Russian History

Russian History:

Russia in the middle ages:

Russia was inhabited by Slavic tribes in the early 9th century. Vikings forged them into a nation centered on Kiev in the late 9th century. (First the Vikings captured Novgorod in the year of 862 and Kiev in the year of 882). The new nation was called as Rus and in time its Viking rulers adopted native customs & language. They were assimilated to Russian society. Kievan Rus was powerful nation and traded along with the Byzantine Empire.

Although after the ruler Yarolslav the Wise (lived 978-1054 and reigned 1019-1054) died Rus separate into a federation of Princedoms. Additionally the economic significance of Rus dropped off. The centre of European trade shifted to Germany and Italy from the 12th century.

In the year of 1088 Prince Vladimir converted to Greek Orthodox Christianity. His people followed.

In 1169 Kiev was then captured by Andrew Bogolysubsky, a Prince through the northeast. However he was assassinated in the year of 1774 and the Russians continued to quarrel among themselves.

The Tartars in Russia:

In the mid 13th century the Mongols stormed to Eastern Europe. Khan Batu, the grandson of Genghis Khan invaded Russia in the year of 1237. He captured & destroyed Moscow and Ryazan then Vladimir. Then the Tartars or Mongols marched towards Novgorod however they were slowed by the thaw in the spring of the year of 1238. So they turned south. In the year of 1240 they destroyed Kiev. In the year of 1242 Batu established himself as ruler of a large part of Eastern Europe, by including Russia. His realm was called as the Khanate of the Golden Horde. Its capital was at Sarai.

However, at first the Tartars destroyed towns & villages and massacred the inhabitants afterwards they let the Russian principalities run themselves (though they were forced to pay honor to the Tartars and to supply soldiers for their army).

Furthermore the Tartars did not invade the Principality of Novgorod. The ruler Alexander Nevsky submitted voluntarily. In the year of 1240 he defeated the Swedes on the Neva and in the year of 1242 he crushed the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of the Ice (on the frozen Lake Peipus). Although,  he decided to submit to the Tartars wisely.

In the year of 1263 his son Daniel became Prince of Moscow. Daniel annexed big amounts of surrounding territory before his death in the year of 1303. His policy of annexing territory was continued by his successors. Huge amounts were taken throughout the reigns of Dmitry Donoskoy (1359-1389) & vasily (1389-1425). Or gradually Muscovy or Moscow became more and more important. In the year of 1326 the Metropolitan moved to Moscow.

The Lithuanians attacked Moscow however failed to capture it in 1368 & 1372.

Then Prince Dmitry defeated the Tartars at Kulikovo in 1380. In the year of 1382, however, the Tartars captured Moscow and burned it, though Dmitry was permitted to remain its prince. Yet the Tartar yoke was removed gradually as the Golden Khanate broke up.

In the years 1438-39 the Greek Orthodox Church united with the Catholic Church temporarily. The Russians were extremely offended. The union was refuse in Russia. Furthermore in the year of 1449 the Russian Church split from the Greek Orthodox Church.

Tartar dominance was finally extinguished in the year of 1480 in Russia. A Tartar army marched to Russia to demand tribute that had not been paid for four years. Though , they hesitated while their Polish allies did not turn up. Eventually the Tartars withdrew & gave up all claims to tribute.

At that time Russia was ruled through Ivan III (1462-1505). Greatly he enhanced the territory of Russia. In the year of 1471-78 gradually he conquered Novgorod and eventually he became ruler of mostly Russian people. The final independent parts of Russia were taken through his son Vasili III.

Russia in the 16th Century:

Russia had far more contact with Western Europe in the 16th century. Various European craftsmen came to work in Russia. In the year of 1553 the English attained northwest Russia by sea & began trading. In the year of 1563, the primary printing press was introduced into Russia.

Meanwhile in the year of 1533 Ivan IV, also known as Ivan the Terrible inherited the throne of Russia. However he was only three years old and he did not get power till the year of 1547. He was crowned Czar, a word derived from the Roman Caesar.

