• amanda0195

Russia's monarchs


  • Russian Orthodox Church ("Eastern Orthodox")

  • Offshoot of Greek Orthodox, Byzantine Empire (eastern Roman Empire)

  • Christianity brought by Byzantine missionaries

  • Brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius

  • St. Cyril introduced the written language (Cyrillic) to make it easier to translate the Bible into the local language.

  • Russia was considered the "Third Rome" (Rome, Constantinople)

  • Head of Russian Orthodox Church was the Patriarch

  • Church became divided: upper classes and peasants

  • Peasants began to see the church as another tool for repression.

  • Peter the Great's Reforms

  • ​Put Church under committee of bishops called the Holy Synod

  • At head of Holy Synod was a non-clergyman, a Procurator, appointed by Peter.

  • More traditional Russians, the Old Believers, rebelled unsuccessfully.

  • Orthodox Church became an instrument of the Russian government.



  • Tatars - Descendants of the Mongols

  • Cossacks -- Independent people from Volga and Black Sea, known for military skill

  • Rose up under Cossacks Stenka (Stepan) Razin (1670) and Pugachev (1773).

  • Boyars -- nobles

  • Serfs -- peasants bound to the land of the Boyars

  • Streltsy -- Hereditary Russian guardsmen, they rebelled against Peter in 1689.

  • Tsars (or Czars)-- From word "Caesar" - Russian emperors until 1917


KIEVAN RUS (862-1240)

RURIK (862-879)

  • Branch of Varangians (Vikings)

  • First leader of Rus

  • Established himself in Novgorod

  • St. Cyril and Methodius (brothers)

  • In 863 the Byzantine missionaries created Slavic alphabet (Cyrillic) and translated Bible into Slavic language

OLEG (879-882)

  • Moved capital to Kiev

  • Created "Kievan Rus"

  • Became Grand Prince of Kiev and Grand prince of Novgorod

  • 11th c. Rus states fragmented into principalities.

VLADIMIR THE GREAT (r. 980-1015)

  • Golden Age of Kievan Rus

  • Pact with Byzantine Emperor Basil II

  • Basil gave his sister in marriage in exchange for conversion to Christianity

  • Vladimir accepted Orthodox Christian faith.

  • First written legal code

Mongols invaded in 1240



Grand Duchy of Moscow

  • 1240, Mongols (Batu Khan) conquered Kievan Rus, burned to ground

  • Mongols didn't occupy Russia, created tributary system (Golden Horde)

  • Resulted in the growth of Grand Duchy of Moscow (1283-1547)

  • Local Russian princes collected tribute for Mongols

  • Prince of Moscow took over territories that failed to pay Mongols

  • Moscow became seat of Orthodox leaders

Influence of Mongol rule on Russia

  • Separated Russia from the rest of Europe.

  • Russians became Greek Orthodox

  • Geography made communication with West difficult.

  • Cultural isolation, fell behind West (no Renaissance)

  • Economic isolation

  • Serfdom

  • Created because peasants needed protection from Mongols

  • Growth of church

  • Muslim Mongols didn't force conversion.

  • Orthodox church = identity and comfort

  • Art --> iconography and fresco painting

  • Metropolitan became head of Orthodox Church

  • Division of East Slavic people

  • Russia, Ukraine, Belarus

  • Language (Mongol words in Russian language)

Ivan I, Grand Prince of Moscow (r. 1325-1340)

  • Chief intermediary between Mongol overlords and Rus lands



IVAN IV "THE TERRIBLE" (1533-1584)

  • Added to authority of tsars

  • Destroyed power of Mongols and conquered parts of Siberia

  • Became first "Tsar of All Russias" in 1547

  • Followed by Time of Troubles


TIME OF TROUBLES (1598-1613)

  • Ivan's feeble son, Fyodor, wasn't fit to rule

  • And left no successors after his death in 1598

  • Nobles (boyars) vied for control against weak tsars.




MICHAEL ROMANOV (R. 1614-1645)

  • Elected by a group of leading nobles in 1613 to end Time of Troubles.

  • Began Romanov dynasty which ruled to 20th c.

ALEXIS I (R. 1645-1676)

  • Law Code of 1649

  • Merged peasants and slaves into a class of serfs

  • Gave landowning nobility the power to treat them as property

  • Revolts

  • 1640s and early 1670s = revolts by lower classes against landowners.

  • 1670s revolts of Cossacks (free warrior) led by Stenka (Stepan) Razin

  • Fighting only boyars and wealthy lords

  • Stenka Razin's army joined by peasants and urban poor.

  • Defeated by Russian soldiers

  • Razin was tortured and killed.



