History of Russia – Part 1

European Russia

was occupied by Indo-European and Ural-Altaic peoples from about the 2d millennium BC. Among the peoples present in the steppe north of the Black Sea were the CIMMERIANS. They were conquered by the SCYTHIANS in the 7th century BC. The Scythians in turn were largely displaced by the SARMATIANS in the 3d century BC.

In the early centuries AD a succession of tribes, the GOTHS, the HUNS, and the AVARS, ruled the area. The KHAZARS (7th century) and the Bulgars (8th century) established substantial states. Slavic settlements in the area are documented from the 6th century on.

Mideval Russia

The SLAVS probably came from southern Poland and the Baltic shore and settled in the region of mixed forest and meadowlands north of the fertile but unprotected steppe lands of the south. The Slavs engaged in agriculture, hunting, and fishing and gathered products of the forest.

They settled beside the rivers and lakes along the water route that was used by VIKING warrior-traders (the Varangians) to reach Constantinople. Using their superior military and organizational skills, the Varangians exacted tribute from the Slavs and to this end consolidated their rule in key points on the route to Constantinople.

About 862 a group of Varangians led by RURIK took control of NOVGOROD. From there Rurik moved south and established (879) his authority in KIEV, strategically located above the Dnepr rapids where the open steppe met with the belt of Slavic settlements in the forest-meadow region.

Kievan Russia

Under Rurik’s successor, Oleg (d. c.912), Kiev became the center of a federation of strong points controlled by Varangian “dukes” who soon became Slavicized in language and culture. Attempts by Duke SVYATOSLAV I (r. 945-72) to create an “empire” in the region between the Dnepr and Danube failed, but Kiev was effectively protected from nomads in the east by the Khazar state on the Volga.

With the conversion (c.988) of Duke VLADIMIR I to Eastern Christianity, Kiev developed into a major cultural center, with splendid architecture, richly adorned churches, and monasteries that spread Byzantine civilization.

The political and cultural apogee of Kievan Rus’ was reached under YAROSLAV the Wise, who ruled from 1019 to 1054. Politically, Kiev was the center of a federation of principalities tied together by their rulers who claimed to be descendants of Rurik.

The unity of Kievan Rus’ was more of an ideal than a reality (many internal feuds existed), but it served as an inspiration to later generations. The socioeconomic base of this polity has been a subject of controversy; liberal historians have singled out the trading role of the princes and their retinues (druzhina), whereas Soviets historians insisted on the primacy of agriculture and artisinal production.

Probably trade was the mainstay of political power, and agriculture (complemented by hunting and fishing) was the major occupation of the population.

Culturally, Kiev served as the agent of transmission for Byzantine civilization–Orthodox Christianity and its art (music, architecture, and mosaics); it also developed, however, into the creative center of a high-level indigenous culture represented, in literature, by the sermons of Hilarion (d. after 1055) and Vladimir Monomakh (d. 1125); in historiography, by the early-12th-century Primary Chronicle; in law, by Yaroslav’s codification, Pravda; and in monastic life, by Kiev’s 11th-century cave monastery (Lavra). This culture served as the common foundation for the later Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Great Russian civilizations.

The decline of Kievan Rus’ (starting in the late 11th century) was brought about by internecine feuds, by a change in Byzantine trade patterns–which made the old river route obsolete–and by the depopulation resulting from slaughter by nomadic invaders from the east.

The end, however, came swiftly when the MONGOLS, surging forth from Central Asia, overran the South Russian plain. Kiev was sacked in 1240, and the Mongol khans of the GOLDEN HORDE at Sarai on the Volga established their control over most of European Russia for about two centuries.

Under Rurik’s successor, Oleg (d. c.912), Kiev became the center of a federation of strong points controlled by Varangian “dukes” who soon became Slavicized in language and culture.

Attempts by Duke SVYATOSLAV I (r. 945-72) to create an “empire” in the region between the Dnepr and Danube failed, but Kiev was effectively protected from nomads in the east by the Khazar state on the Volga.

With the conversion (c.988) of Duke VLADIMIR I to Eastern Christianity, Kiev developed into a major cultural center, with splendid architecture, richly adorned churches, and monasteries that spread Byzantine civilization.

The political and cultural apogee of Kievan Rus’ was reached under YAROSLAV the Wise, who ruled from 1019 to 1054. Politically, Kiev was the center of a federation of principalities tied together by their rulers who claimed to be descendants of Rurik.

