History Of Russia :Russia is the largest country on Earth, spanning an incredible 17 millions square kilometers.
But if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering how it got so big, and how it has become such a powerful political and social entity in our modern world.
It not only takes the title of largest and most popular country and city in Europe, but also stretches far beyond Europe, across the Ural Mountains range into Asia.
Taking up the largest portion of the continent.
Principle history of the eastern Europe began with the people the greek Writers called “Slavs”.
The first russian state was founded when a Group of eastern Slavs late known as “The Rus'”, elected a Viking chieftain to be their prince in 882.
In the area between the Volga and Dnieper river basins.
The state was soon expanded into the lands once held by the nomadic steppe people from Asia.
The most important city they captured was Kiev, which is why historians refer to this part of Russia’s history as the “Kievan Rus'”.
The Rus’ spoke a Language called “Proto eastern-Slavic”, which would slowly evolve into Russian and Ukranian.
The medieval Rus’ state adopted Christianity in 988, when Vladimir I introduced the religion from the orthodox christian Byzantine Empire.
This is also why the Russians use the cyrillic rather than the latin alphabet, common in most catholic nations.
The Rus’ state slowly fragmented into competing princedoms, largely aided by the Death of Yarolsav the Wise in XI century.
The Rus’ were often at war with the nomadic tribes we will just call for simplicity’s sakes “Steppe Peoples”.
History Of Russia
These steppe peoples are integral to much of the history of Asia and you’ll see various facts on them popping up on all over the place.
Most steppe peoples originated from the Euariasan Steppes. Go and figure.
And they were very good at horse riding and archery, such as the Volga Bulgars, Khazars and Kipchaks.
So with that out of the way we can talk about the Mongols, who the Rus’ called Tartars.
Under Genghis and Batu Khan, they invaded all the way into Western Kievan Rus’ and established a state called “The Golden Horde”.
With the Rus’ princedoms as their Vassals.
The Mongol Empire quickly fracted into smaller khanates, along for the growth of more powerful states such as Poland, Lithuania, and the grand Duchy of Moscow.
By 1480, both states absorded much of the Golden Horde, becoming more rivals with each other, then with the Tartars.
By 1547, Moscow had become a regional power, with Ivan the Terrible being crowned the first Tsar, the russian word for “Caesar”.
After all they did see themselves as the spiritual successors of the Romans, and the last remnant of the orthodox christianity.
Ivan also renamed the state “Russia”, after the Rus’, who inhabited it.
In 1580, Russia conquered the khanates of Sibir, marking the first time Russia had expanded east of the Ural Mountains into Asia.
The Russians renamed the mysterious lands “Siberia”, after the khanate had conquered.
And do you think they stopped there? Well, spoiler alert: NO.
In 1601 the Russians faced a succession crisis as the beginning of the Time of Trobules.
The country was in anarchy. And in danger of being absorbed by Poland.
Up to 1 of 3 of population died, either due to war famine or plague.
By 1613, the Russiand elected Mikhail Romanov as the new Tsar, established in the Romanov dynasty for the rest of the country’s history.
Mikhail ended the wars and began a slow process of rebuilding the fragmented country.
From this point until the XIX century, Russia’s economy was propped up by serfdom, effectilvely protecting Russia’s rich and powerful by turning all the peasants into hereditary slaves.
Yeah, history sucks sometimes.
By 1667, Russia had become powerful enough to win the Russo-Polish war with the help of the subjugated steppe peoples called “Cossacks”.
They expanded their territory into southeast, and part of Poland.
The poles in the Russia had informally nicknamed the area “Ukrania”, derived from an old slavic word, “Borderland”. Get it because it was the border between Russia, Polands and the Cossacks.
Very creative. Anyway.
One of Russia’s most famous Tsar was Peter the Great. Peter was a reformer. He modernized the army, built the Empire’s first navy, traveled the west and brought back ideas and technology of the enlightenment.
And also fashionable French cloathing.
He also expanded Russia’s influence in the Black and Baltic seas.
The guy was basically in love with the west.
After capturing the baltic sea port from the Swedish Empire, and the Great Northen War, Peter built a new city and founded it as the country’s new capital. Saint Petersburg.
Russia also fought in the Seven Years War vying for power with the european neighbours.
