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Russia, Napoleon and the Threat to British India

  • David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye
Chapter
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series

Abstract

This volume is about the monumental struggle between Napoleonic France and Russia at the turn of the nineteenth century.1 While a fight to the death, its duration pales in comparison to Russia’s clash with the Anglo-Saxon world, which spanned large stretches of the past 200 years. Yet unlike the Second World War, except for the Crimea in the mid-1850s, the latter confrontation involved remarkably little direct combat. Whether Eastern Question, Great Game or Cold War, the adversaries were well aware of the terrible cost an armed clash might bring. Rather than meeting on the battlefield, they preferred diplomatic intrigue and military operations against third parties.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    The best account of this rivalry, albeit from a British perspective, remains Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game (Oxford, 1990). For a recent archivally-based study that sheds some light on Russia’s motives,Google Scholar
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  3. 3.
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  4. 4.
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  5. 5.
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  9. 9.
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  12. 11.
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  24. 25.
    According to Edouard Driault, ‘le mystère n’a pas encore été pénétré’: Edouard Driault, Napoléon et l’Europe: La politique extérieure du premier consul, 1800–1803 (Paris, 1910), 149.Google Scholar
  25. Aleksandr A. Batorskii, ‘Proekt ekspeditsii v Indiiu’, Sbornik geograficheskikh, topograficheskikh i statisticheskikh materialov po Azii, 23 (1886): 40.Google Scholar
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  27. 26.
    The relevant documents are in: RGVIA, f. 26, ‘Voenno-pokhodnaia kantseliariia e.i.v.’, and 846, ‘Voenno-uchennyi arkhiv.’ They have also been republished, beginning with ‘Proekt russko-frantsuskoi ekspeditsii v Indiiu’, Russkaia starina, 7 (1873): 401–10. See also Nikolai K. Shil’der, Imperator Pavel Pervyi (St Petersburg, 1901), 417–9;Google Scholar
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  29. 33.
    The classic English-language survey of the broader story is Matthew S. Anderson, The Eastern Question (London, Macmillan), 1966.Google Scholar
  30. 34.
    Rose, Life of Napoleon, 1, 130–1 (see also 128–37); Dominic Lieven, Russia against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814 (London, 2009), 50–3;Google Scholar
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  32. Serge S. Tatishcheff, Alexandre 1er et Napoléon d’après leur correspondence inédite, 1801–1812 (Paris, 1891), 303–5; Sorel, L’Europe et la révolution française, 7, 167–87.Google Scholar
  33. 35.
    Albert Vandal, Napoléon et Alexandre 1er. L’Alliance russe sous le premier empire, 3 vols. (Paris, 1891), 1, 229.Google Scholar
  34. 41.
    Pace Jennifer Siegel, who argues that the rivalry continued right up to the outbreak of the Great War. See: Jennifer Siegel, Endgame: Britain, Russia and the Final Struggle for Central Asia (London, 2002).Google Scholar

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© David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye 2015

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