Is it possible to put an equal sign between masons and Decembrists? Nargiz Asadova and Leonid Matsikh, the host programs of the Brothers radio station Ekho Moskvy, answer this question. Fully read and listen to the original interview can be on the link.
The first question that arises when you see the above topic: “Is it possible to put an equal sign between Masonic lodges and Decembrist societies?” Let us turn, for example, to Obolensky’s memories of Ryleev: “It was hard to resist the charm of the Union of Welfare, whose goal was moral improvement of each of the members, mutual assistance to achieve the goal, mental education as a tool for a rational understanding of everything that society represents in civil society and moral direction, and so on. " What is not Masonic ethics ?!
It turns out that many people tried to equate the Decembrists and Masons. But these are not exactly identical concepts. Freemasonry is an essentially non-political organization. Although, of course, there is an operational Freemasonry, which deals with the device, the reorganization of the outside world. But, on the other hand, spiritual freemasonry, mystical, to the outside world is completely indifferent; it deals exclusively with the knowledge of God, the improvement of the human soul, the merging with the absolute - things that are very far from politics. And the Decembrist societies, both explicit (which, by the way, was the “Union of Welfare” mentioned above) and secret, had only frankly political goals.
There is an opinion that the Decembrists were romantics, young people. This is not quite true. Among the top of the Decembrist movement were representatives who fought under Borodino. And by the way, many of them, for example, Yakushkin, Pestel, were awarded gold swords for bravery. These were military officers, in the ranks. Pestel was a colonel, Trubetskoy and Volkonsky too. And then such titles were not given immediately. These were people who have come a long way, accustomed to kill. They were not afraid of blood and believed that they could take the fate of Russia and Europe into their own hands. Of course, among them were youngsters, for example, Bestuzhev-Ryumin, a young boy. But this is the exception rather than the rule. Young was Kakhovsky, who shot Miloradovich. But most of the leaders of the movement were mature people.
A few words about the leader of the Southern Society of Decembrists Pavle Pestele. We repeat, Pavel Ivanovich was not a romantic, but, on the contrary, was a tough and pragmatic man. He saw himself as a dictator and dreamed of the glory of Napoleon. On this occasion, there is a beautiful poem by David Samoilov "Pestel, the poet and Anna", in which there are such lines: "He is very clever // And strong in spirit. It can be seen, marks in Brutus. // But times for brutes are too steep. // Is not Napoleon the brute? ”
Therefore, to idealize the Decembrists, to ascribe to them some kind of romantic features is not worth it. These were conscious liars, people who went to forgery, to deception in order to achieve their political goals. Many of them had already left the Masonic lodges at the time of the performance. For example, the same Pestel. Why? But because for him there were no forbidden things. He believed that the end justifies the means (that which would later be called revolutionary expediency). It is completely at odds with Masonic ethics.
But that's not the point. The fact that Pestel - just a man is not typical for the Mason-Decembrist. Much more characteristic people are Trubetskoy, Volkonsky, Shakhovskaya - those who were ideologues. They just did not approve of the extremes that Pestel could take. He just failed. If he won, God knows who he was. Is not the second Robespierre ?!
Alexander Muravyov, Nikita Muravyov - these are typical figures of Decembrist masons; people who talked about the future of Russia not from the point of view of how to equip, but how to solve the fundamental question of how to free the peasants.
Nikita Muravyov wrote the constitution. He, like Shakhovskaya, Trubetskoy, Volkonsky, believed that the constitutional monarchy was more suitable for Russia. He did not want to quickly turn the state ship, he wanted just slow, unhurried changes.
But the man in a hurry was Kondraty Ryleev. It was he who started a rumor among the soldiers that supposedly Nikolai had deceived the throne. It was an absolute lie. Nicholas of the throne did not want, and only having received the paper that Constantine renounced, placed the burden of the kingdom upon himself, he swore the troops, the Senate and the Synod.
That is, Ryleev was a conscious liar. It is not known what helped him in this: whether his poetic imagination (he was considered the second poet after Pushkin, more precisely, he declared himself so), or membership in the masonic lodge ... Ryleev was a journalist, assessor, publicist, accuser of Arakcheev, author of the lodge "To the temporary worker." A fiery tribune and a cunning monarch, a cunning flatterer and ungrateful friend, Ryleev was an absolutely false and two-faced person. He manipulated the people whom Yakubovich and Kakhovsky were suing for a regicide. And, in the end, he led the latter under the gallows.
