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History of Russia

Occurrences and people in Russia throughout history

Top 10 History of Russia related articles

The Millennium of Russia monument in Veliky Novgorod (unveiled on 8 September 1862).

The history of Russia begins with the histories of the East Slavs.[1][2] The traditional start-date of specifically Russian history is the establishment of the Rus' state in the north in 862 ruled by Vikings.[3] Staraya Ladoga and Novgorod became the first major cities of the new union of immigrants from Scandinavia with the Slavs and Finno-Ugrians. In 882 Prince Oleg of Novgorod seized Kiev, thereby uniting the northern and southern lands of the Eastern Slavs under one authority. The state adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Orthodox Slavic culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state due to the Mongol invasions in 1237–1240 along with the resulting deaths of significant number of population.

After the 13th century, Moscow became a political and cultural center. Moscow has become a center for the unification of Russian lands. By the end of the 15th century, Moscow united the northeastern and northwestern Russian principalities, in 1480 finally overthrew the Mongol yoke. The territories of the Grand Duchy of Moscow became the Tsardom of Russia in 1547. In 1721 Tsar Peter the Great renamed his state as the Russian Empire, hoping to associate it with historical and cultural achievements of ancient Rus' – in contrast to his policies oriented towards Western Europe. The state now extended from the eastern borders of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth to the Pacific Ocean. Russia was a great power and dominated Europe after the victory over Napoleon. Peasant revolts were common, and all were fiercely suppressed. The Emperor Alexander II abolished Russian serfdom in 1861, but the peasants fared poorly and revolutionary pressures grew. In the following decades, reform efforts such as the Stolypin reforms of 1906–1914, the constitution of 1906, and the State Duma (1906–1917) attempted to open and liberalize the economy and political system, but the Emperor refused to relinquish autocratic rule and resisted sharing his power.

A combination of economic breakdown, war-weariness, and discontent with the autocratic system of government triggered revolution in Russia in 1917. The overthrow of the monarchy initially brought into office a coalition of liberals and moderate socialists, but their failed policies led to seizure of power by the communist Bolsheviks on 25 October 1917 (7 November New Style). In 1922, Soviet Russia, along with Soviet Ukraine, Soviet Belarus, and the Transcaucasian SFSR signed the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR, officially merging all four republics to form the Soviet Union as a country. Between 1922 and 1991 the history of Russia became essentially the history of the Soviet Union, effectively an ideologically-based state roughly conterminous with the Russian Empire before the 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. From its first years, government in the Soviet Union based itself on the one-party rule of the Communists, as the Bolsheviks called themselves, beginning in March 1918. The approach to the building of socialism, however, varied over different periods in Soviet history: from the mixed economy and diverse society and culture of the 1920s through the command economy and repressions of the Joseph Stalin era to the "era of stagnation" from the 1960s to the 1980s. During this period, the Soviet Union won the World War II, becoming a superpower opposing Western countries in the Cold War. The USSR was successful in the space program, launching the first man into space.

By the mid-1980s, with the weaknesses of Soviet economic and political structures becoming acute, Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on major reforms, which eventually led to overthrow of the communist party and breakup of the USSR, leaving Russia again on its own and marking the start of the history of post-Soviet Russia. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic renamed itself as the Russian Federation and became one of the several successors to the Soviet Union.[4] The Russian Federation was the only post-soviet republic to assume the USSR's permanent membership in the UN Security Council.[5] Later on, Russia inherited the Soviet Union's entire nuclear arsenal in 1994 after signing the Budapest Memorandum. Russia retained its nuclear arsenal but lost its superpower status. Scrapping the socialist central planning and state-ownership of property of the socialist era, new leaders, led by President Vladimir Putin (who first became President in 2000), took political and economic power after 2000 and engaged in an assertive foreign policy. Coupled with economic growth, Russia has since regained significant global status as a world power. Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula has led to economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. Under Putin's leadership, corruption in Russia is rated the worst in Europe, and Russia's human rights situation has been increasingly criticized by international observers.

History of Russia Intro articles: 87


The first human settlement on the territory of Russia dates back to the Oldowan period in the early Lower Paleolithic. About 2 million years ago, representatives of Homo erectus migrated from Western Asia to the North Caucasus (archaeological site of Kermek [ru] on the Taman Peninsula[6]). At the archaeological site Bogatyri/Sinyaya balka [ru] in the skull Elasmotherium caucasicum, which lived 1.5-1.2 million years ago, a stone tool was found.[7] 1.5-million-year-old Oldowan flint tools have been discovered in the Dagestan Akusha region of the north Caucasus, demonstrating the presence of early humans in the territory of the present-day Russian Federation from a very early time.[8]

