Paul’s Great Game: The Tsarist Plot to Invade British India
- David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Professor of Russian history at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
- Thursday 22 February 2018
2311 BD Leiden
Paul’s Great Game
The lecture examines Paul I’s ill-fated expedition to India of 1801. It describes the preparations and execution of Ataman Orlov-Denisov’s mission in January of that year in the context of the Napoleonic Wars, as well as previous French schemes to conquer the subcontinent. Historians have described Paul’s scheme as “vaguely prepared and ill-conceived,” and “a wild adventure.” What did Russians know about the lands that separated Russia’s steppe frontier from British India at the turn of the nineteenth century? I address this question with a brief discussion of the state of military Orientology at the time. At the same time, I consider the place of India in Russian geopolitical thought in Catherinian and Pauline Russia.
About David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye
David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye is Professor of Russian history at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His research interests focus on 18th- and 19th-century Russian cultural, intellectual, diplomatic and military history. Schimmelpenninck is the author of, among other, Toward the Rising Sun: Russian Ideologies of Empire and the Path to War with Japan (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2001) and Russian Orientalism: Asia in the Russian Mind from Peter the Great to the Emigration (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010). Schimmelpenninck is currently writing a book about tsarist expansion into Central Asia, “Russia’s Great Game: The Struggle for Primacy in Central Asia.” He is also coediting a volume on “The International History of Russia’s Great War” for the Russia’s Great War and Revolution series.