I wonder if a freemason became a Decembrist and proclaimed such ideas as the murder of a monarch, didn’t he be expelled for it from a lie? Perhaps, only Pestel knew about the killing of the monarch, Ryleev, perhaps the top of the Decembrist community, without regard to the membership in the lodges. And those people to whom the monarchy was attributed, there were three of them - Yakushkin, Yakubovich (both heroes of the Patriotic War, and Yakubovich also distinguished himself in the Caucasus) and Kakhovsky. But this idea was in the air. Let us recall Pushkin, who describes a certain collection “At the Restless Nikita” (this is Nikita Muravyov):
I read my Noeli Pushkin,
It seemed silently bared
So it was an open secret, but formally it was not proclaimed anywhere. By the way, Pushkin himself, before joining Freemasonry and before any Decembrist influence, wrote, addressing the Tsar:
The self-destructive Villain!
You, your throne, I hate,
Your death, the death of children
With cruel joy I see.
“How did the masons take it?” You ask. And so it was accepted. They did not like Alexander for inconsistency, for lying, for cowardice, for the fact that all power was in the half-mad inquisitor Photius and in the vile temporary worker Arakcheyev. They did not like Alexander for the introduction of military settlements, which moaned throughout the land; they did not like for his desire to evade responsibility, absolutely not masculine and royal behavior; they didn’t like because he missed many opportunities, and Russia, with external grandeur, the winner of Napoleon, the first power in Europe, inside remained a state of rotten autocracy, the dictatorship of fear and bribery, corruption, judicial arbitrariness, underdeveloped industry, production, a country of serf slavery . It was this that depressed the advanced part of the officers, especially those who brilliantly and heroically went through the war. And for this they did not like Alexander, and many wished him dead. Although a very narrow group of conspirators knew formally about the plan of the regicide.
It is known that from the very beginning Decembrist societies were conditionally secret, that is, everyone knew about them. But in the early 20s, in particular, in 1821, at the congress in Moscow, members of the Union of Welfare announced the liquidation of their own organization. There is a version that in this way they tried to get rid of unnecessary people, possible traitors, because, in fact, too many people entered the organization by that time. Is it so? Not really. They were completely different people. First, the notion of noble honor ruled betrayal. There were only two traitors in this case - Captain Mayboroda and non-commissioned officer Sherwood, who was given the title of Sherwood-Faithful (although everyone called him Sherwood the Nasty). So among the vast number of people there were no traitors. Then there were other times. Not everything was bought for money. The concept of honor was treated differently. The honor of the officer and nobleman cost a lot.
The second point, the Union of Welfare society, dismissed itself absolutely in accordance with the activities of the Masonic lodges: when the lodge exhausts the purpose of its existence, it declares itself to be dissolved. "Union" existed only on paper, it was only an idea, "wrote Orlov, one of its founders.
Well what were they to do? Again, gather and proclaim speech? But they didn’t want to do some real things, others couldn’t. It was not an organizational restructuring in the current sense of the word, but simply a part of people, for example, made a career. The piece just got older and treated it like the toys of youth. It is known who was not a revolutionary at the age of 20, he has no soul, and who at 40 remains a revolutionary - he has no mind. People grew up and refused to overly radical views. They departed from any activity, left for their estates and lost contact with society. “And they forgot about him in the light,” wrote Bestuzhev-Marlinsky, the Decembrist himself. This, too, must be borne in mind. Therefore, it was an act of such recognition that the “Union” did not fulfill its tasks.
The term "Decembrist" then no one knew. These were societies, unions that wanted the good of Russia, but did not know how to do it. There was nothing like a single organization. The conspiracy cobweb existed only in the scammers' fervid imagination.
This seems strange, for Pestel, for example, was a very practical man, a good commander, demanding of himself and his subordinates. But he did not want to expand the organization. He conceived a palace coup. The Decembrists wanted to speak (those whom we now call the Decembrists) in July 1826. But Alexander suddenly died. "He spent his whole life on the road, and died in Taganrog." And this death confused all their cards. They did not have time to agree among themselves on how to be, how to use this favorable moment. It seems that Konstantin should rule (they did not know about renunciation) ... They wanted to somehow force Nicholas to renounce, to seize power at this moment, to put the Provisional Committee of Revolutionary Salvation - a complete copy of the French realities of the times of revolution. This is how Pestel plotted. He did not think at all to distribute the organization throughout Russia.