PETER THE GREAT (1689-1725)

  • Shared rule with his disabled half-brother Ivan V until Peter was 16

  • Great Embassy (1697-1698)

  • Peter was enamored with the West

  • Went on diplomatic tour of Western Europe

  • Copied Western politics, customs, technology

  • Brought 1000 foreign experts for service in Russia

  • Streltsy Revolt 1698

  • In 1682 the streltsy tried to prevent Peter the Great from coming to power

  • Peter limited the political and military influence of the streltsy (guards).

  • ​While Peter was in Europe, the streltsy revolted, Peter crushed them brutally

  • Power over Nobles

  • Peter forced nobles to serve 25 years in military or civil service

  • Ranked nobles according to their service to the tsar (Table of Ranks, 1712)

  • Nobility had to get an education (Peter, himself, simplified Cyrillic alphabet)

  • Forced nobles to adopt Western dress, hairstyles and etiquette

  • Peter wrote book of etiquette

  • ​Cut beards (or pay beard tax), shorten sleeves etc.

  • Duma and national assembly

  • Was replaced by a "senate" which was controlled by the tsar.

  • Power over church

  • ​Put Orthodox Church under a committee of bishops called the Holy Synod

  • At head of Holy Synod was a non-clergyman, a Procurator, appointed by Peter.

  • Orthodox Church became an instrument of the Russian government

  • More traditional Russians, the Old Believers, rebelled unsuccessfully.

  • Economics

  • Raised money by multiplying taxes (mainly on peasants)

  • Made serfdom more universal.

  • Encouraged mercantilist policies

  • Formed commercial companies (with help from foreign advisers) using government capital and labor supply of serfs

  • Foreign policy

  • Military

  • Peter imported military advisers.

  • Built a standing army in 1699 with over 200,000 soldiers.

  • Created a navy by 1725 (48 ships)

  • Military wore uniforms, equipped with Western weapons

  • Nobility required to serve as officers

  • Peter raised taxes to pay for the military (in 1718, a "soul tax" on all males except clergy and nobility, Old Believers paid double)

  • Lacked warm-water access to West

  • Tried to seize lands bordering Black Sea (ruled by Ottomans) but not successful

  • Then turned toward Sweden

  • Great Northern War (1700-1721)

  • Battle of Poltava (1709) Russians destroyed Swedish army (wounded Swedish king Charles XII)

  • Treaty of Nystad (1721) got Swedish Baltic provinces and some Polish territories

  • St. Petersburg

  • Built St. Petersburg ("window to the West") in new Baltic territory

  • Forced nobles to live there.

  • Moscow, the center of opposition to modernization, left behind.

  • Succession

  • Tortured his son and successor, Alexis, to death

  • Legacy

  • By Peter's death 1725, Russia was a major player on the European stage.


  • Mediocre rulers from 1725-1762

  • Landowning elite grew wealthier than ever

ELIZABETH (1741-1762)

  • Domestic policy

  • Nobles allowed to gain dominance in local government

  • And terms of service shortened

  • Built Winter Palace

  • Didn't execute anyone during her reign

  • Foreign policy

  • Entered War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748)

  • And Seven Years War (1756-1763)

  • To lessen power of Prussia

PETER III (1762)

  • Peter the Great's grandson, nephew to Elizabeth

  • Raised in Germany (barely spoke Russian)

  • Domestic policy

  • Ended 25-year mandatory service for nobles

  • Mandated obligatory education for aristocrats.

  • Proclaimed religious freedom

  • Abolished secret police

  • Made killing serfs a crime

  • Foreign policy

  • Pro-Prussia (admired Frederick the Great)

  • Withdrew Russian forces from Seven Years War to support Prussia against Austria

  • Deposed and assassinated (probably because of conspiracy led by his wife, Catherine II)

CATHERINE THE GREAT (r. 1762-1796)

  • Ended decades of weak leadership

  • Obscure princess from German state

  • Married Peter III (r. 1762)

  • Tyrannical, dumb grandson of Peter Great

  • Catherine conspired with group of aristocratic army officers to assassinate husband Peter III.

  • Enlightened Despot

  • Corresponded with Diderot, Voltaire and other philosophes

  • Nobles

  • Catered to nobles because of questions about her legitimacy

  • Made advancement up Peter's Table of Ranks automatic after seven years regardless of merit

  • Convened legislative commission

  • To reform Russia's legal code

  • Half were commoners (some peasants)

  • Instruction (1767) – equality before law, abolition of torture etc.

  • But only minor reforms before abandoned

  • Pugachev Rebellion 1774

  • ​Insurrection of Cossacks led by Yemelyan Pugachev

  • Pugachev proclaimed an end to serfdom

  • Largest peasant revolt in Russia's history

  • Defeated by Catherine

  • Foreign Expansion

  • ​Defeated Ottoman Turks in 1774

  • Extending Russia to the Black Sea and Balkan Peninsula

  • Poland (then 3rd largest country in Europe)

  • ​3rd largest country in Europe

  • But weak

  • No natural boundaries

  • No strong central government.

