Updated on September 8, 2014 James A Watkins moreJames Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and writer. James enjoys people, music, film, and books. He is a lifelong student of history. The history of Russia is intertwined with the history of Europe. The people of Russia are largely Slavs from Eastern Europe but the first Russian state was formed by Vikings warriors in the 9th Century. The name “Rus” was first used to refer to red-haired Vikings. The populace first began to call themselves Russians in the 14th Century. Russia thus became a country with a population comprised of a majority of Slavic Peoples, but ruled by a minority of powerful Scandinavians. It was an integral part of Christendom since the 10th Century. The Russian Orthodox Church long held sway over the worldview of the people. The country was greatly influenced in its early history by Byzantium and in its later history by Europe. Russia has long struggled to come to terms with its relationship with the West. Russia was a small nation 500 years ago but by the mid-eighteenth century it had become a huge international power. Vladimir the Great (958-1015) was the first prominent Russian Prince.
He and his country converted to Christianity in 988. Vladimir was the Prince of Kiev, Ukraine. Kiev was the capital of Russia until it was moved in 1308 to Moscow, which was founded in 1146. Kiev was not the original seat of power for the Russian people—that would be Novgorod. Ivan III (1440-1505) was the first Tsar (Czar or Caesar) of Russia. He was the man who shook of the yoke of both Islam and Catholicism, while firmly establishing his nation as part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Ivan III and his people considered Moscow to be the 3rd great city of Christendom, behind Rome and Constantinople. Moscow was remote but not isolated, and Ivan III had remodeled the Kremlin (fortified city) in a triangular shape filled with splendor. The Red Square became the center of Moscow and Russia. Ivan IV (1530-1584) is known as Ivan the Terrible. He slaughtered almost the entire population of Novgorod to affirm the supremacy of Moscow in Russia.
Ivan IV separated the Russian Orthodox Church from Eastern Orthodoxy. There was an interesting event in 1606. It seems an imposter named The False Dmitri I seized the throne for a year and was deposed in dramatic fashion: fired from a cannon in Red Square. Years of political confusion followed and the Swedes captured Novgorod while the Poles conquered Moscow. A reform of the law in 1649 systematized serfdom. The word serf means slave, though serfdom was a step up from outright slavery. There were many different levels of serfs, but generally speaking they were bound to work for a baron or knight in return for protection and sustenance. Peter the Great (1672-1725) is the man credited with making Russia a contemporary European nation by civilizing and modernizing (Westernizing) the state and its laws. Twentieth Century HistoryKim Il Sung, a Puppet or a Puppeteer? Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.
0 of 8192 characters usedPost CommentNo HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. You are quite welcome. I find it fascinating that you wrote a book about his second wife. What he said was that Europeans do not know what I had to put up with and this was true. What expert says he is a disgusting thug and a brute? He was a despot and as he said when fire meets hay it explodes but if it meets a brick it stops. I am not sure your sources really were objective or fair in describing him. He made a point to say that he was harsh but he did not punish those who were not guilty. As my teacher in Russian history and language said if the people were anything like his family it would take a lot to get them to change. Anyway I probably know too much about him because I wrote a book on his second wife.
You have done a good summary. AJRG— Thank you for reading my Hub and for commenting. Solzhenitsyn has condemned Peter the Great for his brutality toward his subjects. While many, including me, laud his achievements (I still call him ‘the great’), he is also described by objective historians as a despicable, wicked, vicious, disgusting thug; a despot and brute who exhibited barbaric cruelty. Although many of the people caught in his dragnets were innocent, the torture was so brutal and sadistic they would eventually confess to anything just to get it over with. At this point they were beheaded. Peter himself often took part in the beheadings himself. Their heads were impaled on spikes and left up there for public display for months. Not exactly Mother Theresa. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your fascinating comments. I think it is pretty well known that Soviet Russia had constant and plentiful breadlines due to the slavery of socialism. Your facts on Peter the Great are terrible. You do not know what you are talking about.