*** This is a piece of historical fiction which means some elements are fictional like the letters that I will be writing, but the details are based on real events. My research is brief due to the brevity of my challenge but if you find this event in history interesting see the sources below for further study.
The cloak of darkness is a perfect time to ascend a throne or tear one down…
December 14th, 1825
To my dearest wife,
I grant you my apologies if this letter becomes known to you in mourning. And if it does not, I hope you will sing my praises when we meet in person again. I write this in the house of Conrad Ryleyev, who you may know for his romantic poetry. Conrad and I are members of a secret society born out of the ideals of enlightenment. I will divulge in a moment the quest of our union, but first an apology for these details kept from you for so long . I needed to keep my involvement unknown, fearing the disapproval of your father and how that may have turned you from me. But the time has come for all dishonesty to be dispelled between us. Though I believe Providence to sing joyously at my endeavors, I am, but a man and man can misread the divine’s wishes.
As you know the past three weeks have found Russia in disarray, we have two Czars but no leader. As I take the moments to write this by a waning candle two things are happening in Russia of utmost importance. Nicholas moves toward the Imperial Council in order to ascend the throne, and the society prepares to ignore his call for allegiance. The plan is to demand Constantine as the rightful and eldest heir, but only as a means to deliver our true desires.
We wish nothing less than for the formation of a National Assembly, the necessity of which will become apparent in the dissension caused by a refusal to take the oath towards Nicholas. Our empire is stuck in infancy while those in the west grow into mature societies. John Locke, Voltaire, and Rousseau pen words of such beauty that are morphed into blemishes here. Serfs are not allowed to follow the “pursuit of life, liberty, and property” as we view them as little more than property themselves. And the government doesn’t derive its power from the people as it does in the United States, but rather from an absolute monarch who answers to none but himself. Compromise is no longer a viable option; we saw with Alexander that the Czars only feign an interest in these liberating ideals, and then move ruthlessly to stop their spread.
And so my dearest, I bid you goodbye. We prepare ourselves to go to Senate Square and make our stand. I hope that I shall say hello to you in the dawn of a new Russia.
Prince Sergei Volkonsky
Bokova, Vera. “The Decembrists, 170 years later.” Russian Life, Dec. 1995, p. 7+. General OneFile,go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GPS&sw=w&u=lowell&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA18082596&it=r&asid=1a6bf6b2b148d0f9d6319187d1fce0f9. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.
Cowles, Virginia. “Nicholas I (1825-1855).” The Romanovs, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1974, pp. 154–159.
Freeze, Gregory L. “Decembrist Rebellion.” Russia: a History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009, pp. 156–159.
Strayer, Robert W., and Eric Nelson. “Echoes of Revolution.” Ways of the World: a Brief Global History with Sources, Bedford/St. Martin’s, A Macmillan Education Imprint, Boston, 2016, pp. 716–717.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Kondraty Fyodorovich Ryleyev.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 July 1998, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Kondraty-Fyodorovich-Ryleyev. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.