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HIST 245 Before Midterm

Course Code
HIST 245
Ana Siljak
Study Guide

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HIST 245 Medieval, Muscovite, and Imperial Russia
Professor Anna Siljak
Tues Sept 9/13
Imperial Russia 1689-1917
o Beginning with Peter the Great and ending with the last Tsar, Peter II
Theme: Westernization
o Was imperial Russia a European country?
Emphasis: Cultural and intellectual history
o Environment
Very cold major portions are frozen most of the year
97% of the population is agricultural (peasants)
Planting crops is a difficult activity w cold weather
o Short season, only one chance per year
o Only small portion is fertile
Low crop yields
Subsistence agriculture barely enough to eat
o Cycles of famines
Farm animals lived in the home
o Would freeze otherwise
o Livestock could not graze in winter
Had to share food with animals
Agriculture seen as key to modern prosperity
Lack of good agriculture did not allow Russia to modernize
Very flat expansion is relatively easy
Huge territory, but sparsely populated
o 15 million people at beginning of time period
500,000 in cities, rest in countryside
o Difficult to keep control of vast area
Winter is easiest time to travel (use sleds)
o Roads impassable in spring and fall
To keep country together, tried western forms of bureaucratic reform
o Must expend power into the periphery
o Peasants
Live in communes
Peasant commune is practical
Difficult climate, uncertainty of harvest
o Freehold family farm is impossible
Too many resources are needed
Land is divided into strips and each family given a certain number of
strips based on number of family members, repartitioned every few
Becomes unique concept in Russian history

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o Either hindrance to modernity or is what makes Russia ahead of
its time
Serfdom owned by landlords
Live slaves, owned by masters for life
Abolition influences by western movements
o Autocracy and Aristocracy
Tsars and Tsarinas
Sole, all-powerful rulers of Russia
God-given duty to rule over his people
o Most important duty of the subject is to create harmony
between Tsar and his people
Subjects are entirely dependent upon the Tsar
Humble slaves
The family is extremely important
Especially in upper social ranks
o Best thing is to get a family member married to the Tsar
Power and rank reflected in position at court, seating
Ruling families change often
Tsars create bureaucracy, legal systems, to limit the power of the family
Westernization about challenging the power of the family
Autocracy until 1917
o Orthodoxy
Russian religion as powerful force shaping culture
Orthodox Christianity
o Designated after Great Schism, 1054
o Many theological differences
Refusal of the Orthodox to recognize the pope in Rome
Divided into churches with patriarchs at the
o Develops independently from the west
Largely unaffected by the Renaissance, Reformation,
and Enlightenment
o Obstacle to westernization?
Visual imagery is Tsar’s orthodoxy
Tradition vs. modernization
o Westernization
Transformation from “barbarous” nation to St. Petersburg, western capital
Did it become European, or just look European?
Thurs Sept 12/13
Peter the Great: Childhood and Youth (r.1682-1725)
Peter the Controversial Figure
o Began Russia’s modernization process
Put Russia on the western calendar
Introduced parties, mixed-company gatherings
o Seen as destroying everything unique, national, about Russia

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o Ultimate ruler, condemned as tyrant
Seen as antichrist by some groups
Childhood and Youth
o Genealogy
Tsar Alexis
13 children by first wife, Maria Miloslavskii
Maria died, took second wife, Natalia Naryshkin
o Peter was first son of second wife, born 1672
o Dynastic Conflicts
Family was everything, Russia ruled by small number of elite families
Rank is carefully determined in hierarchy
Family status, and position within the family
To clarify ranks, series of genealogical tables to keep track of all the men
within the families
Could move up and down in status
Best way to move up was to marry up
o Daughters were the currency by which a family could move up
o Best was to have a daughter marry the Tsar
When Maria died, Miloslavskii family lost power
Naryshkins took over
Tsar Alexis dies
Now two families in contention for the next in line, hated each other
Next Tsar either to be Theodore (first Miloslavskii son, r. 1676-82) or
o Theodore wins, is older
o Peter and Natalia fade, not mistreated
Theodore dies 1682
Ivan Miloslavskii (r.1682-96) not fit to take throne, many wanted 10-
year old Peter
1682, revolt of musketeers against Naryshkins
Told were going to curb their power
Many Naryshkin supporters thrown from windows into waiting pikes
o Peter witnessed violence
Compromise Peter and Ivan as co-rulers of Russia
o Peter was Tsar in name only
Ivan’s sister Sophia (r.1682-89) becomes regent in his brother’s name
Peter and Naryshkins decide to leave the Kremlin, voluntary exile
o A Busy Youth
Lives just outside Moscow for 7 years
Rejects traditional education
Embarks on 2 projects
o Game of soldiers
Played soldiers very seriously
Made his friends build stables, offices, perform
drills, wear uniforms
Asked Kremlin for weapons, was given
Built and attacked a fortress
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