Ivan expanded Russian territory. The Golden Horde had broken up however Ivan warred against one its successors, the Kazan Khanate. He beaten Kazan in the year of 1552 and conquered it subsequently. In the year of 1554-56 Ivan conquered Astrakhan. However in the year of 1571 the Crimean Khan captured and burned Moscow however the next year he was decisively defeated by the Russians. In the year of 1582 Ivan conquered the Khanate of Sibir (which gave its name to Siberia).

In the meantime Ivan degenerated into a tyrant. In the year of 1565 he formed a private army called the Oprichnina. They were totally loyal to him and they killed anyone suspected of being the Czar's enemy. In the year of 1570 The Oprichniks sacked Novgorod since Ivan believed the Novgorodians were collaborating along with his enemies the Poles. The Oprichniks massacred inhabitants, killing thousands. The Metropolitan of Moscow denounced Ivan's cruelty and consequently he was strangled.

Ivan also devised horrific methods of torturing and killing anyone he suspected of being an opponent. Ivan even killed his own son and heir by hitting him with an iron tipped staff. Finally Ivan died in 1584.

Ivan's son Theodore was a weak ruler. He died in the year of 1598 without leaving an heir. Although , he turned the peasants into serfs by eliminating their right to leave their masters.

Russia in the 17th Century:

Boris Godunov, his brother-in-law, was persuaded to take the throne of Russia. Unluckily Russia suffered from famine in the year of 1601-1603. Worse while Boris died in the year of 1605 Russia entered a period of turmoil.

The Time of Troubles:

In the year of 1603 a man turned up claiming to be Ivan the Terrible's youngest son Dmitry in Poland. In realism Dmitry had his throat cut in the year of 1591. Though the pretender, known as False Dmitry raised an army of Poles & rebel Russians and advanced on Moscow in the year of 1605. Conveniently Boris died and Dmitry captured Moscow where he became Tsar or Czar. However his reign was short lived. He was replaced through Prince Vasily Shusky in the year of 1606. Then Russia descended into anarchy. There were many uprisings and order was not restored until the year of 1613 when a man named Michael Romanov was made Tsar of Russia.

In the year of 1645 he was succeeded by his son Alexis known as 'Most Gentle'. The Ukrainians, who were ruled by the Poles, sought protection from Russia during his reign. They formed a union with Russia in 1654. Then the Poles went to war against Russia but they were defeated. Russia gained all of the Ukraine east of the Dneiper & Kiev and Smolensk in 1667.
In the meantime, Russian settlers moved into Siberia. In 1648 the Bering Straits were discovered and in the late 17th century various Russians moved into the area. In the year of 1689 the Russians made a treaty with the Chinese which fixed the border among them.

Alexis also made a new code of laws in the year of 1649. The peasants lost the vestiges of freedom.

However, a Cossack named Stepan Razin led a rebellion against the Russian landlords in 1670-71. However his rebellion was crushed and he was executed.

In the 17th century, Russia was also torn by schism. Patriarch Nikon, in 1652-1666 decided to 'update' books utilized by the Russian church by making sure they were translated correctly from the Greek originals. He hoped to eliminate any mistakes that had crept in over the years. He also made some modification to church rites. However some of the Russians denied accepting the changes. They were called Old Believers and they were persecuted mercilessly.

Alexis was followed by his son Fyodor III (1676-1682) who in turn was followed by the great Tsar Peter.

Peter the Great:

However it looked, at first as if Fyodor's 15 year old brother Ivan might claim the throne but he had low intelligence. Thus the patriarch called a meeting of powerful Russians & they proclaimed Ivan's half brother Peter Tsar even though he was only 9 years old.

However shortly afterwards Ivan's sister Sophia staged a coup, although Peter was not eliminated completely. Instead Ivan was made a Co-Tsar alongside him. As both of the boys were underage Sophia was made regent.

In the year of 1689 Sophia plotted to seize the throne however Peter's supporters staged a coup and sent her to a convent.

