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What is perhaps more important, the desire of the ruler when expressed by his subordinates could have the same effect. The tsar could make the recommendation of a subordinate law by issuing an imperial command (vysochaishchee povelenie). 3 Alexander’s reign was no exception to this general description. His refusal to recognize limits on his power—even those he had made himself by issuing decrees—made the efforts of his subordinates to function efficiently (and without incurring his wrath) difficult.
He feared that Russia might find herself committed to a war with Austria against the rebels supported by France and possibly the smaller German states. Neither the European situation nor the Russian domestic situation in the years immediately following the Vienna settlement was sufficiently stable to convince Alexander to reduce the size of the army drastically. Nor would he bring himself after 1816 to address the problems of military administration that helped to drain the treasury. The military administration was incomplete, inefficient, and functioned largely by custom rather than by law, for the War Ministry had never received its Charge, while the field administration had been established by simply codifying (to a very limited extent) practices that had become common in wartime.
46 The Establishment for the Administration of the Large Active Army endowed Russia’s fighting forces with this advantage, but in a manner again reminiscent of the later development of the German General Staff. 50 By these regulations the Establishment for the Administration of the Large Active Army aimed to create a “general staff ” consisting of all of the staff officers of division, corps, and army staffs that was not only the machine, “with the help of which the power of the CINC, of Corps and Division Chiefs, is brought into action in all details by rapid and precise execution,”51 but was also a unified body that provided means of checking on commanders and of providing information 22 The Military Reforms of Nicholas I to the central staffs in greater detail than the commanders were likely to see fit to forward.