Peter the Great and Alexander I: Double portrait in the European interior
Authors: Dmitrii А. Redin, Мarie-Pierre Rey
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The two official visits to Paris made by Russian sovereigns, the first one by Peter I in Spring 1717 and the second one by Alexander I in Spring 1814, have been significant events for the history of Russian-French relations and for European history in general. Each of these trips generated an extensive literature and the circumstances, the origins, the goals, and outcomes of the sovereigns’ stay in the French capital are very well documented. The authors proposed to analyze these trips in a comparative and diachronic way, considering that despite their differences in terms of cultural and political contexts, this approach is relevant. Indeed, the article aims at showing that the visits had a common impact: they contributed to reform stereotypes about Russia and Russians in the eyes of French elites and public opinion, and beyond, in European public opinion. During their trips, convincingly demonstrating that Russia belongs to the European space, the two monarchs significantly transformed the perception of their country, so far perceived as a barbaric, tyrannical and potentially dangerous country for Europe. However, at the same time, the authors conclude that the deconstruction of old stereotypes did not lead to their complete eradication. As a result, in European public opinion, emerged a «dual perception» of Russia that is a negative one, going back to late medieval tradition, and a more positive one, associated with the recognition of its belonging to the modern European cultural space.