The execution of 97 Decembrists sentenced to penal servitude and exile was held as a ceremony on the glacis of the fortress (today, Alexandrovsky Park) on the same day. A similar execution of 15 naval officers was held in the roads of Kronstadt. About 40 Decembrists were buried in Alexander Nevsky Lavra, Hermitage of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius, Smolenskoe Cemeteries, Volkovskoe Cemeteries, Bolsheokhtinskoe Cemetery, Mitrofanievskoe Cemetery, Novodevichye Cemetery, and other cemeteries (most of graves were not preserved). Former Ofitserskaya Street, bridge over the Kryukov Canal, former Senatskaya Square, Goloday Island, and former Golodaevsky Lane were named after the Decembrists in 1918, 1923, 1923, 1926, and 1940s, respectively.

Reference: Восстание декабристов. М.; Л., 1925-2001. Т. 1-20; Принцева Г. А., Бастарева Л. И. Декабристы в Петербурге. Л., 1975; Декабристы: Биогр. справ. М., 1988; Декабристы в воспоминаниях современников: Сб. ст. М., 1988; Гордин Я. А. Мятеж реформаторов 14 декабря 1825 г.: После мятежа: (Хроника). СПб., 1997; Пушкина В. А., Ильин П. В. Персональный состав декабристских тайных обществ (1816-1826): Справ. указ. // 14 декабря 1825 года: Источники, исслед., историография, библиография. СПб.; Кишинев, 2000. Вып. 2. С. 9-77; Петербург декабристов. СПб., 2000.

A. D. Margolis.

Alexander I, Emperor
Bestuzhev Alexander Alexandrovich
Bestuzhev-Ryumin Mikhail Pavlovich
Dolgorukov Ilya Andreevich, Duke
Glinka Fedor Nikolaevich
Jaquinot P.I.
Kakhovsky Peter Grigorievich
Muravyev Andrey Nikolaevich
Muravyev Nikita Mikhailovich
Muravyev-Apostol Matvey Ivanovich
Muravyev-Apostol Sergey Ivanovich
Nicolle Charles Domenique
Obolensky Evgeny Petrovich, Duke
Pestel Pavel Ivanovich
Ryleev Kondraty Fedorovich
Shipov Ivan Pavlovich
Svistunov Peter Nikolaevich
Trubetskoy Sergey Petrovich, Duke
Turgenev Nikolay Ivanovich
Yakushkin Ivan Dmitrievich

Angliiskaya Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 4
Dekabristov Lane/Saint Petersburg, city
Dekabristov Square/Saint Petersburg, city
Dekabristov St./Saint Petersburg, city
Fontanka River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 20
Fontanka River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 25
Millionnaya St./Saint Petersburg, city
Moika River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city, house 72
Rimsky-Korsakov Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 37
Teatralnaya Square/Saint Petersburg, city, house 18

Восстание декабристов. М.; Л., 1925-2001
Пушкина В. А., Ильин П. В. Персональный состав декабристских тайных обществ (1816-1826): Справ. указ. // 14 декабря 1825 года: Источники, исслед., историография, библиогр. СПб.; Кишинев, 2000
Декабристы: Биогр. справ. М., 1988
Декабристы в воспоминаниях современников: Сб. ст. М., 1988
Гордин Я. А. Мятеж реформаторов 14 декабря 1825 г.: После мятежа: (Хроника). СПб., 1997
Принцева Г. А., Бастарева Л. И. Декабристы в Петербурге. Л., 1975
Петербург декабристов / Сост. А.Д.Марголис. СПб., 2000

The subject Index
Naval Cadet Corps
Naval Cadet Corps
Page Corps
Page Corps
Nobility Regiment
Plekhanov State Mining Institute, St. Petersburg
St. Petrischule
Semenovsky Life Guards Regiment
St. Peter and Paul fortress
St. Peter and Paul fortress
Commandant's House
St. Petersburg Museum of History
Kronverk (Crownwork)
Alexander Nevsky Lavra
Holy Trinity & St. Sergius Hermitage
Smolenskoe Cemeteries
Volkovskoe Cemeteries
Novodevichye Cemetery
Novodevichye Cemetery


Alexander I, Emperor (1777-1825)