The unity of Kievan Rus’ was more of an ideal than a reality (many internal feuds existed), but it served as an inspiration to later generations. The socioeconomic base of this polity has been a subject of controversy; liberal historians have singled out the trading role of the princes and their retinues (druzhina), whereas Soviets historians insisted on the primacy of agriculture and artisanal production. Probably trade was the mainstay of political power, and agriculture (complemented by hunting and fishing) was the major occupation of the population.

Culturally, Kiev served as the agent of transmission for Byzantine civilization–Orthodox Christianity and its art (music, architecture, and mosaics); it also developed, however, into the creative center of a high-level indigenous culture represented, in literature, by the sermons of Hilarion (d. after 1055) and Vladimir Monomakh (d. 1125); in historiography, by the early-12th-century Primary Chronicle; in law, by Yaroslav’s codification, Pravda; and in monastic life, by Kiev’s 11th-century cave monastery (Lavra). This culture served as the common foundation for the later Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Great Russian civilizations.

The decline of Kievan Rus’ (starting in the late 11th century) was brought about by internecine feuds, by a change in Byzantine trade patterns–which made the old river route obsolete–and by the depopulation resulting from slaughter by nomadic invaders from the east.

The end, however, came swiftly when the MONGOLS, surging forth from Central Asia, overran the South Russian plain. Kiev was sacked in 1240, and the Mongol khans of the GOLDEN HORDE at Sarai on the Volga established their control over most of European Russia for about two centuries.

Mongol Rule

The overlordship of the Mongols¬† proved costly in economic terms, because the initial conquest and subsequent raids to maintain the Russians in obedience were destructive of urban life and severely depleted the population. Equally costly–even to cities that escaped conquest, such as Novgorod–were the tribute payments in silver.

Politically the yoke was not burdensome, for the Mongols ruled indirectly through local princes, and the church was even shown respect and exempted from tribute (enabling it to assume a cultural and national leadership role).

The most deleterious long-lasting effect of Mongol rule was isolation from Byzantium and western Europe, which led to a turning inward that produced an aggressive inferiority complex. The exceptions were the free cities of Novgorod and PSKOV, ruled by oligarchies of merchants (the princes, such as ALEXANDER NEVSKY, were merely hired military leaders) in active contact with the HANSEATIC LEAGUE.

Rise of Moscow

In the shadow of Mongol overlordship and in the harsh environment of central Russia, to which the population had fled from the south, the society and polity of MOSCOW, or Muscovy, developed. Members of the ruling family of Kievan Rus’ had seized free lands in the northeast and colonized them with peasants to whom they offered protection in return for payments in money and kind.

Each one of these princes was full master of his domain, which he administered and defended with the help of his retainers (BOYARS). A semblance of family unity was maintained by the claim of common descent from Rurik and of a “national” consciousness based on the Kievan cultural heritage.

Taking advantage of genealogy, Mongol favor, church support, geographic situation, and wealth, some of the local princes–for example, those of VLADIMIR, YAROSLAVL, Moscow, Suzdal, and Tver–became dominant in their region and gradually forced the weaker rulers (along with their boyars) into their own service.

Of these principalities Moscow gradually emerged as the most powerful. Its ruler Ivan I (Ivan Kalita; r. 1328-41) was granted the title grand duke of Vladimir by the khanate as well as the right to collect tribute for the Mongols from neighboring principalities. His grandson DIMITRY DONSKOI won the first major Russian victory over the Mongols at Kulikovo (1380).

Finally, after victory in a fierce civil war, the elimination of a main rival at Tver (1485), and the winning over of most small independent princes, IVAN III, grand duke of Moscow (r. 1462-1505), emerged as the sole ruler in central Russia.

The Golden Horde had regained control after Kulikovo, but a century later it was seriously weakened by internal strife. In 1480, therefore, Ivan III successfully challenged Mongol overlordship by refusing the tribute.

Moscow’s triumph was not complete, however, because another putative heir to Kiev remained–the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, to whose rule many of the independent princes of the southwest and the large boyar retainers of Belorussia had gravitated.

To the south and east the Muslim successors of the Golden Horde, the khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and the Crimea, were serious threats to Muscovy’s security.

Although Moscow’s annexation of Novgorod (1478) and Pskov (1510) gave it access to the profitable Baltic trade and control over the far-flung colonial lands of the northeast, it also opened the gates to religious and cultural challenges to the spiritual and artistic self-sufficiency and provincialism of central Russia.