Interestingly, and the Russian Masons-Decembrists did not scare the result of the French Revolution? As you know, it ended with the accession of Napoleon. Pestelya suited it perfectly. Who saw Ryleev himself, it is difficult to say. Maybe Danton, but without a guillotine. Generally, people who start a revolution, because they do not see themselves on the chopping block or in prison. They see themselves on top of popular triumph. Who makes a revolution usually? This is either fanatics, which were among the Decembrists too, or people who have not found themselves in life, that is, human zeros outside their organization, or people who are absolutely marginal, “bottom”, “scum”, as Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky wrote, and then Vasily Osipovich Klyuchevsky.
"And in every revolution," wrote Klyuchevsky, "there is a bet on the scum." And the call bastards to action. And then this bastard turns heads necessarily clean fanatics, romantics, idealists. But they do not think about it at the beginning. But it did not work out this way, because Sukhozanet shot these unfortunate soldiers who did not know why they were rebelling.
"What? They didn’t even explain this to them? ”You ask. No, they were deceived by Ryleev, who nasuskal officers, explained that the soldiers must be told that the true heir to the throne in chains, Mikhail Pavlovich, the regimental chief, who was very fond of, was another son of Paul. And they shouted: "Constantine!" The Constitution! ”, Thinking that the Constitution is the wife of Constantine. And they demanded that the legitimate masters reign, and the mean usurper would give the throne. And there was nothing like that. Nicholas did not want to shed blood, only to dispel the rebellious. Horse attack. They got out. Guards regiments ... And only in the evening, when he did not know what to do, he was forced to use artillery. And then it was all over.
There were plenty of opportunities to seize the Winter Palace, the Senate and the Synod, arrest Nicholas and kill him. The Decembrists did not take advantage of any opportunity. Yes, and the main leaders were not there: Trubetskoy did not come, Pestel was in the south, and Ryleev, he had a sore throat, decided that it was impossible to go sick in December’s cold. But Kakhovsky, a hysterical fellow, who killed Colonel Styurler, the hero of Borodino, killed Miloradovich, the universal favorite, came.
It is believed that if in St. Petersburg there was Metropolitan Philaret, who was then in Moscow, perhaps the soldiers would have diverged. But Metropolitan Seraphim of St. Petersburg did not have even a tenth of Philaret eloquence, he did not persuade them. Not persuaded them and the officers. Miloradovich was the last card, because many soldiers remembered him on European campaigns. He told them: “I myself would like Konstantin to be a king, but I saw his renunciation. Guys! You were with me near Borodino, Leipzig. Don't you remember me? ”And at that moment the hesitation began in the mass of soldiers, and Kakhovsky killed him.
I wonder why the other Masons in the army did not support the Decembrists? The riot was able to knock down two regiments and a naval guards crew. And that's all. As for the rest of the Masons in the army, some took the revolt with horror, because it was a direct violation of the oath, and they could not accept this. Others were frightened. It was like that. It's one thing to talk, and another thing is to go out with a weapon against a legitimate sovereign, against his soldiers. And finally, the third part - they just did not know. Then, because the news spread more slowly, so about any support speech could not go.
It was necessary or to act very quickly (this is to the question: “What would have happened?”). If they very quickly seized the Senate, the Synod, the palace, arrested, if not killed, Nicholas and the royal family, they could become the masters of the situation and put forward conditions, up to ultimatums. But standing in the square, they doomed themselves to defeat and subsequently to death.
I wonder what the consequences of the Masons after the failure of the Decembrist uprising? Oddly enough, but no terrible consequences followed for them. Nikolai was a sensible man. In general, his image, where he is depicted as a blunt boot, is very demonized and distorted in Soviet historiography. Yes, he was a man of the Feldwebel warehouse, Herzen correctly wrote about this, but he was very sensible and very practical. The word "hated" does not suit him at all, but he simply did not experience strong passions. Nicholas trusted or not. Masons he trusted. His favorites, Leonty Dubbelt, St. Petersburg police chief, Alexander Khristoforovich Benkendorf, chief of gendarmes, secret police, were freemasons. Nikolai trusted Speransky, Pryanishnikov, Metropolitan Philaret, so the link between the Decembrists and the Freemasons, which the haters of the “brothers” then tried to artificially establish, was dismissed.
