The Overcoat

The story of The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol is a witty commentary on the efficiency of the bureaucracy in Russia. The main character Akakiy Akakievitch is a short, bald toped red head who has an abundance of personal issues; he is shy, unconfident and a terrible communicator. Despite these traits, Akakiy loves his job in a “certain department” as a copier and is very good at his job, in fact he lives to copy things. The plot of the story is formed as Akakiy clearly needs a new cloak, for the harsh Russian winter is coming and he is constantly being made fun of at the office for his “cape” rather than cloak.… Read the rest here

Catherine The Great’s Enlightened Policies

From the minute Catherine the Great seized the thrown in 1762, enlightened policies were enacted. That very year, She published The Manifesto Freeing the Nobility From Compulsory Service. In this script she grants the release of all nobility from the Table of Ranks, and preserves this right for future generations to come. Within this document Catherine stresses the new right to travel, showing her desire for a more cultured and global perspective for the nobility. Although the Manifesto repeals Peter the Great’s Table of Ranks, it also praises his work for progressing the military as well as civil and educational affairs.… Read the rest here

Peter the Great

Peter the Great strived to shape Russia into a systematic state focused on gaining nationalism through order. Inn 1722 after the Table of Ranks was established to clearly define roles in society however, Peter’s intentions never really formed. Russia’s theme of orderliness is exemplified here. Whether it be house-hold as seen in Domonstroi or general customary law such as the Pravda Russkaia; Russia has always been concerned with the well being of citizens and this was reinforced by the idea of orderliness.… Read the rest here

Domostroi 12-18

These chapter encompass the duties of men, concerning how to pray and how to conduct their wives, children and servants to be good christians. Perhaps more than anything else, men are encouraged to pray numerous times a day, including waking up in the middle of the night to do so. Men are to pray to god, christ and perhaps the most revealing of Russian culture, the Tsar and his royal family.  It is clear that men are supposed to pray and go to church far more than women, children and their servants, however they are also obligated to attend church when their duties allow them to.… Read the rest here

Questions About Ivan IV

1.) Ivan IV reigned over a period in Russian history where the growth of the central government was rapid and intrusive to local administrators. Was centralizing Russia a positive or negative idea?….regardless of whose in charge?

2.) What was the role of the Zemskii Sobor? The “Assembly of Land” took place centuries after Ivan IV, what does this reveal about Russian culture?

3.) How does The Reign of Terror represent Ivan’s irrational approach to ruling over Russia?… Read the rest here

Post Mongol Invasion Law

After the Mongol conquest of Russia was over, law seemed to change by putting a focus on a more civilized and fair society rather than “getting even” with another party.  The Pravada Russkaia was created in the eleventh century and is a long list of crimes and set fines to go along with them. There is little organization to this early Russian law code.

The courts are given much of the responsibility when determining which party is at fault, rather than a set list of fines, after the Mongol Invasion.… Read the rest here

Mongol Invasion of Russia, 13th Century.

It is believed by The Russian Chronicle of Novgorod that God willed the Tatars, a group derived of Central Asian Mongols, to slay the Russians. God did this because The Princes around the country had not been obeying the will left by their predecessor, Grand Prince Iaroslav. Instead, the princes were fighting amongst each other, and not acting like brothers.

The Mongols were ruthless and brutal. They came into villages did terrible deeds such as dishonoring the wives of priests and slaying all members of the community, including children by fire or the sword.… Read the rest here

Birchbark scrips and Russian Graffiti.

Once again thanks to the wonders of archaeology, we are able to recover artifacts such as birch bark writings and graffiti embedded into the deep layers of walls in several cathedrals in Russia. There are approximately 700 different birch bark writings that have been found around modern day Russia. Embedded deep in many meters of damp soil these scripts can be extracted. The dampness is responsible for the preservation of the writings. (p-71) Although we are able to clearly see characters inscribed in the birchbark, they are very tricky to read as they come in small fractions of a whole.… Read the rest here

The Economy in Kiev

In the latest section of readings we learn that there were two primary staples of the economy throughout the 10th-13th century in Russia. One being the practice of agriculture, the second being trade. Archaeology plays a key role in our understanding of the subject. For instance, we learn about basic tools such as plows used and also the great desire for amber.

Because of Russia’s vast size and land diversity, farming regions were greatly divided. The northern plains were much harsher to grow crops on but on the contrary the southern lands in the right season could be very plentiful.… Read the rest here