The first years of Alexander's I reign were marked by a remarkable revival of the public life. Actual questions of the internal and foreign policy of the state were discussed in scientific and literary societies, student and teacher's circles, in high society and Masonic lodges. The attitude towards the French revolution, serfdom and autocracy were in the center of public attention.
Permission for private printing houses, import of books from abroad, and the acceptance of the new censorial regulations (1804) had a significant effect on further dissemination of ideas of the European Enlightenment in Russia. Enlightening tasks were set before I.P.Pnin, V.V. Popugayev, A.Kh. Vostokov, A.P.Kunitsyn, who created in St. Petersburg the Free society of amateurs of literature, sciences and arts (1801-1825). Being under the influence of Radishev's ideas, they translated works of Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu, they published articles and literary works.
The majority of Russian enlighteners considered necessary to reform the autocratic system and to cancel the serfdom. However they were only a small part of the society.
The basic mass of the nobility and officials was conservative. Views of the conservative majority were shown in "Note about ancient and new Russia" of N.M.Karamzin (1811).
The Patriotic war of 1812 and the campaigns of the Russian army played a decisive role in the development of the national morale. Under the influence of external events of 1812-1815 the country experienced a great patriotic raising; hopes for great reforms revived in people, who waited for better life but never succeeded. First disappointed were the peasants. Heroes of the war, saviors of Motherland, they came back home and again got under landowners' yoke. They hoped to receive freedom, but from the royal manifest on the occasion of the victory over Napoleon (1814) they heard: "Peasants, our loyal people, you will receive your recompense from God".
The disappointment of people about their hopes resulted in the peasant revolts, the number of which sharply increased after the war. During the quarter of the century there were about 280 revolts, and approximately 2/3 of them happened in 1813-1820. The discontent grew in the army too, formed of recruited peasants. No less than 15 open riots of soldiers took place during 1816-1825. The rebellion of the oldest guards Semenovsky regiment, commanded by the Emperor himself, was an unheard event in the imperial army. In October 1820 soldiers of the regiment, driven to despair by severe oppression of their commander F.E.Schwarz, lodged a complaint against him and refused to obey officers. According to Alexander's I personal instruction, nine of the "most guilty" were made run the gantlet and exiled to Siberia, the regiment was disbanded.
Intensification of the conservative principles in Alexander's I internal policy vented itself in Arakcheyev's regime and return of Russia to its traditional image of the Christian power. Religious dogmas and autocracy tried to stop the influence of revolutionary ideas of the West and their dissemination in Russia. The Emperor's personal opinions also played a great role in this case. The fact that the State Council, the Senate and the Synod gave Alexander I the title of Blessed is rather significant too. After 1815 the Emperor and later a
significant part of the society were more and more dipped into religious and mystical moods. The original manifestation of this phenomenon in the public life of Russia during the post-war period was the activity of the Bible society created at the end of 1812 and by 1816 received a officious character.
Its president, the chief of the foreign creeds' religious affairs, and later the minister of religious affairs and national Enlightenment A.N.Golitsyn, played a great role in the activity of the Bible society. The basic goal of the society was the translation, edition and distribution of the Bible among the population. From 1813 till 1823 in Russia were distributed more than 500 copies of the Bible and the New Testament in more than 40 languages, in 1821 by efforts of the
society for the first time was issued the New Testament in the Russian language. However, among members of the society, basically aristocrats, ideas of mysticism were widely propagated. Golitsyn promoted the edition and distribution of books of mystical content, protected various mystical sects, acted for unification of Christian creeds. All this displeased many hierarchs. In May 1824 prince Golitsyn was disgraced, Alexander I grew cool towards the society and in April 1826 it was liquidated.