Peter did not lastly gain power in Russia until the year of 1694. When he did he was determined to bring Russia up to date. In the year of 1696-97 he travelled to the west. Whereas he was away Sophia's supporters staged a rebellion. Though the rebellion was crushed and whereas Peter returned he executed over 1,000 people.

In the meantime Peter embarked on his plan to modernize Russia. He built up a navy and in the year of 1696 he captured Azov from the Turks.

While the patriarch died in the year of 1700 Peter refused to replace him. Instead he composed a body called a Holy Synod to head the Russian Orthodox Church. The church was created subordinate to the Tsar and was meant to serve him.

In northwest Russia Peter also founded a port called St Petersburg. The new city was constructed in the years 1703-1712. Big numbers of peasants were conscripted to perform the work and several thousands of them died due to the harsh conditions. Peter imposed heavy taxation on his people also.

Russia in the 18th Century:

In the year of 1700 Peter the Great went to war along with Sweden in what became known as The Great Northern War. (Poland & Denmark were his allies). In the year of 1700 the Russians were defeated at Neva. However in the year of 1709 the Swedes invaded Ukraine and were crushed at the Battle of Poltava. In the year of 1721 the Russians & Swedes established peace. Russia gained Estonia and land around the Gulf of Finland.

Though , Peter was less successful against the Turks. In the year of 1710 he went to war with them but in the year of 1711 his army was beaten and he was forced to make peace. Russia was enforced to return Azov. Though, Peter did prevail in a war against Persia in the year of 1722-23.

n the year of 1724, Peter was the Great founded the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Peter the Great died in 1725:

He was succeeded by Catherine I. She was followed by Peter II in the year of 1727. Anna followed him. Whereas she died in the year of 1740 a small child named Ivan VI became Tsar but he died in the year of 1741. Empress Elizabeth replaced him. She seized throne along the help of Palace guards. She ruled till the year of 1761.

Russia fought a successful war with the Turks in the years 1736-39 during her reign. Consequently the Russians regained Azov.

Peter III became Tsar in the year of 1762 but he reigned for only a few months. Supporters of his wife Catherine assassinated him in year of 1762. She became known as Catherine the Great.

Catherine the Great:

Although she liked to be seen as an enlightened despot and she corresponded along with Voltaire & Diderot several of Catherine's subjects were oppressed and poor. In the year of 1773 man named Yemelyan Pugachev led a rebellion. The rebellion had considerable success however finally it was crushed in the year of 1774. Pugachev was brought to Moscow in an iron cage. He was beheaded and his body was cut down into quarters.

Afterwards, in the year of 1775, Catherine reformed local government. In the year of 1785 she gave the gentry (wealthy landowners) a charter (a document granting or confirming certain rights).

In the mean while Russia continued to expand in the 18th century. Russia fought successful war with the Turks in the year of 1768-1774. Consequently the Russians gained land by the Black Sea. In the year of 1783 Russia took the Crimea. The Turks lost till more territory after a war in the year 1787-1791.

Meanwhile Russia took parts of Poland. In the year of 1772 Russia, Prussia & Austria helped themselves to a slice of Polish territory each. Prussia & Russia helped themselves to more Polish territory in the year of 1793. At last in the year of 1795 Russia, Prussia and Austria divided up what was left of Poland between them.

Catherine was succeeded by her son Paul I. In the year of 1797 he passed a law that in future the eldest son should inherit the throne of Russia. He joined the war against France in the year of 1798 but withdrew in the year of 1800. Paul was assassinated in the year of 1801.

Russia in the 19th Century:

He was followed by his son Alexander I (1801-1825). Alexander reformed government. He also constructed new schools and five new universities in Russia.

In the year of 1805 Alexander joined the fight against Napoleon. Though the Russians were defeated and in the year of 1807 the Tsar made peace. In the year of 1808-09 Russia fought Sweden. Alexander captured Finland. Though, he agreed to rule Finland as a 'Grand Duke' not a Tsar. The Finns were let to have their own assembly same to a parliament.

