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Seminar paper from the year 2009 in the subject History - Asia, grade: B+ (2), The American Central University (Department of History), course: Colloquium in 19. Century European History , language: English, abstract: The first movement associated with Russian Nationalism was that of the Slavophiles. The Slavophiles were different from their French contemporaries, who saw their identity in relation to the French state. For the Slavophiles, culture, consisting of the Russian language and literature, and the belief in Orthodox Christendom and not so much the state brought about national unity. Vastly influenced by their German neighbors to the West, in the time of Romanticism, Slavophiles tried to cultivate and enhance the idea of a Slavic people and a national community through their writings, and by accentuating the common belief in Orthodox morality and the purity of the rural folk against the decadent West. The Slavophiles had their basis mainly among the intellectuals, what was perceived as Russia’s cultural elite. During the first half of the 19th century, Russia, as the only independent Slav state, with its vast population and its political might, was seen as the heartland of Slavic people.
It was after Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War of 1853-56, when Slavophilism emerged into a political ideology and entered the sphere of politics. Now, intellectuals wanted to put Slavophile ideas on the political agenda, which ought to liberate the smaller Slavic communities from Ottoman, Austrian, and Prussian yoke and bring them under the protection of their bigger brothers, the Russians. Despite its attractiveness and support among Russia’s intellectual elite, and other Slavic intellectuals, the Russian Tsar and officials hesitated with the political ideas of Panslavism. Not all of Russia was populated with Slavic people, but there were also Jews, Baltics and Germans. Further, not all Slavs identified themselves as Orthodox and wanted to be ruled by Russia, for example the Poles. Moreover, Panslavic ideas were responsible for nurturing independent national movements, who were fighting for their right of self-determination from any foreign rule. Confronted with the impact of these ideas, the Russian authorities half-heartedly approached Panslavism. Official Russia, in its nationality policy, pursued the russification of its Western territories through Russian language and education, but dismissed Panslavic ideas in its high politics like in foreign policy, despite in rhetoric.