The Multi-Ethnic Empire

As the Russian empire began expanding its borders through the acquisition of new land, Russia became home to became convoluted  with foreigners.  Non-Russians approximately made up more than half of the total population according to the first general census conducted in 1897.  This information was actually pretty shocking for me, as it gave me an understanding of how hard it must have been to govern an empire that was filled with so many ethnicities.

The Russian empire appeared to be mostly tolerant of other religions besides orthodoxy being practiced.  … Read the rest here

What is a Russian?

At the very beginning of this course, we learned of the Scythians, a group of non-Slavic people living in what we know as Russia. Russia’s origins were never purely “Russian” for archeological evidence revealed many groups such as the Scythians in early Rus’. Fast forward four hundred years and Russia has expanded vastly. It has control of the Polish kingdom on its West side, and southern control in parts of Middle Asia. With this expansion of the Russian territory came along new demographics in Russia, in certain places, outnumbering the number of Russians in various towns and cities.… Read the rest here

Russian Demographics

While we often hear about the Russian monarchy not having that much Russian blood, that is also associated with the mass of the Russian Empire. Many of the people living within the borders of the Empire have a different ethnic identity than simply Russian. Many of them are “Little Russians”, this can mean either Belorussian or Ukrainian. However, they were counted as Russian, in the Census of 1897. Actually, over half of the people living within the borders were not ethnically Russian.… Read the rest here

The “Neglected Majority”

In his book The Russian Empire: a Multi-Ethnic History, Andreas Kappeler surveys Russia in terms of its countless distinct ethnicities and cultures. Chapter eight, “the Late Tsarist Multi-ethnic Empire between Modernization and Tradition,” focuses on data from the 1897 general census of the Russian population. The census contained bias from various existing prejudices at the time, but it is an invaluable source when attempting to define the population of the largest and most varied territory in the world.… Read the rest here

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

Great Reforms in the 1860s

During the reign of Alexander II from 1855 to 1881, the state passed a series of reforms that covered the most basic areas of need in Russian society. The emancipation of serfdom occurred in 1861 which abolished the owning of peasants. The Emancipation document asserts that those freed have “personal and property rights” just as any free city dweller. They also received some land to provide for themselves from the landowner but in return the peasant had to pay them in either labor or money.… Read the rest here

The Free Serfs


These law codes follow the emancipation of the serfs causing much of the information and prevalence to revolve around this event. The redistribution of land and property as well as the way it should be distributed is frequently discussed throughout all the codes. This is not surprising as with the freeing of the serfs, a huge section of the population, comes the problem of property dispersal across the country. The nobles of Russia previously owned and controlled a huge majority of the property in Russia.… 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

Generalizations about Slavery

Slavery is not exclusive to one country or body of people. In Peter Kolchin’s Introduction, “The Origin and Consolidation of Unfree Labor” he argues against the idea that all slavery has emerged for the same isolated reason of economic attainment. Instead just as wars and social movements are inherent because of the historical conditions at hand, slavery emerged and was enforced in different ways for different purposes. Kolchin his book, Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom, compares the two types of forced labor that arose around the same year.… Read the rest here