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History of Russia: A look at the Russian political gravity

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  1. Introduction.
    1. Autocratic rule in Russia.
    2. The Kievan state.
  2. Appanage Russia.
    1. The center of Russian political gravity.
    2. Ivan III's defeat of the Mongols.
    3. Ivan III's formal introduction of a new centralizing rule and a struggle for power.
  3. Measures to counter the interests of the Muscovite aristocracy.
  4. Time of Troubles: the ongoing struggle between the centralizing powers in Moscow and the decentralizing interests of the Boyars.
  5. The beginning of Imperial Russia.
    1. Peter's tradition treading reign.
    2. The provincial reforms of 1775.
    3. The autocracy and the nobility on relatively firm footing together.
  6. Post-emancipation Russia.
    1. Characterized by rapid modernization.
    2. Nicolas II's pursuit of the preservation of the autocracy.
  7. The primary ingredients of early Russia.
    1. The Kievan state as a product of the already existing, rudimentary internal order of the Slavic princes.
    2. Kiev's failure to become a solidly unified state.
    3. Insulation of Novgorod to counter Mongol rule.
  8. The beginning of Imperial Russia and her official Westernization.
    1. Russia galvanized as a European power.
  9. Conclusion - The progress in the 19th Century.

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. [...]

[...] Besides bringing about a number of reforms that strengthened Russia as a state, such as establishing the first, permanent, regular military regiments in Russian history, the streltsy, Ivan IV intensified efforts to crush the power of the Boyars, who resisted centralized power, still clinging to the patrimonial land system (appanage), where that owns the land rules Among a number of tumultuous measures enacted to counter the interests of the Muscovite aristocracy, such as the creation of the Oprichina, Ivan IV, like his predecessor, Ivan III, supported the creation of a new service gentry class, or alternate nobility, of landowners indebted to the autocracy who, in effect, undermined the power of the Boyars. [...]

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