War with France started again in the year of 1812. This time Napoleon invaded Russia along with a vast army. The Russians retreated although they made a stand at the battle of Borodino in September. The French captured Moscow, which burned down (it is not sure who started the fire) in October 1812. In November Napoleon retreated but mostly army died of starvation, cold & disease. In the year of 1813 Prussia & Austria joined the struggle against Napoleon. The French were defeated at Leipzig and in the year of 1814 the allies entered Paris in October 1813.

Alexander died in the year of 1825 and after his death a rebellion occurred. Some of the Russian officers were affected by the ideas of the French revolution and composed a secret society. The Decembrists (as they were called) attempted a coup in December 1825. They collected in Senate Square in the capital however troops loyal to the Tsar opened fire and dispersed them. Later on 5 rebels were hanged. In Russia Nevertheless the attempted uprising was a foretaste of things to come.

Following the events of December 1825 the new Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855) was resolute to stamp out any revolutionary movements. He composed a police force to detect revolutionaries. All of the writings were censored rigorously.

In the year of 1830 Poland (which was ruled by Russia) rose in rebellion. The rebellion was crushed ruthlessly. Furthermore in the year of 1849 the Tsar intervened in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to crush a Hungarian uprising.

The Crimean War:

In the year of 1853 came the Crimean War. The Turkish Empire, which included the Balkans, was declining during the 19th century. The Russian Tsar was eager to take advantage of the decline of Turkey. Though, the British were alarmed as they feared that if Russia expanded into southern Asia she might threaten the British hold on India. The French became involved due to an argument over who must control the holy places of Palestine (modern day Israel) French Catholics or Orthodox Christians. The French ruler, Napoleon III was eager to fight a successful war as he believed it would enhance his support in France and utilized the situation to engineer a war.

The Russians occupied what is now Rumania, (that was part of the Turkish Empire) in July 1853. Additionally the Russian navy sank various Turkish ships in the Black Sea. Turkey declared war on 16 October 1853 on Russia.

Britain and France both went to war with Russia on 28 March 1854. The war became known as the Crimean War because mostly fighting took place there. The Russians were forced to withdraw from what is Rumania now. However Napoleon III persuaded the British to help him to attempt and capture the Russian fort of Sevastopol arguing that it was a threat to the security of the entire region.

The British army was led by Lord Raglan. The French was led by Marshal Saint-Arnaud while the Turks were led through Omar Pasha. On 14 September 1854The British & French landed in the Crimea. On 20 September 1854, they won a victory at the River Alma but they failed to take Sevastopol. The Russians attacked at the battle of Balaklava but were repulsed on 25 October 1854. On 5 November 1854 they tried again at Inkerman however again they were repulsed. The allies they dug in for a long siege. However the British army was unprepared and terribly suffered during the Russian Winter.

The kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia declared war on Russia on 26 January 1855.

Then early year of 1855 the Tsar died. Lord Raglan also died in June 1855. He was replaced by General James Simpson. Then the French won a victory at Chernaya in August 1855. The allies captured Sevastopol on 8 September 1855. The new Tsar, Alexander II made peace by the treaty of Paris in March 1856.

Alexander II was a reforming Tsar. His great attainment was to abolish serfdom in the year of 1861. Also in the year of 1864 the judiciary was made independent.

However Alexander's reforms did not avoid the revolutionary movements rising stronger. An attempt was made to assassinate the Tsar in the year of 1866. Another was made in the year of 1867. In the year of 1879 the Imperial train was derailed in yet another effort to kill him. Finally Alexander was assassinated in March 1881 while a man named Ignatius Grinevitsky threw a grenade at him.

Alexander II was replaced through Alexander III. The new Tsar was fined out to clamp down on all dissent. During his reign (1881-1894) nevertheless revolutionary movements continued to grow.

In the mean time at the end of the 19th century the industrial revolution attained Russia. In the year of 1880s Russia was till an agricultural society. It was backward compared to many European countries. However from approximate 1890 Russia started to change rapidly into an industrial country.

Constructing the trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok began in the year of 1891. It was completed in the year of 1905.

Alexander III was succeeded by Nicholas II. He was a weak ruler who led Russia into a disastrous war with Japan.

