To remedy the flawed, conventional depiction of Alexander I
that has accumulated and rigidified through successive biographical interpretations, MariePierre Rey returned to memoirs by Alexander's contemporaries and to the Russian archives, where she discovered rich material in the emperor's correspondence with family members.
Under Catherine 73.3 percent had clerical origins, under Paul 77.8 percent, during Alexander I
's reign 91.7 percent, followed by 95.9 percent, 93.4 percent, 96.3 percent, and 79.4 percent under Nicholas I, Alexander II, Alexander III, and Nicholas II respectively.
The 'Golden Age of the Russian Duel' dawned with the liberation of Alexander I
's early reign, the 1812-15 campaign that took young Russians to Paris and the contact with the duelling dandies of Regency England.
Thereafter the author clarifies in broad terms the period of enlightened despotism that started with Peter the Great's westernization drive, followed, after a brief interlude, by Catherine the Great's reign, and concluded with young Alexander I
's apogee, right up to the Congress of Vienna.
Catherine arrived in a Russia only three years ruled by Tsar Alexander I
. It was a nation at war - with Persia, then Turkey, over the annexation of Georgia, with Sweden over Finnish annexation and with France in 1805 as a prelude to Napoleon's invasion of 1812.
Meanwhile, Napoleon, to keep Alexander I
of Russia pliable, gave him a free hand in Finland, which was part of the Swedish dominions.
(3) Fernando Sor, a Barcelona-born composer for the classical guitar, spent several years in Russia at the end of Alexander I
's reign, and his Souvenir de Russie counts among his notable works.