A conflict arose between church and state as well as between cultural nativism and innovation; it ended, in the second quarter of the 16th century, in a compromise that reaffirmed and strengthened the political values of Moscow (autocracy) while respecting the economic power and position of the church and liberalizing its cultural life to admit the influences from the Balkans and western Europe.

Yet the strain between those who wanted a spiritualistic church, divested of worldly wealth (the nonpossessors, or Volga Elders), and the possessors, followers of Joseph of Volokolamsk (d. 1515), who wished to retain the church’s wealth and institutional power, continued to affect Muscovite cultural life.

In the shadow of Mongol overlordship and in the harsh environment of central Russia, to which the population had fled from the south, the society and polity of MOSCOW, or Muscovy, developed. Members of the ruling family of Kievan Rus’ had seized free lands in the northeast and colonized them with peasants to whom they offered protection in return for payments in money and kind.

Each one of these princes was full master of his domain, which he administered and defended with the help of his retainers (BOYARS). A semblance of family unity was maintained by the claim of common descent from Rurik and of a “national” consciousness based on the Kievan cultural heritage.

Taking advantage of genealogy, Mongol favor, church support, geographic situation, and wealth, some of the local princes–for example, those of VLADIMIR, YAROSLAVL, Moscow, Suzdal, and Tver–became dominant in their region and gradually forced the weaker rulers (along with their boyars) into their own service. Of these principalities Moscow gradually emerged as the most powerful.

Its ruler Ivan I (Ivan Kalita; r. 1328-41) was granted the title grand duke of Vladimir by the khanate as well as the right to collect tribute for the Mongols from neighboring principalities. His grandson DIMITRY DONSKOI won the first major Russian victory over the Mongols at Kulikovo (1380).

Finally, after victory in a fierce civil war, the elimination of a main rival at Tver (1485), and the winning over of most small independent princes, IVAN III, grand duke of Moscow (r. 1462-1505), emerged as the sole ruler in central Russia. The Golden Horde had regained control after Kulikovo, but a century later it was seriously weakened by internal strife. In 1480, therefore, Ivan III successfully challenged Mongol overlordship by refusing the tribute.

Moscow’s triumph was not complete, however, because another putative heir to Kiev remained–the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, to whose rule many of the independent princes of the southwest and the large boyar retainers of Belorussia had gravitated. To the south and east the Muslim successors of the Golden Horde, the khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and the Crimea, were serious threats to Muscovy’s security.

Although Moscow’s annexation of Novgorod (1478) and Pskov (1510) gave it access to the profitable Baltic trade and control over the far-flung colonial lands of the northeast, it also opened the gates to religious and cultural challenges to the spiritual and artistic self-sufficiency and provincialism of central Russia.

A conflict arose between church and state as well as between cultural nativism and innovation; it ended, in the second quarter of the 16th century, in a compromise that reaffirmed and strengthened the political values of Moscow (autocracy) while respecting the economic power and position of the church and liberalizing its cultural life to admit the influences from the Balkans and western Europe.

Yet the strain between those who wanted a spiritualistic church, divested of worldly wealth (the non-possessors, or Volga Elders), and the possessors, followers of Joseph of Volokolamsk (d. 1515), who wished to retain the church’s wealth and institutional power, continued to affect Muscovite cultural life.

Organization of the Muscovite State

The main political task of the grand dukes of Moscow was the absorption of formerly independent princes and their servitors into the service hierarchy of Moscow. This absorption was achieved by expanding the membership of the boyar council (duma) to include the newcomers.

A system of precedence (mestnichestvo) based on both family status and service position kept the boyar class divided. In addition, from the late 15th century on, the grand duke created a class of military servitors (dvorianstvo) entirely subordinated to him by grants of land on a temporary basis, subject to performance of service.

The peasantry remained outside this system, with village communes taking care of local fiscal and police matters. Towns were under the direct rule of the grand duke’s representatives and enjoyed no municipal freedoms.

The culmination of absolutism was dramatically symbolized by the grandson of Ivan III, IVAN IV (r. 1533-84). Assuming (1547) the title of tsar, he underlined his claim to the succession of both Byzantium and the Golden Horde.

