EURASIAN EMPIRE. A history of the Russian Empire from 1552 till today


A history of the Russian Empire from 1552 till today

Author: Helene Carrere d'Encausse

Publishing House: Orizonturi, 2008

The establishment of the Russian Empire was a process which spread on a period longer than three centuries. It actually comprised three waves which lasted from several centuries to a century and a half.

The name of Moscow appeared in chronicles in the year 1147, when prince Gheorghi Dolgoruki decided to establish his capital on the banks of river Moscow.

The small principality of Moscow, allied with the Mongols, attacked the separated Russian territories, then united them and imposed its hegemony. Under the rule of Ivan the Third, considered the great unifier of the Russian lands, the principality of Moscow succeeds to start Russia, which was "Eurasian" ever since its beginnings.

The newly established Russian state owned numerous military troops and so they started to conquest the neighboring territories. Russia was brought in Europe, as its victories opened its way towards west and south (in Poland and the seaside of the Black Sea).

The great historian Vasili Kliucevski summarized the evolution of this state as follows: "It was formed in the 14th century under the pressure of foreign rule; it was consolidated and it grew bigger in the 15th and 16th centuries and it fought for survival in the west, south and south-east."

The union of Ukraine with Russia was one of the greatest successes during the establishment of the empire, and "this success has balanced the empire and stopped it from turning totally towards its Asian pole".

In the year 1964, Peter the First took control over the territory around Moscow and during his dynasty, for thirty one years, Russia was transformed into a modern state, a real empire.

In an empire with so many religions, the imperial politics had a great deal of work in this domain: they had to protect the clergy and sometimes give them some privileges, specific social traditions had to be respected, and the modern society combined intellectual progress with traditions maintained.

The Russian fleet was destroyed by the Japanese in 1905 and that was seen as "the first defeat of the white man". It was a first stage in the revenge of the colonized people, and it marked the beginning of the revolution which, for twelve years, would throw out the monarchy and open "the prison of people".

The coup d'etat on October 25 1917 brings Bolshevik authority to power, and the author and leader of the coup, Lenin, planned to end the war and to "engage the international revolution". Until 1936, when a new constitution was adopted, Russia was removed from the collective mentality. The armed forces were purified politically but they still had a lot of troops, as they were more numerous than the Germans attackers.

The reforms initiated after March 11 1985, the date when Mikhail Gorbachev got to the top of the Communist Party, stopped the federal system which had been created in 1922, and the final document was signed on December 8th 1991. The end of the empire did not mean the end of Russia, as the liaisons between the former USSR states goes on!

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