March 01, 2020

The Case Against Foreign Lit

The Case Against Foreign Lit
Tsar Paul I

On April 18, 1800, one year before his death at the hands of conspirators, Emperor Paul I issued the following decree:

As various books being brought from abroad have served to pervert faith, civil laws, and proper behavior, henceforth, until otherwise ordered, we command that the admittance of any sort of book into our state, whatever language it may be in, be prohibited, as well as music.

The French revolution was over, but the Russian emperor understood that its ideas lived on. He was terrified of the West’s “pernicious influence,” and he had banned not only foreign books, but all foreign music, lest his subjects start singing “La Marseillaise.”

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