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HIS102Y1 Lecture Notes - Absolute Monarchy, Despotism, Civilizing Mission

Course Code
Sutherland- Harris

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The Russian Empire between East and West
Tuesday march 12th/ 2013
What is Russia?
1700- 1970 (the communist revolution)
Did the Russian empire belong to Europe or to Asia?
oNot quite one or the other
Russia’s Westward turn
Peter the great (1689-1729) was the one who wanted to
westernize Russia
He moved capital to St. Petersburg and wanted it to be a
window to the west
He required all the nobles to wear western type dress
Catherine the Great (1762- 1796) ruled because her husband
was feeble minded
oShe was credited with bringing the European
enlightenment to Russia
oWas in correspondence with Voltaire
oMade her courtiers speak French which indicated that
they were interested in being part of high society
oSponsored arts
oYet she had a deep ambivalence towards western arts –
wondered if Russia should assimilate completely to
western ideals
oShe continued territorial expansion – took Ukraine
which helped their food productions
Went down to central Asia
Took a share of Poland
Russia’s Multi-ethnic empire
1800 less than half people were ethnically Russian
The empire allowed and respected all other religious and
cultural differences
Allowed some self rule just because it was easier to let the
locals rule themselves like the Mongols on the steppes or the
Germanic peoples
oCould not have one single rule that applied to all the
Had a large Jewish population from the acquiring of Poland
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