The conquests of the khanates of Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556) followed, putting the entire course of the Volga under Russian control. These conquests initiated further expansion (1581) into Siberia, whose western regions were conquered by the Cossack leader YERMAK TIMOFEYEVICH, sponsored by the Novgorod family of salt merchants, the Stroganovs.

Relying on his absolute power and increased military potential, Ivan IV attempted to eliminate the competition of Lithuania and gain a port on the Baltic. The 25-year war (1558-83) against Poland-Lithuania, Livonia, and Sweden–accompanied by several devastating raids of Crimean Tatars against Moscow (for example, in 1571)–ended in failure and seriously debilitated the country.

To mobilize all resources and cope with internal opposition, Ivan IV set up his own personal guard and territorial administration (oprichnina, 1565-72), whose exactions and oppression did great damage to both the economy and the social stability of the realm.

The combined needs of the military servitor class for labor and of the government for tax-paying peasants led to legislation limiting the mobility of peasants. The edicts of Ivan’s successors (Fyodor I, r. 1584-98, and BORIS GODUNOV, r. 1598-1605) initiated a process that culminated in the complete enserfment of the Russian peasantry (Code of 1649).

The main political task of the grand dukes of Moscow was the absorption of formerly independent princes and their servitors into the service hierarchy of Moscow. This absorption was achieved by expanding the membership of the boyar council (duma) to include the newcomers.

A system of precedence (mestnichestvo) based on both family status and service position kept the boyar class divided. In addition, from the late 15th century on, the grand duke created a class of military servitors (dvorianstvo) entirely subordinated to him by grants of land on a temporary basis, subject to performance of service.

The peasantry remained outside this system, with village communes taking care of local fiscal and police matters. Towns were under the direct rule of the grand duke’s representatives and enjoyed no municipal freedoms.

The culmination of absolutism was dramatically symbolized by the grandson of Ivan III, IVAN IV (r. 1533-84). Assuming (1547) the title of tsar, he underlined his claim to the succession of both Byzantium and the Golden Horde.

The conquests of the khanates of Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556) followed, putting the entire course of the Volga under Russian control. These conquests initiated further expansion (1581) into Siberia, whose western regions were conquered by the Cossack leader YERMAK TIMOFEYEVICH, sponsored by the Novgorod family of salt merchants, the Stroganovs.

Relying on his absolute power and increased military potential, Ivan IV attempted to eliminate the competition of Lithuania and gain a port on the Baltic. The 25-year war (1558-83) against Poland-Lithuania, Livonia, and Sweden–accompanied by several devastating raids of Crimean Tatars against Moscow (for example, in 1571)–ended in failure and seriously debilitated the country.

To mobilize all resources and cope with internal opposition, Ivan IV set up his own personal guard and territorial administration (oprichnina, 1565-72), whose exactions and oppression did great damage to both the economy and the social stability of the realm.

The combined needs of the military servitor class for labor and of the government for tax-paying peasants led to legislation limiting the mobility of peasants. The edicts of Ivan’s successors (Fyodor I, r. 1584-98, and BORIS GODUNOV, r. 1598-1605) initiated a process that culminated in the complete enserfment of the Russian peasantry (Code of 1649).

THE 17TH AND 18TH CENTURIES

The Muscovite dynasty ended in 1598 with the death of Ivan IV’s son Fyodor I. Real power during Fyodor’s reign had been exercised by his brother-in-law Boris Godunov, who was chosen to succeed him.

Although Boris was a strong ruler, he was regarded by many as a usurper. The exhausted country was, therefore, precipitated into turmoil marked by the appearance of a series of pretenders to the throne and provoking invasions by Poland, Sweden, and the Crimean Tatars ( 1598-1613). Disgruntled boyar families, enserfed peasants, COSSACKS, and lower clergy tried in turn to take advantage of the anarchy, but none succeeded.

Eventually, a militia of noble servitors (dvoriane) and townspeople of the northeast, based in Nizhni Novgorod, expelled the Poles from Moscow, drove back the Swedes and Cossacks, and elected young MICHAEL Romanov as tsar in 1613. The ROMANOV dynasty was to rule Russia until 1917.

The Muscovite dynasty ended in 1598 with the death of Ivan IV’s son Fyodor I. Real power during Fyodor’s reign had been exercised by his brother-in-law Boris Godunov, who was chosen to succeed him. Although Boris was a strong ruler, he was regarded by many as a usurper.

The exhausted country was, therefore, precipitated into turmoil marked by the appearance of a series of pretenders to the throne and provoking invasions by Poland, Sweden, and the Crimean Tatars ( 1598-1613).

