Russia: 1461-present

Russia Video

Growth of Russia


Rise and Fall of the Russian Empire

  • Early Viking/ByzantineCities(700-1240)
  • Kievan Rus start trade cities
  • Novgorod
  • Muscovy
  • Mongol Rule –Golden Horde (1240-1463)
  • Tribute of the boyars
  • The Muscovite Era and Russia (1463- 1689)
  • Impact of the Romanov Family (1689-1917)
  • Revolution and Communism (1917 - 1989
  • Mongolian Legacy in Russia
  • Military tactics and organization
  • New trade routes
  • Postal road network
  • Fiscal system
  • Russia was Asian culture until 1700s when Russian rulers made a conscious effort to Westernize their country.
  • Russian Politics – “the 3rd Rome”
  • Russian Nation State -1463
  • Absolutism grew by suppressing boyers (nobles) and using serfdom to control peasants
  • Capital moved from Kiev, to Moscovy, to St. Petersburg

Russian Military

  • 1450 – 1700 spreads east and conquers c. Asia as a buffer against Mongols
  • 1700 – 1914
  • spreads west and south to connect with Europe and increase wealth;
  • spreads East to take part of Qing China and gain E. Pacific port for trade
  • Peter the Great and Catherine the Great lead the Western expansion by improving the navy and army along Western lines
  • Defeated Napoleon in 1810-12
  • Military strength built on peasant army not innovation
  • Defeated by Japanese in 1905 in Naval war which humiliated Czars
  • Grand Duchy of Muscovy
    (Czar Ivan the Terrible - 1547-1584)
  • (Czar Peter the Great- 1682-1725)
    Western Orientation - St Petersburg
  • Czarina Catherine the Great
    (1760-1796) Expands south and east
  • Russian Colonization of Asia
  • Russian nobility sent Cossacks to colonize and settle
  • Cossacks were peasants who migrated to these new areas
  • Chinese trade increased through Russia
  • became economically dependent on Russia
  • Incorporated many ethnic and religious groups into Russian empire
  • Reduced central Asian tribal warfare

Russian Economy

  • 95% farmers
  • trade grew as Russian territory grew
  • Under Peter the Great 1689-1725
  • Increased mining industries
  • supplied industries with cheap labor source from serfs. 
  • new tax system installed
  • no attempt to extend reforms to masses
  • Remained desperately poor
  • Trade was hindered because Russia lacked cities/markets
  • Trans-Siberian RR built in late 1880-1904
  • Peter the Great’s map

Russian Religion

  • Russian Orthodox Christians
  • Taught by Byzantine Christians
  • Beautiful churches
  • Orthodox church important culturally
  • Russian Society
  • Low literacy
  • Somewhat barbaric lifestyle. 
  • Typical social hierarchy with lots of poor serfs (47% public, 53% private)
  • Westernization under Peter and Catherine the Greats
  • French spoken in court
  • Western dress required in court
  • No beards for nobles
  • Westernization seen as path to prosperity and influence
  • cultural changes only affected elite
  • Russian Intellectual Development
  • Peter the Great westernization
  • Catherine the Great – Enlightenment ideals
  • Both increased schools, built better roads, improved legal systems, built beautiful buildings


  • Iconic religious art
  • Intricate, colorful designs
  • Churches
  • Paintings
  • Jewelry
  • architecture  in St. Petersburg and Moscovy
  • Late 1800s beautiful ballets and classical music (Stravinsky, Rachmaninov)
  • Peter Carl Faberge
  • Russia – Themes: 1450 -1914

Culturally distinct (not Europe, not Asia)

  • A bit backward (no Renaissance, no Reformation) but attempts to catch up through state-sponsored Westernization
  • Rural and agricultural (98% of population)
  • Serfdom (until 1861)
  • Strong Absolute Monarchy – ever-present Myth of the Benevolent Czar