Russia in the Early 20th Century:

In the late 19th century Russia enhanced its influence in the Pacific region. However Japan was a growing power in the area. In the year of 1898 Russia leased bases in Manchuria. Other powers demanded that Russia leave however she avoided their wished. At last on 9 February 1904 the Japanese attacked the Russian base at Port Arthur. The Japanese won victories on land and at sea. Port Arthur surrendered on 2 January 1905. In February-March 1905 the Japanese won a battle at Mukden. Then the Japanese navy won a resounding victory at Tsushima in May 1905. In the year of 1905 the Russians were forced to make a humiliating peace, the Treaty of Portsmouth.

The 1905 revolution started while  Father George Gapon led a peaceful march on Sunday 22 January 1905. The marchers desired higher pay and a 10-hour working day. They marched via St Petersburg to the Winter Palace. Though , the palace guard opened fire killing hundreds of people. Following 'bloody Sunday' by peasants there were riots and Russia was hit by a wave of strikes. There were also mutinies in the navy and army. At last in October 1905 Russia was paralyzed by a general strike. Nicholas II was enforced to give in and agreed to form a representative assembly called a Duma.

Though, Nicholas had no intention of loosing up his position as autocrat (sole ruler). Four Dumas were held however each one had less power than the last. By the year of 1917 the Russian people were disillusioned and were desire to support another revolution.

One ominous occurrence was the rise up of Marxism in Russia. Marxism was the development of Karl Marx (1818-1883). According to him society went through an inevitable series of stages ending in Communism. He said, the industrial workers would inevitably grow up against the capitalists and Capitalism would be replaced through Socialism in which the state would own industry. Though, the state would 'wither away' leaving a classless society or Communism. Unnecessary to say the promised utopia never materialized. Marxism was a foolish dream.

A Marxist party was composed in Russia in the year1898. At a meeting in the year of 1903 it split in two groups. The Bolsheviks (from the Russian word for majority) & the Mensheviks (from the word for minority). Though, the Bolsheviks were not the majority in the party they were the majority at one particular meeting only.

Then in the year of 1914 came the First World War. The Russian army was severely defeated at Tannenberg in September 1914. Russia never really recovered. The Tsar took command of the Russian army in March 1915. (Therefore He could be held personally responsible for its failures). Russia continued to suffer terrible losses and the country 'bled to death'.

The Tsarist regime was also discredited through its link with Georgi Rasputin c.1872-1916. Supposedly, he was a holy man who came to St Petersburg in the year of 1903. People believed Rasputin had the power to heal diseases. From the year of 1905 the Tsar's wife Alexandra came under his effects. She believed he could heal her son Alexi, who was a haemophiliac. (Rasputin might have utilized hypnosis to calm the boy and stop him bleeding). Though, Rasputin was a scandalous figure, known for, womanizing, drinking and generally outrageous behavior. In December 1916, he was finally assassinated.

The Bolshevik Revolution:

The provisional government lost support due to its failure to end the war, which had cost so several lives and its failure to pass social reforms. Several Russians were impatient for peace and for radical reforms. Lenin appealed to them with his slogan Bread! Peace! Land!

The Bolsheviks had much support amongst soldiers in Petrograd. The Bolsheviks led them in a revolt in Petrograd on 6 November 1917. They seized key buildings. They seized the winter palace and arrested most of the provisional government (Kerensky escaped and fled abroad) on 7 November 1917. The Bolsheviks quickly seized central Russia.

Before its downfall for elections the provisional government had arranged to a representative assembly. The Bolsheviks allow the elections go ahead. However in the assembly they won only 168 places out of 703. While it was clear the new assembly did not support them the Bolsheviks closed it by force.

Additionally the Communists had to fight a long civil war before they controlled all of Russia. The war among the 'reds' & the 'whites' lasted till the year 1921 and it devastated Russia. In the year of 1921-1922 Worse Russia suffered severe famine in which many people died. In the meantime the Tsar and his family were murdered in the year of 1918. However time was running out for Lenin. In the year of 1922 he suffered the first of a series of stokes and he died in January 1924.