Disgruntled boyar families, enserfed peasants, COSSACKS, and lower clergy tried in turn to take advantage of the anarchy, but none succeeded. Eventually, a militia of noble servitors (dvoriane) and townspeople of the northeast, based in Nizhni Novgorod, expelled the Poles from Moscow, drove back the Swedes and Cossacks, and elected young MICHAEL Romanov as tsar in 1613. The ROMANOV dynasty was to rule Russia until 1917.

An Era of Conflict

Beneath a veneer of traditional forms and static structures profound changes took place in the course of the 17th century, changes that resulted in religious, cultural, political, and socioeconomic disarray.

Efforts at reforming the church structure and at modernizing the ritual along Byzantine and Ukrainian lines, led by NIKON (patriarch from 1652 to 1666), were resisted in the name of earlier spiritualist traditions by large segments of the population (led by monks and parish priests).

These OLD BELIEVERS, about 25 percent of the population, were persecuted by the state and virtually split away from official culture and civil society. In suppressing the Old Believers the church lost much of its moral authority and autonomy vis-a-vis the state.

The cultural gap between the elites and the people was deepened by political, social, and economic conflicts: urban strife at times threatened the stability of the regime itself (for example, the salt riots of Moscow, 1648, and revolts in Pskov and Novgorod, 1650).

The military servitors’ struggle to establish full control (legalized by the Code of 1649) over their peasants led to numerous revolts. In 1670-71 dissatisfied Cossacks, persecuted Old Believers, escaped serfs, and disgruntled urban elements joined forces under Stenka RAZIN in a revolt that swept the entire Volga valley and threatened Moscow itself.

The religious crisis exacerbated the cultural conflict over the extent and character of Westernization. Trade contacts, especially with England and the Dutch, brought foreigners to Russia, and diplomatic exchanges grew more frequent as Russia became involved in European military and diplomatic events. The importation of Western technological innovations for military purposes brought in their wake foreign fashions and cultural goods.

The trend was reinforced following the incorporation of eastern Ukraine (1654). The ecclesiastical academy in Kiev (founded in 1637 by the Ukrainian churchman Peter Mohyla) educated future clergy (and some laymen) according to contemporary European neoscholastic philosophical and juridical curricula; its graduates often continued their studies at central and western European universities.

Better trained and more learned than the native Muscovite clerics, the graduates of the Kievan academy were welcomed in Moscow. They were the first to organize regular schools there (for example, the Greco-Latin Slavonic Academy), and they brought Western political and juridical works and belles-lettres to the Kremlin court.

The winds of culture and art blowing from the west also helped change Muscovite tastes in architecture, icon painting, church music, and poetry–changes in style that are usually labeled Moscow baroque. These foreign and innovative influences helped smooth the path for the forceful Europeanization that followed under Peter I.

The government, especially under Tsar ALEXIS (r. 1645-76), tried to cope with the difficulties by centralizing the local administrations (prikazy, or departments) under direct supervision of the boyar duma and the tsar, assisted by professional hereditary clerks (diaki). Naturally, the fiscal burden grew in proportion to centralization.

To ensure domestic control and to carry on an active foreign policy (for example, the annexation of the Ukraine in 1654 and wars with Poland leading to a “perpetual peace” in 1686), a professional army of streltsy (musketeers) and foreign mercenaries and modernized technology were introduced.

Although absolutism was retained intact, factionalism and palace coups became more frequent and made pursuing coherent policies difficult. When Tsar Fyodor III died in 1682 the situation was ripe for the energetic intervention of a genuine leader. After the brief but tumultuous regency of SOPHIA, 1682-89, Fyodor’s half brother Peter grasped the opportunity.

The Reforms of Peter the Great

By dint of his driving energy and ruthlessness, PETER I (r. 1682-1725) transformed Russia and brought it into the concert of European nations. A struggle of almost 20 years with CHARLES XII of Sweden (1700-21; ) and wars with Ottoman Turkey (1710-11) and Persia (1722-23) radically changed Russia’s international position (symbolized by Peter’s assumption of the new title of emperor in 1721).

By the Treaty of Nystad (1721) with Sweden, Russia acquired the Baltic province of LIVONIA (including Estonia and most of Latvia), giving it a firm foothold on the Baltic Sea and a direct relationship with western Europe. In the south gains were modest, but they marked the beginning of a Russian imperial offensive on the Black and Caspian seas.

