Go to the square at the appointed time
On November 10, 1825, Prince Sergei Petrovich Trubetskoy came to St. Petersburg on vacation from Kiev, where he served for almost a year. In the capital, he received the news of the death of Alexander I and the resulting excitement among liberal oppositionists.
The presence at the height of the political crisis in St. Petersburg of a long-standing and authoritative participant in the Decembrist associations, which was Trubetskoy, who was also an experienced and well-known military officer, could be considered a real gift for the opponents of the autocracy. It is logical that Trubetskoy immediately becomes one of the key figures among the conspirators and is responsible for planning a military coup.
Sergey Trubetskoy, failed dictator
Obviously, the head of the Northern Society, Kondraty Ryleev, at first in every way welcomed and supported the prince. But then his tactical schemes began to constrain the ardent poetic imagination of the leader of the "northerners." And the closer to the beginning of the performance, the more obvious Ryleyev acts to bypass Trubetskoy and his proposals, put forward his proteges Yakubovich and Bulatov in the first roles and give them direct instructions.
On the afternoon of the 13th, Ryleyev suggested that Bulatov be in the grenadier barracks at seven o’clock. He later informed the colonel that the gathering was set for eight in the morning on December 14th. It is characteristic that during the aforementioned conversation on the morning of December 14 at Ryleyev’s apartment, Ivan Pushchin asked the colonel: “How many [troops] do you need?” And he received the answer: "As much as Ryleyev promised."
The head of the Northern Society and the Colonel clearly have an individual agreement, the content of which remains unclear to others. The whole role of Bulatov, so brilliantly failed by him, was written from beginning to end by Kondraty Ivanovich and remained unknown to both Trubetskoy and even Obolensky. And Trubetskoy is silent about the tasks of Yakubovich and Bulatov not out of caution, but for the simple reason that he almost did not intersect with these personalities and did not know what instructions they received.
Meanwhile, Ryleyev gives orders not only to his confidants, but also to the "company commanders." So, on December 12, Ryleyev at a meeting near Obolensky — in the absence of Trubetskoy — “decisively announced” to the fellow practitioners that “they have gathered now in order to honestly promise to be in the square on the day of the oath with the number of troops that anyone can bring otherwise, be in the square yourself. ” That is, the whole tactical scheme comes down to gathering at the Senate - when it will work out and with whom it will work out.
Lieutenant of the Finland Regiment Andrei Rosen reported in his memoirs:
“On December 12, in the evening, I was invited to a meeting with Ryleyev ... there I found the main participants on December 14. It was decided on the day appointed for the new oath to gather on Senate Square, to lead troops there as much as possible under the pretext of maintaining the rights of Constantine, to entrust the command of the army to Prince Trubetskoy ... "
Obolensky, obviously, took all these instructions as a kind of preliminary version and in the afternoon of the 13th directly asked Ryleyev “what plan”, to which he replied that the plan would inform Trubetskoy (when, in the square?), But it was necessary to collect from the Senate with that company which will come first. So, there were several hours left before the coup, and the chief of staff did not know the procedure, and Ryleyev, referring to Trubetskoy for the sake of reason, nevertheless reiterates that the point of their speech is to gather in the square.
But then evening comes. Nikolai Bestuzhev says in his memoirs:
“At 10 o’clock Ryleyev arrived with Pushchin and announced to us what was supposed to be at the meeting that tomorrow, when taking the oath, he should raise the troops for which there is hope, and no matter how small the forces with which they will enter the square, go with them immediately to the palace. "
How to understand this: it doesn’t matter how much strength is gathered, but “immediately” to the palace ...
And here is what Peter Kakhovsky reports on the evening of December 13:
“Ryleyev said when I asked him about the order, what should be seen before our forces and that Trubetskoy would control everything on Petrovskaya Square. It was supposed to occupy the Senate, the fortress, but to whom exactly, it was not appointed. ”
Before the start of the coup, nothing remains, but from the specifics, again, only the gathering from the Senate, everything else is in the fog. And nothing about going to the palace.
Midnight is approaching, but there is no plan ...
The situation is more than strange, isn't it? And it arose largely due to the isolation, or rather, the self-isolation of Trubetskoy. According to the testimony of the prince, upon arrival from Kiev, he began to collect information about the state of minds in the regiments and the number of members of society itself.
The results did not inspire optimism: "... the arrangement of minds does not give hope for the success of execution, and society consists of the most insignificant persons." It is not surprising that, for example, Kakhovsky never heard Trubetskoy saying: "He, Prince Obolensky, Prince Odoevsky, Nikolai Bestuzhev, Pushchin always locked themselves with Ryleyev."
The cautious prince considered it unnecessary to discuss the details of a future speech with a bunch of “insignificant persons”, limiting his communication to a narrow circle of leaders. Adherence to conspiracy played a cruel joke with Trubetskoy. For most of the coup’s participants, the “dictator” remained an authoritative but unfamiliar figure, whose intentions, as well as their disagreements with other leaders, were unknown to them.
