Russia Before Peter



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Peter the Great and Catherine the Great (Absolutism in Eastern Europe)
Russia Before Peter

I.Until around 1533 had been part of or under the influence of the Mongolian Khanate. As a result...Russia did not participate in the early round of centralizing and state building that had occurred in the West (Spain, France, England). THEREFORE…



  1. There was a large nobility that had strong control over its local territories.

  2. There was not a strong army and Russia had no navy.

II. The customs and traditions developed in Russia were largely based on non-Western ideas.



  1. Serfdom was the predominant form of labor.

  2. There were very few cities

  3. Culturally, Russians favored Eastern styles - long beards, long coats

  4. The Columbian exchange only affected the very, very, very rich

III. Russians were part of the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition.



  1. In 1054, there was an East/West split in Christianity based largely around the idea of one Pope as the leader of Christendom. Eastern bishops and churches (which were almost always state supported) believed that they each controlled their territories.

  2. In Orthodox Christianity, they used Greek instead of Latin and developed a number of very different practices including iconography

Keeping in mind that in the 17th and 18th century, Western Europeans saw the differences between being Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist as worthy of starting a war, what how do you think Western Europeans thought of people who practiced Orthodox Christianity?


Pretend you were a minor Hapsburg ruler (a Baron of Baroness) living in Austria in 1700. A friend in England writes to you and asks you to describe what Russia is like. Write your answer below (keep in mind who you are and who your audience is)



Peter the Great “westernizedthe Russian state and society, transforming political, religious, and cultural institutions; Catherine the Great continued this process.
1. How did Peter the Great westernized and transformed Russian political Institutions (Give two specific examples and explain why they were transformative.)

2. Give one example of how Catherine the Great continued this process.

3. How did Peter the Great westernized and transformed Russian religious Institutions (Give a specific example and explain why it was transformative.)

4. How did Peter the Great westernized and transformed Russian cultural Institutions (Give TWO specific examples and explain why they were transformative.)



5. Give TWO examples of how Catherine the Great continued this process (make sure you connect your examples to the Enlightenment)

6. In the space below create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the absolute monarchs Louis XIV and Peter the Great.


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