These territorial gains, requiring much effort and great expenditures of labor and resources, forced Peter to transform the institutional framework of the state and to attempt a restructuring of society as well.

The central administration was streamlined along functional lines: a set of colleges on the European model displaced the prikazy, and a senate of appointed officials replaced the boyar duma; the church was put under direct state administration with the abolition of the patriarchate and the establishment of a Holy Synod (1721) of appointed ecclesiastical members supervised by a lay official.

A navy was created, and the army was reorganized along professional Western lines, the peasantry furnishing the recruits and nobility the officers. The local administration, however, remained a weak link in the institutional chain, although it maintained the vast empire in obedience. The peasantry was subjected to compulsory labor (as in the building of the new capital, SAINT PETERSBURG, begun in 1703) and to military service, and every individual adult male peasant was assessed with a head, or poll, tax.

By these measures the state severed the last legal ties of the peasants to the land and transformed them into personal serfs, virtually chattel, who could be moved and sold at will.

Other classes of society were not immune from state service either. Compulsory, lifelong service was imposed on the nobility, and their status was made dependent on ranks earned in military or administrative office (the Table of Ranks of 1722 also provided for automatic ennoblement of commoners through service).

State service required education, and Peter introduced compulsory secular, Westernized schooling for the Russian nobleman. While resistance to compulsory service gradually forced its relaxation, education became an internalized value for most nobles who were culturally Westernized by the mid-18th century.

Peter failed to reshape the merchants into a Western bourgeoisie, however, and his efforts at modernizing the economy had mixed results. The clergy turned into a closed castelike estate, losing its spiritual and cultural influence.

The limitations of Peter’s reforming drive were due to the inherent paradox of his policy and approach: he aimed at liberating the creative forces of Russian society, but he expected to accomplish this liberation only at his command and through compulsion, at a pace that precluded an adaptation of traditional patterns and values.

He succeeded in transforming the upper class but failed to change the common people; the deep cultural gulf in the long run undermined the regime.

The Imperial Succession

Peter’s impetuousness did not allow the new structure and patterns to congeal, and after his death (1725) instability plagued the new institutional setup. Having had his son, Alexis, tortured to death for alleged treason, Peter abolished the traditional practice of succession, declaring (1722) that the emperor could choose his successor.

For the next half-century the throne was exposed to a series of palace coups instigated by cliques of favorites and dignitaries with the support of the Guards regiments. After the reign (1725-27) of Peter’s widow, CATHERINE I, Peter II (r. 1727-30), ANNA (r. 1730-40), Ivan VI (r. 1740-41), ELIZABETH (r. 1741-62), and CATHERINE II (r. 1762-96), who supplanted her husband, PETER III, all came to the throne in this manner.

The only serious attempt at limiting the power of the throne (1730), however, failed because of divisions among the nobility and their continued dependence on state service. The autocracy managed to keep the nobility in subordination by promoting the economic status of that class through salaries, gifts, and the extension of its legal rights over the serfs, particularly following the traumatic experience of the great peasant uprising (1773-75) under Yemelian PUGACHEV.

The government proved unable to regularize its structure and practices through a code of laws because it was feared that such a code would delegate power to impersonal institutions.

Personalized authority was favored by most subjects, however, as a protection against abuses of officials and as a source of rewards. The tension between a rational and automatic rule of law and a personalized authority was never resolved in imperial Russia.

Expansion and Westernization

Two important processes dominated the 18th century. The first was imperial expansion southward and westward. The southern steppe lands were gradually settled by Russians, and the autonomous local social groupings–especially the Cossacks (whose hetmanate in the Ukraine was abolished in 1764)–lost their status and were assimilated into Russian serf society.

The process was formally completed by the Treaty of Kucuk Kainarji (1774), ending the first major RUSSO-TURKISH WAR, by which Russia secured the northern shore of the Black Sea, and by the annexation (1783) of the Crimea, which put an end to the nomadic threats from the southeast.

By extending (1783) serfdom to the Ukraine the economic integration of that area with Russia was achieved, and its large, prosperous estates were soon able to feed a growing urban population and to export grain abroad.

The empire’s expansion westward was the result of the Partitions of Poland (1772, 1792, 1795; ), which awarded Russia most of the eastern and central regions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

This expansion enhanced Russia’s economic potential and brought it closer to western Europe, but it also burdened the empire with unsolvable national and religious problems and saddled it with onerous diplomatic, military, and police tasks.

