Autocratic rule in Russia initially evolved at odds with the interests of the landed gentry before finally undermining their power via the establishment of a service gentry, loyal to the state, and appeasing them with the slow institutionalization of serfdom. The primary ingredients of early Russia were the Slavic peoples who had migrated into the country, establishing tribal orders ruled by warrior princes, and the invading Varangians, or "Rus," of Scandinavian descent. On their way south to trade in Constantinople, the Varangians pillaged and plundered from the rudimentary, feudal city states along the route, eventually exacting tribute from the native Slavs. Despite what is alleged by the Primary Chronicle, the Varangians most likely imposed their rule over the Slavs, consequently settling and inter-populating with the conquered peoples. Thus, the unification of the Kievan state in early Russia was the product of the already existing, rudimentary internal order of the Slavic princes and the forceful, external influence of the invading Varangians.
[...] As a shrewd ruler, Catherine knew that her alliance with the Russian nobility was the cornerstone of her authority. Thus, when yet another major peasant rebellion, led by Emelian Pugachov, occurred, signaling the discrepancy between the reality of serfdom in Russia and the theory of Enlightenment ideas, Catherine, knowing that abolishing serfdom was unrealistic, tightened her alliance with the nobility to continue to control the peasantry. Beginning with the provincial reforms of 1775, Catherine decentralized governmental control over the nation, newly divided into 50 provinces, enhancing the role of the service gentry in provincial rule. [...]
[...] In the appanage system of the previous Russian age, the peasants had grown more and more tied to the land but had remained, for the most part, at least officially, free to move from the service of one landowner to the next. In the interests of enticing the new loyal nobility, the crown granted land often including the peasants who worked it, thus furthering the progression in Russia towards serfdom, the formal binding of the lower classes to the land. [...]
[...] Autocratic rule in Russia initially evolved at odds with the interests of the landed gentry before the two united in a mutually beneficial relationship where the autocracy granted land and the peasants who worked it in return for allegiance and military support, resulting in the slow institutionalization of serfdom in the name of centralizing power. loyal to the state, and appeasing them with the slow institutionalization of serfdom. To establish power as a function of allegiance, and thus centralizing influence, the autocracy succeeded in maintaining centralized influence from the nobility With land and the peasants who worked it serving as the prime currency of power in exchange for allegiance, the autocracy and the nobility secured their status through the slow institutionalization of serfdom. [...]
[...] Besides consummating the first semi-unified Russian state, Vladimir also left one of the most lasting marks on Russia's history by formally converting the state of Kiev Rus' to Orthodox Christianity in 988 A.D., thus providing the social cement for Russians as a common culture. Nevertheless, despite these developments, Kiev failed to become a solidly unified state as a result of internal and external factors. Internally, Kiev lacked a strong centralized government with a system of succession, eventually dissolving into warring factions ruled by the scattered nobility. [...]
[...] Before long, the center of Russian political gravity moved north, focused mainly in the city of Novgorod, a relatively insulated location for the Russians to regroup to counter Mongol rule. Meanwhile, a small, largely overlooked principality called Moscow was beginning to collect power as it steadily annexed territories around it in what would ultimately be called gathering of the lands.” By the 14th century, not only had a Muscovite prince, Ivan Kalita, been recognized by the Mongol Khan as the “Grand Prince of Russia,” but the head of the Russian Orthodox Church had moved to Moscow, both signaling the shifting political gravity. [...]
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