Another formidable Russian ruler was Catherine the Great. Who was?
Well.. not really russian at all, she was born in Germany. And she killed her husband and seized the throne for herself.
Her reign was one of reform and domination of the Crimean Khanate, as well as openly embracing the enlightment.
In the mid XVIII century, the polish government collapsed due to a parliamentary limber.
And the surrounding Austria, Prussia and Russia, split the country in three, during the Polish Partitions, effectively wiping the country off the map for the next century.
Just in time for the Napoleonic Wars.
Russia, just like the other europeans monarchies of the time, feared the repercussion of the french revolution.
And joined the second, third, and fourth coalitions against Napoleon.
But they usually lost pretty badly.
The french army captured the abandoned Moscow in 1812. However, the Russians would not surrender, preferring to burn the fields that the French hoped to leave off.
After waiting a few months, Napoleon retreated from Russia due to lack of supplies before considering the Russians surrender.
And when the snow set in and killed most of the french army, the tide was turned in Russia’s favor.
Russia’s territorial gains had become so ambitious, that it triggered a war with france and england, who helped the ottomans in the crimean war.
In 1861 Russia abolished serfdom in an event now known as the emancipation.
Also, in the period between Napoleon and the emancipation, it’s worthwhile to know that Russia expanded its territory into Turkestan, China the Southern Caucasus, Finland, and Russian America.
And were not for the Crimean war, they almost certainly would have won the entire black sea.
They really loved land.
In 1894, Tsar Nicholas II and the mystic Rasputin, who people thought secretly controlled him, became the last emperor of Russia.
There were revolts against the political system for many decades and monarchy was slowly losing its power.
As an ally of Serbia, Russia aimed to protect the Baltic Slavs from the Astro-Hungarian invasion during World War I.
The chaos and famine of the war led to the two Russian Revolutions.
The first opposed the Tsar and set up the provincial government, highly influenced by the Soviets.
The Soviets were basically workers unions inspired by Marxisism.
Vladimir Lenin’s bolshievik party came to power in the soviets and seized power in the october revolution, creating the R.S.F.S.R.
And the Russian civil war between the reds and the whites.
The civil war led to the breakaway of Poland and Baltic States and Finland.
In 1922, the R.S.F.S.R. was renamed the U.S.S.R., a much catchier name.
After the Death of Lenin, Russia’s most famous communist era dictator came to power, Joseph Stalin.
Born in the old Russian Empire now modern-day Georgia, Stalin was an aggressive expansionist, go and figure.
He had aims of spreading communism throughout the world.
He also resented Russia’s territorial losses during the civil war.
He killed an exiled millions of people he deemed anti-revolutionary.
With failed diplomacy with the western european nations, Stalin entered into the non-aggression pact with the Nazi-Germany.
Hoping to regain much of the land lost in the first World War in Poland and Baltic Sea.
On the 1st and 17th of September, Germany and Russia invaded and divided Poland in two, beginning the second World War.
Originally, in an uneasy alliance with Hitler, the tide of war turned with Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union.
The invasion killed more troops than any other theatre of battle and German’s armies came just 24 kilometers from Moscow.
However the winter blizzard set in, turning the battle in the Soviets’ favor.
After the defeat of nazi germanies, Stalin held on to the Soviets occupied territories, enveloping them into the USSR or creating communist puppet states.
The western allies treated the Soviet block with suspicion, in which the Soviets developed nuclear weapons and became one of the most powerful nations in history.
The USSR was the first nation to put a man in space during the American-Soviet space race.
After decades of poverty and political unrest, as well as involvement in numerous proxy wars with the united states, the USSR finally collapsed.
Under the weight of the one party communist state.
The Russian Federation was formed as a nearly democratic republic.
The two most important easter block states, Poland and East Germany, broke away from russian control.
And the eastern part of Russia also broke away, to form two new countries.
Belarus, or “White Russia”, and Ukraine.
The rise of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, into the prime ministry and presidency of Russia, brought with it renewed foreign policy.
Putin became involved in the Syrian civil war, the east Russian separatism movement in Ukraine and the politics of many eastern-europeans countries.
Modern day Russia’s future is uncertain, as is the motives of its leader.
However, the nation is in a state of peace, will be hosting the football world cup in 2018, and is emerging once again as a world superpower.