Following Lenin's death the cunning & devious Stalin (Josef Vissarionovich Dzugashvili 1879-1953) took power. He had made himself dictator by 1928. His major enemy Leon Trotsky (Lev Devidovich Bronstein 1879-1940) was exiled the year of 1929. In the year of 1940 he was assassinated in Mexico.

Soon Stalin proved to be an evil tyrant who murdered millions of people.

In the year of 1929 he ended the new economic rule and replaced it with a series of five years plans. Heavy industry was to be expanded greatly. In the countryside the peasants were to be forced to join together in collective farms.

Stalin was finding out to crush the Ukrainian peasants and he reasoned a terrible famine in the year of 1932-33 that took the lives of millions of innocent people. In the year of 1932 collective farms were given totally unrealistic quotas to fill. Soviet law decreed that the peasants would not be allowed to keep any grain till they had met their quotas. Of course, They could not meet them so Soviet officials simply confiscated all the grain they wished leaving the peasants to starve. How several people died in this man-made famine is not known for sure however it was possibly about 7 million.

In the year of 1934 Stalin started a series of 'purges' in which millions of people died. The purges are called as the Great Terror. They started while Sergei Kirov was assassinated. He was perhaps murdered on Stalin's orders. Nevertheless Stalin utilized it as an excuse to eliminate his enemies (or anyone he thought might be an enemy). In the year of 1937-38 Stalin 'purged' the officers in the red army. Around 80% of the generals and 50% of the colonels were executed. So the red army was weakened only when Russia was facing a threat from Nazi Germany.

Furthermore under Stalin the churches were persecuted in the 1930s. Thousands of clergymen were arrested & propaganda for atheism was extensive.

In spite of  Stalin's terrible crimes Russian industry grew rapidly in the years 1929-1941.

In the year of 1939 Stalin made a non-aggression pact with Hitler. In 1939 the two men divided Poland between them. Then Stalin demanded that Finland provide him territory, which he hoped would make Russia simpler to defend. Whereas the Finns refused Stalin went to war. On 30 November 1939, the Russians attacked Finland. Initially the Finns successfully resisted however superior Russian numbers overwhelmed them eventually. In March 1940 the Finns surrendered.

In the year of 1940 Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania were still independent. they red army entered However them and they were absorbed into the Soviet Union in the summer.

In spite of the non-aggression pact of 1939 the Germans invaded Russia in June 1941. Stalin was taken through surprise and the Russians suffered heavy losses. Finland, Rumania & Hungary assisted the Germans. Though, the Russians get substantial material aid from the USA and Britain.

The Russians and Germans fought a great tank battle at Kursk in July 1943. The result was a resounding Russian victory. Later on the red army advanced quickly. They liberated Kiev in November 1943.

Early in the year of 1944 the red army entered the Baltic States. They began a massive offensive in central Europe in June. On 23 August 1944Rumania surrendered. Although Bulgaria was not officially at war along with Russia she had helped the Germans. Thus in September Russia declared war and occupied Bulgaria. Finland surrendered in September 1944.

The Russians advanced across Poland in January 1945. They entered Berlin in April. On 8 May 1945, the Second World War ended
The 'Great Patriotic War' as it was called in Russia caused terrible suffering to the Russian people. Millions of them died.

Russia in the Late 20th Century:

While Germany surrendered the red army was left occupying Eastern Europe. Thus Stalin installed puppet regimes in each of the country. Stalin also clamped down on his own people. Fortunately in March 1953he died.

After Stalin died life relaxed a little in Russia. Russia was still a totalitarian regime. Religious believers were tilling persecuted. So were dissidents (intellectuals who disagreed along with communism). However, the terrible purges were over. (Although Beria the head of Stalin's secret police was, deservedly, executed in the year of 1953 after plotting a coup).

Initially it was not clear who would succeed Stalin. However Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) had emerged as the new ruler of Russia by 1956. Khrushchev made a secret speech to the 20th Party Congress whereby he denounced the Stalinist terror in February 1956. (The speech was published soon abroad but it was not published in Russia till 1989).

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