Fossils of Denisova man date to about 110,000 years ago.[9] DNA from a bone fragment found in Denisova cave, that of a teenage girl who died about 90,000 years ago, shows that she was a hybrid of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.[10] Russia was also home to some of the last surviving Neanderthals - the partial skeleton of a Neanderthal infant (Mezmaiskaya 2) in Mezmaiskaya cave in Adygea, showed a carbon-dated age of only 45,000 years.[11] In 2008 Russian archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of Novosibirsk, working at the site of Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia, uncovered a 40,000-year-old small bone fragment from the fifth finger of a juvenile hominin, which DNA analysis revealed to be a previously unknown species of human, which was named the Denisova hominin.[12]

The first trace of Homo sapiens on the large expanse of Russian territory dates back to 45,000 years - in central Siberia (Ust'-Ishim man). The discovery of some of the earliest evidence for the presence of anatomically-modern humans found anywhere in Europe was reported in 2007 from the deepest levels of the Kostenki archaeological site near the Don River in Russia (dated to at least 40,000 years ago[13]) and at Sungir (34,600 years ago). Humans reached Arctic Russia (Mamontovaya Kurya) by 40,000 years ago.

The Kurgan hypothesis: South Russia as the urheimat of Indo-European peoples

During the prehistoric eras the vast steppes of Southern Russia were home to tribes of nomadic pastoralists. (In classical antiquity, the Pontic Steppe was known as "Scythia".[14]) Remnants of these long-gone steppe cultures were discovered in the course of the 20th century in such places as Ipatovo,[14] Sintashta,[15] Arkaim,[16] and Pazyryk.[17]

History of Russia Prehistory articles: 35


Stele with two Hellenistic soldiers of the Bosporan Kingdom; from Taman peninsula (Yubileynoe), southern Russia, 3rd quarter of the 4th century BC; marble, Pushkin Museum

In the later part of the 8th century BCE, Greek merchants brought classical civilization to the trade emporiums in Tanais and Phanagoria.[18] Gelonus was described by Herodotus as a huge (Europe's biggest) earth- and wood-fortified grad inhabited around 500 BC by Heloni and Budini. The Bosporan Kingdom was incorporated as part of the Roman province of Moesia Inferior from 63 to 68 AD, under Emperor Nero. At about the 2nd century AD Goths migrated to the Black Sea, and in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, a semi-legendary Gothic kingdom of Oium existed in Southern Russia until it was overrun by Huns. Between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD, the Bosporan Kingdom, a Hellenistic polity which succeeded the Greek colonies,[19] was also overwhelmed by successive waves of nomadic invasions,[20] led by warlike tribes which would often move on to Europe, as was the case with the Huns and Turkish Avars.

A Turkic people, the Khazars, ruled the lower Volga basin steppes between the Caspian and Black Seas through to the 8th century.[21] Noted for their laws, tolerance, and cosmopolitanism,[22] the Khazars were the main commercial link between the Baltic and the Muslim Abbasid empire centered in Baghdad.[23] They were important allies of the Byzantine Empire,[24] and waged a series of successful wars against the Arab Caliphates.[21][25] In the 8th century, the Khazars embraced Judaism.[25]

History of Russia Antiquity articles: 19

Early history

Early East Slavs

A general map of the cultures in European Russia at the arrival of the Varangians and before the beginning of the Slavic colonization

Some of the ancestors of the modern Russians were the Slavic tribes, whose original home is thought by some scholars to have been the wooded areas of the Pripet Marshes.[26] The Early East Slavs gradually settled Western Russia in two waves: one moving from Kiev towards present-day Suzdal and Murom and another from Polotsk towards Novgorod and Rostov.[27]

From the 7th century onwards, East Slavs constituted the bulk of the population in Western Russia[27] and slowly but peacefully assimilated the native Finno-Ugric tribes, such as the Merya,[28] the Muromians,[29] and the Meshchera.[30]

Kievan Rus' (882–1283)

Arrival of Varangians by Viktor Vasnetsov

Scandinavian Norsemen, known as Vikings in Western Europe and Varangians[31] in the East, combined piracy and trade throughout Northern Europe. In the mid-9th century, they began to venture along the waterways from the eastern Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas.[32] According to the earliest Russian chronicle, a Varangian named Rurik was elected ruler (knyaz) of Novgorod in about 860,[33] before his successors moved south and extended their authority to Kiev,[34] which had been previously dominated by the Khazars.[35] Oleg, Rurik's son Igor and Igor's son Sviatoslav subsequently subdued all local East Slavic tribes to Kievan rule, destroyed the Khazar khaganate and launched several military expeditions to Byzantium and Persia.

