History, Technology and Russian Values

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Major Themes of Russian History


Formation of Russia; The Early Era


Growth of the Russian Empire

Romanov Dynasty, 1613-1917

Eastward Expansion

Surprisingly little opposition to eastward expansion. One possible explanation: Mongol culture saw no disgrace in submitting to a more powerful authority (it was viewed as sharing in his power), and by absorbing formerly Mongol lands, Tsars may have been seen as legitimate successors of Mongol Khans.

Westward Expansion

Westernization


1801-1917 Reform and Reaction

The plight of 19th Century tsars might be likened to someone who discovers the safety valve on a boiler has been blocked. Do you attempt to lessen the pressure and risk an explosion, or keep the valve blocked and postpone the disaster as long as possible?

Paul I, 1796-1801

Catherine had to struggle bitterly to keep her throne in her early years, and kept her weakling son out of the loop as he grew up. His reign was predictably brief.

Alexander I, 1801-1825 (Reform)

Decembrist Revolt, 1825. First attempt to establish a democracy in Russia.

Nicholas I, 1825-1855 (Reaction)

Visit of DeCustine, 1839

This flawed French writer witnessed the dark underside of Russian life. His writings, rediscovered by Westerners during the 1930's, show a Russia scarcely distinuguishable from Stalin's

Alexander II, 1855-1881 (Reform)

Alexander III, 1881-1894 (Reaction)

Lesson learned: Reforms get tsars killed. Avoid them.

Nicholas II, 1894-1917 (Somewhat Reactionary)

In other times, Nicholas might have lived out his reign as a well-meaning if somewhat inept autocrat

Basic problems


End of the Empire

Alexander III, 1881-1894

Nicholas II, 1894-1917

Revolution 1917


The Soviet Experience

1940-45 World War II -- The Great Fatherland War

The Cold War


Post-Cold War Russia

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Created 22 May 1997
Last Update 22 May 1997

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