In the past, apart from the incorporation of small Finnish and Siberian tribes, Muscovy had known only one major territorial conquest involving non-Russian and non-Christian peoples–that of the Tatars of the Volga in the 16th century.

Their elites were quite successfully incorporated into the tsar’s service nobility (most eventually became Christians); as for the common folk, they were subject to a special tribute (iassak), but their internal tribal affairs were left to the care of traditional elders and chieftains.

The imperial acquisitions of the 18th century, however, brought a number of new nationalities under Russian rule: Ukrainians, Poles, Crimean Tatars, Jews, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Baltic Germans. Wherever workable, these nationalities’ elites were recruited into the military and civil establishments.

The common people continued to be allowed their own traditional institutions, provided they paid their taxes. The Russian church was discouraged from proselytizing. Legal disputes were resolved according to native customary law if no Russians were involved; otherwise Russian law took precedence.

Before the birth of modern nationalism in the 19th century this approach worked well enough so that the imperial administration and the Russian elites were able to ignore the multi-ethnic character of the empire.

The second process shaping 18th-century Russia is best characterized as the cultural Westernization of the Russian elites. It was furthered by the establishment of new educational institutions (the Academy of Sciences, 1725; the University of Moscow, 1755; and military and private schools), the creation of a modern national literature along Western lines (exemplified in the work of Mikhail LOMONOSOV and Aleksandr SUMAROKOV), and the beginnings of scientific research and discoveries (Lomonosov).

Increased sophistication heightened yearnings for free expression and implementation of enlightened Western moral and social values. It led to a conflict between state control and educated society’s demand for creative freedom and to the emergence of an oppositionist intelligentsia. In 1790, for example, Aleksandr RADISHCHEV denounced the moral evils of serfdom in A Journey from Saint Petersburg to Moscow.

Imperial expansion and cultural Westernization were accompanied by economic modernization. Russia became a notable producer of iron, lumber, and naval stores (pine products) and witnessed the expansion of urbanization and social amenities.

Catherine II intensified these developments and reaped their benefits. In February 1762 the nobles had been freed from compulsory state service by Peter III and had been given the right to travel abroad. But their corporate status, security of person and property, and local administrative function had not been clarified.

This was even truer of the other free classes. In order to obtain reliable and comprehensive information on conditions in the empire (and to bolster her own legitimacy) Catherine convoked (1767) an assembly of elected delegates from the free estates of the realm. The deputies were expected to draft and bring to the assembly “instructions” (nakazy) listing the conditions and needs of their electors.

This “Legislative Commission” was soon disbanded, but the instructions and debates gave Catherine ample material for a picture of what the various free classes of the population expected from her. In response she decided that Russian society should contribute more directly to economic activity.

To this end she fostered security of property and person, at least for members of the upper classes. In implementing this goal she followed two paths. First, by the Statute on the Provinces (1775) she concentrated the administration of the empire by breaking up its territory into manageable units (guberniia) under appointed governors responsible to the sovereign and accountable to the senate.

Governors were to be assisted by boards of officials organized according to function and, on the district level, by police officers elected by, and from among, the local nobility or wealthy urban population.

Second, the empress planned to promote the formation of a civil society by granting the three principal estates of the realm the right to form corporations. These would serve to register their members, and to protect group interests, as well as each individual member’s person and property.

The Charter to the Nobility (1785) put local resident nobles in charge of district police, some judicial matters, and the protection and supervision of orphans, widows, and incapacitated persons.

The Charter to the Towns (1785) similarly gave an active administrative role to urban elites, while reserving paramount authority to governors and appointed officials. A third charter giving state peasants a degree of self-government on the village level was drafted but never implemented.

Though the practice fell far short of the intention, Catherine II did lay the foundations for the emergence of a provincial civic and cultural life–a prerequisite for the modernization of Russia in the 19th century.

Two important processes dominated the 18th century. The first was imperial expansion southward and westward. The southern steppe lands were gradually settled by Russians, and the autonomous local social groupings–especially the Cossacks (whose hetmanate in the Ukraine was abolished in 1764)–lost their status and were assimilated into Russian serf society.

The process was formally completed by the Treaty of Kucuk Kainarji (1774), ending the first major RUSSO-TURKISH WAR, by which Russia secured the northern shore of the Black Sea, and by the annexation (1783) of the Crimea, which put an end to the nomadic threats from the southeast.