  • No allies

  • 1772 Russia, Prussia and Austria took slices of Polish territory (1st Partition)


---- under construction ----


ALEXANDER I (r. 1801-1825)

  • Napoleon

  • Russia suffered from Continental system

  • Napoleon invaded – grand army of 60,00

  • Russian army retreated into interior

  • Battle of Borodin,

  • Russians made a stand – one of bloodiest battles of 19th c. 80,000 casualties

  • French won battle but failed to destroy Russia’ forces

  • Moscow

  • Alex. I refused to capitulate – fire destroyed much of Moscow leaving invaders without enough shelter or supplies to ride out Russian winter.

  • 10s of 1000s of French froze, starved o captured by Cossacks.

  • Attended Congress of Vienna (1 of 4 victors against Napoleon)

  • Conceived of Holy Alliance (with Austria and Prussia)

  • To safeguard principles of Christianity

  • Three bastions of conservatism

  • Also Quadruple Alliance (aka Concert of Europe)

  • For perpetuating the Vienna settlement

  • Stability (maintaining the balance of power)

  • And legitimacy (territories under control of old ruling houses of the traditional order)

  • Conservatism in Russia

  • Russia vast agricultural nation, feudal social structure, tiny urban bourgeoisie.

  • Orthodox Church

  • dominated by upper clergy from aristocracy

  • served as arm of govt.


  • Alex. I first open to reform (like granting Poles a constitution and proclaiming religious toleration)

  • Later more reactionary system) resumed religious repression

  • Employed secret police, censorship

  • Fell under influence of Metternich in international affairs and own aristocratic magnates at home

  • Decembrists

  • Younger Russian nobles who had been educated in Western Europe and influence by the Enlightenment

  • As well as Russian army officers who had occupied France after 1815

  • Hoped to see Alexander’s brother Constantine become the next tsar

  • Dreamed of a more Westernized government with a constitution and even freedom of serfs

  • Formed secret societies to work toward those goals.

  • Constantine, though,

  • Had already given up his right to the throne in favor of his brother Nicholas I

  • Alexander died suddenly in 1825

NICHOLAS I (1825-1855)

Austere autocrat, discipline, authority

Crushed the Decembrists

(young liberal military officers hoping to write a constitution and free the serfs, considered liberal martyrs)

Then turned against any hints of liberalism

Demanded submission of everyone to the autocracy and to the Orthodox Church


Russia reputation as most conservative of Europeans powers

Government remained autocratic under tsar, feudalistic society





Law Code of 1649 = landowning nobility power to treat serfs as property.


Forced to serve state, cut beards, study abroad

Bureaucratic system applied

Rise through ranks by merit only

After Peter the Great

Mediocre rulers from 1725-1762

Landowning elite grew wealthier than ever

Nobility took back some of the authority it had lost to Peter

1762 Nobles freed themselves of all obligations to state (still staffed bureaucracy and military officer corps)

Nobles cracked down even more on serfs

Catherine the Great

Needed nobility because of her legitimacy issues

Middle Class


97% of population, serfs in worst condition in Europe

Law Code of 1649 (Michael Romanov, 1613-1645)

Merged peasants and slaves into a class of serfs

Gave landowning nobility the power to treat them as property.

1660s, 1670s lower classes rebelled against landowners and officials, killed them, looted

Revolt of Cossacks (free warriors) led by Stenka Razin against boyars

Peter the Great (1689-1725)

After Peter the Great

Nobles freed of obligations to state

Nobles cracked down even more on serfs, reducing their status to mere property

1767 Decree on Serfs “serfs and peasants…owe landlords proper submission and absolute obedience in all matters”

Catherine the Great

Early talks of easing burdens on peasantry came to little

In return for support of noble landowners, she allowed them to subjugate the peasants even further.

Pugachev rebellion (1773) stopped her from reforming feudal institution

Alexander II

Feudalistic society still bound serfs to land and their lords

Crimean War 1853 - 1856 (Russia v. Ottoman Turks)

France, Britain and Piedmont-Sardinia joined Ottoman Turks

Peasant revolts and workers protests had plagued Russia

Only Russia still allowed serfdom which left millions tied to the land

Serfs deeply resented labor and dues owed for right to farm lands

1825-1855 more than 500 serf rebellions, food shortages, aristocrats took little responsibility for suffering of their serfs

Serfs in Russia’s armies lacked enthusiasm.

Alexander’s “Great Reforms”

1861 freed Russia’s 22 million serfs

Few years later, 25 million state-owned peasants

“better to abolish serfdom from above than wait until serfs begin to liberate themselves from below.

Serfs not fully independent and self-sufficient

Receive poorest land, owed payments for land and freedom, tied by collective ownership to their village commune, the mir whose elected officials assigned parcels of land and determined what could be planted

Local political assemblies (zemstva) with elected officials, encouraged primary and secondary education by opening 1000s of new schools and reduce military service

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All