Ryleyev took advantage of this, who, on the contrary, had close contact with all the characters of the future drama and could freely pass off his ideas as “Trubetskoy’s plan”. To summarize, let’s try to identify the main differences in the approaches of the two leaders of the coup.
- The capture of the Senate at the time of the oath of senators. The security of the building was only 35 people, so a small strike group was enough to solve the problem.
- The approach of the Life Guards and the Finnish Regiment to Petrovskaya Square for protection, which went over to the side of the Senate rebellion.
- Nomination towards the Winter Palace of the Guards crew, Izmailovsky and Moscow regiments. The capture of the building and the capture of Nicholas for further trial.
- Refusal to intervene in the oath of senators.
- Operation in the Winter Palace by the forces of the Guards crew and / or life guards to kill Nikolai. With the same task, a solitary killer Kakhovsky was detached in Palace Square.
- Collection of all the rebel units on Petrovskaya Square.
In the latter version, the troops in the square were needed more for a beautiful picture - a ceremonial parade to commemorate the victory of freedom, equality and brotherhood over tyranny. And the Senate Square was chosen, first of all, not from practical, but from symbolic considerations: it was here that the Senate, under the exulting cries of those gathered, was to proclaim the abolition of the previous rule and the advent of a new era in the life of Russia.
Ryleyev was far from being a stupid man, but his rich imagination clearly overtook logic, and what he desired easily replaced reality. Perhaps at some point he decided: the more complex the plan, the more difficult it is to implement. However, Kondraty Ivanovich simplified the coup plan to such an extent that in the end its outcome began to depend on one shot, which was supposed to be made by Peter Kakhovsky.
Ryleev, perhaps, was right in his own way in the sense that the murder of the Grand Duke at once solved all the problems. Therefore, the Guards crew with Yakubovich and the Life Guards with Bulatov were detached to capture the palace and "neutralize" Nicholas. Obviously, the two units had to act independently, insuring each other, since their coordination was virtually impossible. And in case of their failure, the new emperor was waiting for Kakhovsky.
And here we come to such an important aspect of the preparation of the coup as the selection and placement of personnel. Here, the organizational abilities of Kondraty Ivanovich revealed most clearly. All his creations (Kakhovsky, Yakubovich, Bulatov), despite the obvious differences, were similar in one: all these people, as it were determined by psychiatrists, were in a state of extreme emotional instability. Along with the instability of mood, it is characterized by a pronounced tendency to act impulsively, without taking into account the consequences, as well as a minimal ability to plan.
Kakhovsky - an embittered loser, without connections and relatives, driven out of the army for laziness and immoral behavior, then he was restored, served as lieutenant, but resigned due to illness, although, apparently, it was a sin to complain about his physical health.
As a result, the comrades-in-arms of the Northern Society themselves gave Kakhovsky the following characteristic: “The Smolensk landowner, having lost and gone broke in the game, he came to Petersburg in the hope of marrying a rich bride; the matter was not given to him. Aligning with Ryleyev, he surrendered to him and society unconditionally. Ryleyev and other comrades kept him in St. Petersburg at his own expense. ” “A man, somewhat distressed, lonely, gloomy, ready for doom; in a word, Kakhovsky ”(as described by his Decembrist Vladimir Shteyngel).
Bulatov is a man broken by the death of his beloved wife, on whose grave he built a temple, spending almost all his money on it. And if the colonel’s condition can be described as a break, then the leitmotif of Yakubovich’s behavior is a break. His personal courage did not prevent him from remaining in the memory of his contemporaries as a shame and a fanfare.
Such natures, obviously, corresponded to Ryleyev’s romantic mindset, however, they were completely unused for a responsible business. Nevertheless, it was this trio in Ryleev’s view that was to play a decisive role in the putsch.
The scene turned out to be very remarkable, witnessed by several conspirators on December 13. Ryleyev, embracing Kakhovsky, said: "My dear friend, you are a sire on this earth, I know your selflessness, you can be more useful than in the square - destroy the tsar."
"Engineer of human souls" found the right words. After them, the future regicide felt not a paladin of freedom and a tyrant, but a technical performer, an orphan, to whom rich friends unequivocally reminded of the need to work out the bread fed to him. It is not surprising that after such an instruction, the “killer” was not eager to fulfill the task.
Around six o'clock in the morning on December 14, Kakhovsky came to Alexander Bestuzhev, who described this scene as follows: "Is Ryleyev sending you to Palace Square?" - I said. He replied: "Yes, but I do not want something." “And do not go,” I objected, “this is not at all necessary.” - "But what will Ryleyev say?" - "I take it upon myself; be with everyone on Petrovskaya Square."
Kakhovsky was still with Bestuzhev when Yakubovich came and said that he refused to take the palace, “anticipating that he could not do without blood ...” At that time, senators were already gathering for the oath, and Colonel Bulatov, instead of going to the guards, prayed for the repose of the soul of his wife and the future of young daughters.
Dictator or zits-chairman?
Actually, at 6 o’clock in the morning the coup, as Ryleyev intended it, was already impossible. Now the coup could be helped either by a fluke or the fatal mistake of their opponents. But fortune to the Decembrists did not smile, and Nikolai acted decisively and promptly.