By extending (1783) serfdom to the Ukraine the economic integration of that area with Russia was achieved, and its large, prosperous estates were soon able to feed a growing urban population and to export grain abroad.

The empire’s expansion westward was the result of the Partitions of Poland (1772, 1792, 1795; ), which awarded Russia most of the eastern and central regions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This expansion enhanced Russia’s economic potential and brought it closer to western Europe, but it also burdened the empire with unsolvable national and religious problems and saddled it with onerous diplomatic, military, and police tasks.

In the past, apart from the incorporation of small Finnish and Siberian tribes, Muscovy had known only one major territorial conquest involving non-Russian and non-Christian peoples–that of the Tatars of the Volga in the 16th century. Their elites were quite successfully incorporated into the tsar’s service nobility (most eventually became Christians); as for the common folk, they were subject to a special tribute (iassak), but their internal tribal affairs were left to the care of traditional elders and chieftains.

The imperial acquisitions of the 18th century, however, brought a number of new nationalities under Russian rule: Ukrainians, Poles, Crimean Tatars, Jews, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Baltic Germans. Wherever workable, these nationalities’ elites were recruited into the military and civil establishments.

The common people continued to be allowed their own traditional institutions, provided they paid their taxes. The Russian church was discouraged from proselytizing. Legal disputes were resolved according to native customary law if no Russians were involved; otherwise Russian law took precedence.

Before the birth of modern nationalism in the 19th century this approach worked well enough so that the imperial administration and the Russian elites were able to ignore the multiethnic character of the empire.

The second process shaping 18th-century Russia is best characterized as the cultural Westernization of the Russian elites. It was furthered by the establishment of new educational institutions (the Academy of Sciences, 1725; the University of Moscow, 1755; and military and private schools), the creation of a modern national literature along Western lines (exemplified in the work of Mikhail LOMONOSOV and Aleksandr SUMAROKOV), and the beginnings of scientific research and discoveries (Lomonosov).

Increased sophistication heightened yearnings for free expression and implementation of enlightened Western moral and social values. It led to a conflict between state control and educated society’s demand for creative freedom and to the emergence of an oppositionist intelligentsia. In 1790, for example, Aleksandr RADISHCHEV denounced the moral evils of serfdom in A Journey from Saint Petersburg to Moscow.

Imperial expansion and cultural Westernization were accompanied by economic modernization. Russia became a notable producer of iron, lumber, and naval stores (pine products) and witnessed the expansion of urbanization and social amenities.

Catherine II intensified these developments and reaped their benefits. In February 1762 the nobles had been freed from compulsory state service by Peter III and had been given the right to travel abroad. But their corporate status, security of person and property, and local administrative function had not been clarified.

This was even truer of the other free classes. In order to obtain reliable and comprehensive information on conditions in the empire (and to bolster her own legitimacy) Catherine convoked (1767) an assembly of elected delegates from the free estates of the realm. The deputies were expected to draft and bring to the assembly “instructions” (nakazy) listing the conditions and needs of their electors.

This “Legislative Commission” was soon disbanded, but the instructions and debates gave Catherine ample material for a picture of what the various free classes of the population expected from her. In response she decided that Russian society should contribute more directly to economic activity.

To this end she fostered security of property and person, at least for members of the upper classes. In implementing this goal she followed two paths. First, by the Statute on the Provinces (1775) she concentrated the administration of the empire by breaking up its territory into manageable units (guberniia) under appointed governors responsible to the sovereign and accountable to the senate.

Governors were to be assisted by boards of officials organized according to function and, on the district level, by police officers elected by, and from among, the local nobility or wealthy urban population. Second, the empress planned to promote the formation of a civil society by granting the three principal estates of the realm the right to form corporations.

These would serve to register their members, and to protect group interests, as well as each individual member’s person and property. The Charter to the Nobility (1785) put local resident nobles in charge of district police, some judicial matters, and the protection and supervision of orphans, widows, and incapacitated persons.

The Charter to the Towns (1785) similarly gave an active administrative role to urban elites, while reserving paramount authority to governors and appointed officials. A third charter giving state peasants a degree of self-government on the village level was drafted but never implemented.

Though the practice fell far short of the intention, Catherine II did lay the foundations for the emergence of a provincial civic and cultural life–a prerequisite for the modernization of Russia in the 19th century.

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