Ch 18: Rise of Russia



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Ch 18: Rise of Russia

  • New Russian rulers in the 15th and 16th centuries faced a new challenge of proving their legitimacy to subordinates

  • Early tsars (Ivan III and Ivan IV) claim to be descendants of Rurik, the founder of Russia

  • Ivan III “Ivan the Great”; Ivan IV  “Ivan the Terrible”

  • on top of providing detailed genealogy books to prove that they are descendants from Rurik, but they also claim that Russia is a “Third Rome”  this is why they call themselves tsars

  • these early tsars argue that they’re defenders of the Christian faith

  • these justifications were still not enough to legitimize their reign. Ivan IV invoked Mongol heritage and claimed that Central Asia used to be Russian “property” during the reign of Rurik

  • as Ivan IV defeats the Mongols, he goes as far as to call himself “Khan of the North”

  • 3 Lessons that are important for Russian history:

  1. Tsars claim a lot

  2. Their claims are usually contradictory (tsars claim that they should rule because they’re strongest and that they should rule because they’re related to Rurik)

  3. Because Russian expansion reached out in so many different regions, the new empire would become complex and multifaced


Russia’s Expansionist Politics Under Early Tsars:

  • Russia’s new power relied heavily on being independent from the Mongols

  • Moscow princes gained political experience as tax collectors for the Mongols, and would eventually use that experience to rule Russia independently

  • Under Ivan III, a large portion of Russia was freed after 1462


The Need for Revival

  • Mongols hadn’t transformed Russian culture because they were mainly interested in the tribute

  • Most local administrative issues were left to regional princes, landlords, etc.

  • While some landlords did adopt Mongol styles of dress, most Russians remained Christian

  • While many aspects of Russian culture remained the same during Mongol occupation, economic life and academic life did change

  • Within the priesthood, literacy rates dropped which led to reduced Russian vigor in academics.

  • The Mongols got rid of trading and manufacturing and transformed Russia into an agrarian society (work performed by peasant labor)

  • After gaining independence in 1462 under Ivan III, Russia needed to reform academic and economic life

  • The next leader, Ivan IV, earned his nickname of Ivan the Terrible by killing any boyar who he suspected of treason


Patterns of Expansion

  • Territorial expansion was focused on Central Asia

  • The geography of Russia made them susceptible to invasion, so Ivan III pushed people southward toward the Caspian Sea and Eastward into the Ural Mountains

  • Both Ivan III and Ivan IV recruited peasants (Cossacks) to move into these newly seized lands

  • To escape from tsarist rule, many Cossacks ventured further east into Western Siberia and began settling in lands that were previously inhabited by Asiatic nomads

  • Expansion gave tsars a chance to reward loyal boyars by giving them estates in newly acquired territory

  • New lands also provided for an opportunity to revive agriculture and provided a new source of labor (slavery)


Western Contact and Romanov Policy

  • As Russia expanded, they increased communication with Western European powers

  • During the reign of Ivan IV, British merchants establish trading contacts with Russia

  • British merchants are selling manufactured goods in exchange for furs and other raw goods

  • The tsars import Italian artists and architects to design church buildings in the palace at Moscow

  • The Italian architects combine Renaissance styles with Russian building tradition to form onion-shaped domed buildings that become characteristic of Russian architecture

  • Russians began looking to Western Europe for tradition in art and status

  • Ivan IV dies without an heir. As a result, boyars began to claim power. Sweden and Poland performed a series of attacks against Russia  “Time of Troubles”

  • In 1613, one of these boyars chose a member of the Romanov family to become tsar

  • The Romanov Dynasty would eventually rule Russia until the Russian Revolution in 1917

  • The first Romanov, Michael, continues the expansionist policy by attacking Poland and acquiring Ukraine and Kiev. Also expanded south to the borders of the Ottoman Empire

  • The second Romanov, Alexis, gains power over the church by purging the church of rituals and superstitions that crept in under Mongols

  • Dissident religious conservatives, “Old Believers”, were exiled to Siberia or Southern Russia


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