What to Mate of Multi-Ethnic Late Tsarist Russia?

When Russia grew in its empire, they also grew in the number of ethnicities within its empire. Since Russia grew in the number of ethnicities it had within its empire, Kappeler’s chapter on ethnicity in late tsarist Russia felt like a whirlwind. But, as much as a whirlwind as the chapter may have felt, one takeaway I did get was that a great number of nationalities, if not all nationalities, were treated relatively equally.

I believe this because of the high number of non-Russians who were in the upper echelon of Russian Empire society.… Read the rest here

American vs. Russian Slavery

In Peter Kolchin’s Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom, the reader gets a comparison of American slavery and Russian serfdom. For the most part, he shows where there are significant similarities between the two. The exploration of these similarities between the two different slaveries enlightened me.

For example, Kolchin stated something that I did not know before: in some parts of the thirteen colonies, such as Virginia, there were periods where the issue of race with slavery was a non-issue.… Read the rest here

The Story of the Decembrists

Russia went through a number of rebellions in its past, but somehow the Decembrist Rebellion of 1825 had a different feel to it than some other rebellions. Maybe it was that the philosophy and nature of the rebellion was different from what one is often accustomed to.

I, for one, am accustomed to looking at peasant rebellions like the Pugachev Rebellion of 1773-1774, but the Decembrists were demographically the absolute opposite of the Pugachev Rebellion. The Decembrists, in other words, were actually a group of intellectual elites rebelling over the fact that the ideals of the French Revolution have not infiltrated into Russia.[1] Another demographic note about the Decembrists (and a striking one as well) was the fact that many of them were very young, so young that they were viewed as being child-like in a lot of ways.[2]

The best way to describe the Decembrists’ aims was this: they wanted the political system in Russia to change drastically.… Read the rest here

Reforming Tsars, Good Tsars, and Tsars in General

Cynthia H. Whittaker talked about how a “good tsar” often gets confused with a “reforming tsar,” and how it may be best to think of someone like Peter the Great as a “reforming tsar.” She seems to re-message and re-package how we think of tsars in a way that we should think of good ones not as “good” but as “reformers.”

But the confusing thing about this reading was that, while the author critiqued Mikhail Gorbachev’s definition of a “good tsar”[1] she presented all sorts of different definitions of a “good tsar” that have been mentioned over the centuries.… Read the rest here

Ulozhenie: Difference Maker or Part of a Trend?

In Chapter Twelve of Reinterpreting Russian History: Readings, 860-1860s, Daniel Kaiser and Gary Marker decide to include the perspective of an author (Richard Hellie) who thought of the Ulozhenie as the defining moment in the history of serfs in Russia. Hellie’s perspective, while interesting, leaves me with additional questions.

The most intriguing part of Hellie’s point-of-view was that his words seem to create a sharp division in Russian history, a division between pre-1649 and post-1649 (since 1649 was the year that the Ulozhenie was written). … Read the rest here

Fall of the Kievan Rus’, and its Aftermath

The Kievan Rus’ were once a formidable power, but that strength shifted away from Kiev in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The reasons for this shift were numerous, and the power structures which came in Kiev’s place were also varied.

Indeed, according to A History of Russia to 1855, “there is considerable controversy about the precise nature of these factors [related to the decline and fall of Kiev] and no consensus concerning their relative weight” (Riasanovsky and Steinberg 36).… Read the rest here