The general assembly appointed by Ryleev at the Senate, turning into an end in itself, deprived the rebels of the initiative, it inexorably passed to the pro-government forces. At first, no one opposed the Moscow regiment, which was the first to enter the square. But this rather formidable force (800 bayonets) froze in anticipation. As a result, in the evening against 3000 rebels, there were 12000 government troops, and even with artillery.
The actions of the Life Guards under the command of Lieutenant Nikolai Panov, who were the last to join the rebels, are very indicative. Rota Panova spoke after a gunfire was heard in the city center. Obviously, the lieutenant decided that a decisive battle had begun, and, unlike the fellow soldier Alexander Sutgof, who spoke earlier, he went not directly to the Senate, but to Zimny, believing that the main forces of the putschists began the battle for the palace.
Panov’s soldiers even entered the Zimny’s courtyard, but, faced with loyal sappers, turned to the Senate. Panov cannot be denied decisiveness, his company entered the battle twice, but the installation to join the rest of the forces dominated him. Not having caught them at the Winter Palace, the lieutenant acted, like all the others, finding himself trapped on Senate Square.
But back at the start of the day, December 14th. At 7 o'clock in the morning Trubetskoy came to Ryleyev, however, as the prince told the investigation, “I was not in that spirit to question, Ryleyev also didn’t want to talk.” At 10 a.m. Ryleyev and Pushchin had already arrived at Trubetskoy on Promenade des Anglais, but the conversation failed again, the landlord only let the guests read the Manifesto on the accession of Nicholas to the throne.
An amazing picture: the speech began, and its leaders have nothing to say to each other! Of course, the prince is dark: the conversations were and probably had a stormy character. But Trubetskoy understood that if he hinted at a disagreement between him and Ryleyev, let alone at the conflict, he would give the investigators a thread, pulling which they would pull out the ins and outs.
On the morning of the 14th, Trubetskoy had something to infuriate: he was put on a fool, as they say, in full. His plan was replaced by Senate collection instructions. The colonel clearly recognized not only that the coup was already doomed to failure, but that he, as a “dictator,” might be the main culprit for the defeat for his supporters and (which is absolutely certain) would be the main accused for the opponents.
The investigation materials confirm these guesses of the prince. During interrogations, Ryleyev, with a blue eye, claimed that everything depended on Trubetskoy, and he himself could not give any instructions.
Here are his testimonies:
"Trubetskoy was already our sovereign boss; he either through me or through Obolensky made orders. Colonel Bulatov and captain Yakubovich should have appeared in his allowance on the square. The latter - at his own request, Trubetskoy, who had heard about his courage before and therefore, a few days before the 14th, he asked me to introduce Yakubovich personally to him, which was done. "
Colonel Bulatov, according to Ryleyev, also wanted to get acquainted with the dictator, before making final decisions, “with whom,” says Ryleyev, “I brought him together.” He also assured that on the evening of December 12, Trubetskoy, Bulatov, Yakubovich "talked about a plan of action."
Ryleyev, who personally gave the most important orders, not only hides behind Trubetskoy’s back, but also tries in every possible way to “tighten” Yakubovich and Bulatov to him. Just as meanly, the head of the Northern Society tried to hide his participation in the plans for regicide, shifting the initiative to the "sire" of Kakhovsky.
It is clear that if Trubetskoy appeared in the square, he would hang out on him on the gallows along with other most dangerous villains. Fully aware of such a prospect, if not the first, then the second meeting in the morning of the 14th, Trubetskoy firmly decided not to enter any square.
The farewell remark addressed to the colonel by Ivan Pushchin (“... however, if anything happens, you will come to us”) even in Trubetskoy’s dry retelling sounds ingratiating. The embarrassed Pushchin clearly understood what was going on in the soul of the prince. However, as Trubetskoy admitted during the investigation, he didn’t have the spirit "just to say no." He also did not have the courage to move away from the epicenter of events, from which he refused to participate.
The role of the prince, although outwardly looked contradictory and inconsistent, did not cause condemnation of associates. The son of the Decembrist Ivan Yakushkin wrote the following about Trubetskoy:
“His behavior on December 14, which is not entirely clear to us, did not raise any charges against Trubetskoy among his comrades. Among the Decembrists and after December 14, Trubetskoy retained a common love and respect; "the failure of the uprising depended not on the fallacy of Trubetskoy’s actions on that day."
Nevertheless, most pre-revolutionary, Soviet, and modern historians judge the “dictator” much more strictly. And there are obvious reasons for this. A rare bastard, the short-sighted, but ambitious leader of the "northerners" Kondraty Ivanovich Ryleyev, falling into the category of sacred victims of autocracy and martyrs in the name of freedom, found himself outside the zone of criticism or at least an unbiased assessment of his activities in organizing the uprising.
Trubetskoy, on the other hand, turned out to be a very convenient candidate for the role of the culprit in the defeat of the putschists, anti-hero and antagonist of the fiery revolutionary Ryleev.
We hope that our notes will help to more objectively assess the relationship between the main leaders of the insurrection on December 14, 1825 and their influence on the course of the uprising.