Alexandre Ier, Napoléon et les relations franco-russes
Educated in the spirit of the Enlightenment, upon his accession to the throne in March 1801, Alexander I, intending to reform his empire, gave priority to domestic issues; but very quickly, foreign policy came to dominate the agenda, and his duel with Napoleon wholly absorbed his energies. Because of the ambivalence of the Tilsit alliance, Russian-French relations continuously deteriorated after 1807, leading to the 1812 tragedy. Vanquisher of Napoleon, the tsar who has been transformed by the ordeal (he became religious), became anxious to rebuild the European continent on a new basis. This explains the personal role he played during the Vienna Congress and the project of Holy Alliance that he encouraged. But by 1820-21, Alexander became more and more paranoiac in his political views and the Holy Alliance has been transformed into a tool to repress liberal ideas in the service of conservative regimes.