By the way, when the investigation went on, did they use any Masonic archives when searching for documents confirming the guilt of certain Decembrists? Of course. First, in 1822, when Alexander banned the lodges, he also collected receipts from all service people that they did not belong to any secret societies. But then there were not so many secret and secret ones, and the Masonic organizations were obvious. And on this basis, many refused to give such receipts. Many officials even chartered letters or masonic patents, on parchment, with seals, hung on the walls.
They saw nothing wrong or shameful about it. But when the investigation went, a curious thing came to light - none of the masons, even those who came out of the boxes, destroyed any masonic relics: no signs, no seals, no coats, no squares, no swords. They treated these things as sacred. Of course they hid something. For example, the famous books of “The Chapter of the Phoenix” - one of the most closed and secret Masonic organizations that existed since the end of the XVIII century. These books, as well as lists of some secret Masonic orders, were not taken into the hands of the police, and then, apparently, were sent abroad. Some of them have now been acquired, and some are still arriving under a bushel. So the police managed not to find everything.
Well, and the wives of the Decembrists, who followed their husbands into exile, how did they perceive freemasonry? Most likely, not all of them knew about the "brotherhood". Recall that women in the Masons did not accept, but they could be the mistress of the salons, where they were going to "brothers."
For example, Volkonsky's wife was a very young girl at the moment when Volkonsky, the brilliant groom, had joined her. And Trubetskoy's wife, Laval, born French ... Her father, Trubetskoy's father-in-law, exclaimed the famous phrase: “What a destiny! To run away from the French Revolution and from the Austrian temporary worker, to pass off my daughter as a Russian conspirator! ”There is much to be said about. Here she was older and, most likely, knew about her husband's hobbies, because she was equal with him both intellectually and spiritually.
Whether Volkonsky shared with his young wife is unknown. Ryleev's wife categorically did not approve of either his Masonic or his Decembrist activities. Она все время выходила к нему (Наташей ее знали) с Настенькой, с их дочкой, заклинала их перед иконой, все это собрание. Он не знал, куда глаза деть. «Наташенька! Выйди, дорогая!» Рылеев любил и жену, но он любил и свое, как он понимал, общественное служение. В общественной жизни он был полный лжец, а в частной - человек исключительной морали, великолепный семьянин, любящий отец и муж.
I wonder when the Decembrists got into exile, didn't they create any Masonic societies there? In Siberia, the Masonic school was already there, there were lodges. In Irkutsk, for example, a small town, but the key for Eastern Siberia, was the so-called Comt Lodge. And the Irkutsk masons gave the Decembrists an enthusiastic meeting, met them at the Moscow gate with bread and salt, visited them. They raised money for bribes to the incorruptible prison wardens, doing everything to ensure that the lives of the exiled Freemason Decembrists themselves and their wives afterwards were as comfortable as possible. In this regard, the Masonic brotherhood was manifested very clearly and visible. It also appeared in such a journalistic controversy. Tyutchev wrote very condemning Decembrists verses, in which there are such lines:
The people, alien to the treachery,
Brings your names ...
Alexander Sergeevich, who did not like Tyutchev, and argued with him all his life, wrote to spite him:
Comrade, believe: she will ascend
Star of captivating happiness,
Russia will shake from sleep,
And on the wreckage of autocracy
Write our names!
Summing up, we once again note that it is impossible to put an equal sign between Decembrists and Freemasons, although there were many Freemasons among the leaders of the Decembrist movement, various secret societies and unions. Among the executed Decembrists, five, three were masons - Pestel, Ryleyev and Ants-Apostol. But the connection of the Decembrists and Masons is much more complex and mediated than it sometimes seems. This connection is manifested not so much in concrete appeals as in the preparation of a worldview, in the preparation of republican ideas, in the preparation of dreams of a constitution, of freedom, of those times when "Russia will turn its back on sleep." In this regard, the influence of Freemasonry on the Decembrist movement and the Decembrist documents undoubtedly. But not all masons were Decembrists.
Among the leaders of the Decembrists masons were. And such unpleasant figures as Pestel and Ryleyev (you cannot throw out words from a song), and figures that are much more attractive, like Muravyov-Apostol or Nikita Muravyev, Alexander Muravyev, such as Glinka, Kyuhelbeker, Pushchin (all Pushkin friends), like Shakhovskaya Trubetskoy are people who are much more significant for the Decembrist movement than the five executed. Therefore, to study their heritage is definitely worth it.