Historian Richard Wortman has breached this historiographic gap in his work on the upbringing of the nineteenth-century Russian tsars, illuminating the link between the way these men were brought up and the way the autocracy functioned in its last century. Wortman identifies Nicholas I as the initiator of the form of child-rearing that dominated this era.
In this essay, I compare the upbringings of Alexander I, Constantine Pavlovich, Nicholas I and Michael Pavlovich in order to explore the transition period that led Nicholas to make these changes. The transition from the eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries in Russia was also the transition from Catherinian glory to Nicholaien oppression. Thus, I attempt to explain part of reasons why things changed so rapidly and the role the Romanovs played in this change.
By comparing four siblings (two of whom succeeded to the throne), I
mitigate somewhat the psycho-historical problem faced in studying
later tsars, where each emperor was the only person in his generation
to experience his particular upbringing, leaving us to wonder how much
of his behavior was influenced by his upbringing, and how much was
simply individual character. Catherine's careful rearing of Alexander
and Constantine and the Gatchina childhoods of Nicholas and Michael
were instrumental in making them into the men who would later rule
Russia at a critical period of transition.