Thus, the first East Slavic state, Rus', emerged in the 9th century along the Dnieper River valley.[33] A coordinated group of princely states with a common interest in maintaining trade along the river routes, Kievan Rus' controlled the trade route for furs, wax, and slaves between Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire along the Volkhov and Dnieper Rivers.[33]

By the end of the 10th century, the minority Norse military aristocracy had merged with the native Slavic population,[36] which also absorbed Greek Christian influences in the course of the multiple campaigns to loot Tsargrad, or Constantinople.[37] One such campaign claimed the life of the foremost Slavic druzhina leader, Svyatoslav I, who was renowned for having crushed the power of the Khazars on the Volga.[38] At the time, the Byzantine Empire was experiencing a major military and cultural revival; despite its later decline, its culture would have a continuous influence on the development of Russia in its formative centuries.

Kievan Rus' after the Council of Liubech in 1097

Kievan Rus' is important for its introduction of a Slavic variant of the Eastern Orthodox religion,[33] dramatically deepening a synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next thousand years. The region adopted Christianity in 988 by the official act of public baptism of Kiev inhabitants by Prince Vladimir I, who followed the private conversion of his grandmother.[39] Some years later the first code of laws, Russkaya Pravda, was introduced by Yaroslav the Wise.[40] From the onset, the Kievan princes followed the Byzantine example and kept the Church dependent on them, even for its revenues,[41] so that the Russian Church and state were always closely linked.

By the 11th century, particularly during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise, Kievan Rus' displayed an economy and achievements in architecture and literature superior to those that then existed in the western part of the continent.[42] Compared with the languages of European Christendom, the Russian language was little influenced by the Greek and Latin of early Christian writings.[33] This was because Church Slavonic was used directly in liturgy instead.[43]

A nomadic Turkic people, the Kipchaks (also known as the Cumans), replaced the earlier Pechenegs as the dominant force in the south steppe regions neighbouring to Rus' at the end of the 11th century and founded a nomadic state in the steppes along the Black Sea (Desht-e-Kipchak). Repelling their regular attacks, especially in Kiev, which was just one day's ride from the steppe, was a heavy burden for the southern areas of Rus'. The nomadic incursions caused a massive influx of Slavs to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north, particularly to the area known as Zalesye.

Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state because of in-fighting between members of the princely family that ruled it collectively. Kiev's dominance waned, to the benefit of Vladimir-Suzdal in the north-east, Novgorod in the north, and Halych-Volhynia in the south-west. Conquest by the Mongol Golden Horde in the 13th century was the final blow. Kiev was destroyed.[44] Halych-Volhynia would eventually be absorbed into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth,[33] while the Mongol-dominated Vladimir-Suzdal and independent Novgorod Republic, two regions on the periphery of Kiev, would establish the basis for the modern Russian nation.[33]

Mongol invasion and vassalage (1223–1480)

The sacking of Vladimir by Batu Khan in February 1238: a miniature from the 16th-century Russian chronicle
A statue of Alexander Nevsky in Gorodets

The invading Mongols accelerated the fragmentation of the Rus'. In 1223, the disunited southern princes faced a Mongol raiding party at the Kalka River and were soundly defeated.[45] In 1237–1238 the Mongols burnt down the city of Vladimir (4 February 1238)[46] and other major cities of northeast Russia, routed the Russians at the Sit' River,[47] and then moved west into Poland and Hungary. By then they had conquered most of the Russian principalities.[48] Only the Novgorod Republic escaped occupation and continued to flourish in the orbit of the Hanseatic League.[49]

The impact of the Mongol invasion on the territories of Kievan Rus' was uneven. The advanced city culture was almost completely destroyed. As older centers such as Kiev and Vladimir never recovered from the devastation of the initial attack,[44] the new cities of Moscow,[50] Tver[50] and Nizhny Novgorod[51] began to compete for hegemony in the Mongol-dominated Russia. Although a Russian army defeated the Golden Horde at Kulikovo in 1380,[52] Mongol domination of the Russian-inhabited territories, along with demands of tribute from Russian princes, continued until about 1480.[50]

The Mongols held Russia and Volga Bulgaria in sway from their western capital at Sarai,[53] one of the largest cities of the medieval world. The princes of southern and eastern Russia had to pay tribute to the Mongols of the Golden Horde, commonly called Tatars;[53] but in return they received charters authorizing them to act as deputies to the khans. In general, the princes were allowed considerable freedom to rule as they wished,[53] while the Russian Orthodox Church even experienced a spiritual revival under the guidance of Metropolitan Alexis and Sergius of Radonezh.

The Mongols left their impact on the Russians in such areas as military tactics and transportation. Under Mongol occupation, Russia also developed its postal road network, census, fiscal system, and military organization.[33]

At the same time, Prince of Novgorod, Alexander Nevsky, managed to repel the offensive of the Northern Crusades against Russia from the West. Despite this, becoming the Grand Prince, Alexander declared himself a vassal to the Golden Horde, not having the strength to resist its power.

History of Russia Early history articles: 77