There are many periods in Russian history that can capture one’s attention. Probably the biggest one is the era of the Soviet Union
. Partly because it was more recent and partly because of the reputation it had. By that I mean the relationship USSR had with capitalistic America that can be best represented by Cold War
. It certainly created some tension between nations that can be seen even today. But what was Russia like before it became a communistic nation, that western world hated so much? Prior to Bolsheviks Revolution in 1917
, Russia was an empire. In fact, it was the third largest empire (we are talking about the landmass) in the world history behind the British and the Mongolian empires. So let’s take a look at history and how it affected Russia and its relationship with the rest of the world.
For a large portion of what is nearly a thousand years of history, Russian government structure was the monarchy. Tsar (the king of Russia) had absolute power over the land: laws, taxes, foreign politics, and etc. Well, what changed then in the Russian Empire? In the 18th
century, Russia started its territorial and cultural expansion. Peter the Great
took the throne and started with numerous reforms that would shape Russia into a more modern nation. At this time, the western world was growing through a major change in the Age of Enlightenment
and the Age of Exploration
. New ideas and new invention were flooding into Europe leading it to new heights of civilization. Russia was “behind”, or in Rousseau’s term still “savage” (meaning not lured by all the vices that new technology had to offer), or better definition would be Oriental. Peter, who received education abroad, decided to bring Russia up to speed with the rest of the western world. His reforms covered every aspect of the country: army, architecture, agriculture, building a navy, and so on and so forth. He won many wars and acquired many territories including the opening to the seas because he knew their importance in trading. Among his finest accomplishments was founding of St. Petersburg that he pronounced to be the new capital of Russia. In 1721 he took the title of Emperor, making Russia officially an Empire.
Peter’s accomplishments made Russia a tremendous military force with an immense territory. His reforms were furthered by his descendants. The most accomplished of whom is Catherine the Great
. The Empress, or in Russian terms Imperatriza, furthered Russian expansion and continued reforms of that made Russia great. She also promoted Russia culturally. Under her reign was the period of the Golden Age of Poetry
featuring names such as Pushkin
, Fet, Lermontov, and much more. All of Catherine’s accomplishments made Russia the force that threatened other major powers in Europe at that time: both military and economically (at that time Russia became the major sponsor of agricultural products in Europe. Adapting western technologies Russia was soon seen as that kind of huge, badass country with huge military and a strong navy. Its reputation was built through series of wars involving multiple European powers.
However, the progress in technology was continuing and Russia didn’t fully follow that progress. It was stuck with semi-old equipment and weaponry, while Europe, led by Britain was going through the Industrial Revolution
, that brought them to a new height of technological advancement. Even countries of the eastern world were adopting these new innovations. The clear example of Russian outmoded military was shown in Russo-Japanese War
Japan being a small island country was able to defeat huge Russian navy, due to the superior tactics and far better constructed ships. It was the first occasion, in which an eastern nation was able to defeat a major European power. It was further shown in World War I
, when Russian army being the largest standing army at that time suffered great losses and a humiliating defeat. It was at that time when Bolshevik party led by Vladimir Lenin
decided to overthrow the long-established monarchy in Russia. The emperor Nicolas II
was executed and the country was plunged into ruin and chaos. The Russian Empire ceased to exist after February Revolution
Being born and raised in Russia, I never knew about the perspective that other people had about Russia. I often hear jokes about Russia still being a communistic nation (some people actually think that Russia is still the Soviet Union), but people don’t actually know that government in Russia is called federal republic, similar to the democratic republic that U.S. has. Generally speaking, the history of Russian Empire might provide an insight to the person who isn’t familiar with Russia and judge it only by the cover (which is filled with stereotypes). Tying it to the insight of a human integration: have you ever had a moment in your life when you realized who you are? Or you found out your purpose in life? Or you suddenly figured out that what you have been seeing things wrong? I refer those types of situations that rarely happen in one’s life. Let’s get a clearer picture. Me, for example. Growing up in a Christian environment, I always viewed myself as a Christian, until I realized that my faith was largely based on what my parents and other people wanted me to believe. That’s when I decided to choose for myself what I want to believe and explore things without being influenced by Christian doctrine. Thus I conclude this blog post and moving onto the next step of integration: involvement.