ALEXANDER I (1777, St. Petersburg - 1825), Emperor (since 1801). Son of Emperor Paul I and Empress Maria Fedorovna. Brought up by his grandmother, Empress Catherine II

Aptekarsky Lane

APTEKARSKY LANE, translated as Pharmacy Lane, between Millionnaya Street and Moika River Embankment. It was laid in 1730s and called Aptekarskaya Street from the early 1730s to 1780s. The lane was so named after the Central Pharmacy moved from SS

Bestuzhev A.A. (1797-1837), writer, critic, decembrist

BESTUZHEV (pen name Marlinsky) Alexander Alexanderovich (1797, St. Petersburg - 1837), writer, critic, decembrist, staff-captain (1825). Trained at the Mining Cadet Corps but never graduated (1810-15)

Cavalier Guards Regiment

CAVALIER GUARDS REGIMENT, Guards Cuirassier Regiment, formed in St. Petersburg on 11 January 1800 from the Cavalier Guards Corps, which existed intermittently from 1724 through 1797

Commandant's House

COMMANDANT'S HOUSE, the commandant's residence at Peter and Paul Fortress. The first wooden Commandant's house was constructed in 1704. In 1718, it was replaced by a new building

Dekabristov Garden

DEKABRISTOV GARDEN is situated on Dekabristov Island in the area of where it is thought that the graves of five executed Decembrists are located, hence the name. It is situated between Uralskaya Street, Nalichnaya Street and KIMa Avenue

English Club

ENGLISH CLUB, English assembly, one of the first club-type establishments in Russia. It was founded on March 12, 1770 at Her Majesty Catherine II's pleasure by English entrepreneurs F. Gardner and C. Gardiner

Golenischev-Kutuzov P.V., Governor General 1825-30

GOLENISCHEV-KUTUZOV Pavel Vasilievich (1772-1843, St. Petersburg), Count (1832), statesman and military figure, General of Cavalry (1826), Adjunct General (1810). He was brought up in the Corps of Pages, from 1794, he served in Cavalry Guards

Griboedov A.S. (1794 or 1795 – 1829), writer, diplomat

GRIBOEDOV Alexander Sergeevich (1794 or 1795-1829), writer, musician and diplomat. Held the rank of civil counsellor and was a Minister Resident in Persia (1828)

Izmaylovsky Life Guards Regiment

IZMAYLOVSKY LIFE GUARDS REGIMENT, third in seniority (after Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky) of infantry regiments in the Russian guards. Formed by a decree of Empress Anna Ioannovna in 1730 in Moscow

Konstantin Pavlovich (1779-1831),Grand Prince

KONSTANTIN PAVLOVICH (1779, Tsarskoe Selo - 1831), Grand Prince, Tsesarevich (Crown Prince) (from 1799). Second son of Emperor Pavel I. From 1797, Inspector General of the whole Cavalry, from June 1798 also Chief Commander of the Cadet Corps

Kuchelbecker W.K. (1797-1846), poet, decembrist

KUCHELBECKER Wilhelm Karlovich (1797, St. Petersburg - 1846), poet, decembrist, retired Collegiate Assessor. On graduating from Tsarskoe Selo Lycee (1817, classmate of A.S

Masonic Lodges

MASONIC LODGES, associations (meetings) of the followers of the religious-ethical doctrine (masonry), urging people to unite on the principles of equality, mutual aid and fraternal love

Ryleev K.F. (1795-1826), decembrist

RYLEEV Kondraty Fedorovich (1795-1826, St. Petersburg), poet, decembrist, retired 2nd lieutenant. Came to St. Petersburg in 1801. Graduated from the First Cadet Corps (1814). He participated in the Foreign Campaigns of 1813-14

St. Peter and Paul fortress

ST. PETER AND PAUL FORTRESS, the historical centre of St. Petersburg, a monument of military engineering, the oldest engineering and architectural sight of the city

Teatralnaya Square

TEATRALNAYA SQUARE, known as Karuselnaya Square until the 1780s, surrounded by Griboedova Canal Embankment, Kryukov Canal Embankment, Dekabristov Street, Glinki Street and Soyuza Pechatnikov Street. The square was built in the 1760s

Trubetskoy Bastion

TRUBETSKOY BASTION, one of 6 bastions of Peter and Paul Fortress, situated in its south-western part. The bastion was built in 1703, of earth and wood under the supervision of prince Y.Y