History of Russia

occurrences and people in Russia throughout history
(Redirected from Russian Empire)

The history of Russia begins with the histories of the East Slavs.


  • For more than five hundred years the cardinal problem in defining Europe has centred on the inclusion or exclusion of Russia.
  • Historians usually focus their attention on the past of countries that still exist, writing hundreds and thousands of books on British history, French history, German history, Russian history, American history, Chinese history, Indian history, Brazilian history or whatever. Whether consciously or not, they are seeking the roots of the present, thereby putting themselves in danger of reading history backwards. As soon as great powers arise, whether the United States in the twentieth century or China in the twenty-first, the call goes out for offerings on American History or Chinese History, and siren voices sing that today’s important countries are also those whose past is most deserving of examination, that a more comprehensive spectrum of historical knowledge can be safely ignored.
    • Norman Davies, Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (2011)
  • In Russia, where the transition from one form of government to another was much more abrupt, post-Soviet governments have been grappling, with limited success, to make a new identity for Russia by using history. “These days,” the Russians say, “we live in a country with an unpredictable past.” While the new order clearly does not want to celebrate the November 7 anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, it does not want to alienate the citizenry by getting rid of what has been a two-day holiday. When Boris Yeltsin was in power, he kept the holiday but renamed it the Day of Accord and Reconciliation. The public remained largely in ignorance of the change. In 2005, Putin moved the holiday a couple of days forward, to November 4, and christened it the Day of National Unity. The change in date is to commemorate Russian success in driving out Polish invaders in 1612. The public, apart from the radical nationalists, still has no idea of what the holiday is supposed to be celebrating. What present-day Russia has shown little interest in remembering, at least so far, is the horrors of the Stalinist period. There are few official museums or sites to mark the Gulag or the thousands upon thousands who died in Stalin's prisons, and few memorials to those brave individuals, like Andrei Sakharov, who opposed the Soviet state.
  • One man’s monster is another man’s hero and such debates remain relevant today. Lenin benefited from one of the great whitewashes of history and is still revered by many misguided and ignorant people in Russia and the West: he remains honoured in his Mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square. Stalin was denounced in 1956 but the Kremlin recently presented an official textbook for history teachers that acclaimed Stalin as ‘the most successful Russian leader of the 20th century’, a state-builder and triumphant warlord who ranks with ‘Bismarck and Peter the Great’.
  • Studying Russian history from the West European perspective, one also becomes conscious of the effect that the absence of feudalism had on Russia. Feudalism had created in the West networks of economic and political institutions that served the central state, once it replaced the feudal system, as a source of social support and relative stability. Russia knew no feudalism in the traditional sense of the word, since, after the emergence of the Muscovite monarchy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, all landowners were tenants-in-chief of the Crown, and subinfeudation was unknown. As a result, all power was concentrated in the Crown.
    • Richard Pipes, Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution (1995), pp. 17-18
  • Солдатушки​, бравы ребятушки, А кто вашъ родимый?
    – Нашъ родимый – Царь непобѣдимый, Вотъ кто нашъ родимый.
    Солдатушки​, бравы ребятушки, ​Есть​ у васъ родная?
    ​– Есть​ родная, мать намъ дорогая, Наша Русь святая.
    ​Солдатушки​, бравы ребятушки, Гдѣ же ваша слава?
    – Наша слава — Русская держава, Вотъ гдѣ наша слава.
    ​Солдатушки​, бравы ребятушки, Гдѣ же ваши дѣды?
    – Наши дѣды — ​славные​ побѣды, Вотъ гдѣ наши дѣды.
  • ​Little soldiers, brave little guys,
    And who is your esteemed?
    – Our esteemed, the invincible Tsar
    That's who our esteemed is.
    Little soldiers, brave little guys,
    Do you have a darling?
    – There's a darling, our dear mother,
    Our Holy Rus'.

    Little soldiers, brave little guys,
    Where is your glory?
    – Our glory is the Russian state – That's where our glory is.

    Soldiers, brave little guys,
    Where are your grandfathers?
    – Our grandfathers are [the] glorious victories,
    That's where our grandfathers are.''

    • Soldatushki ("Little Soldiers"), Imperial army song, popular in the 19th century.
    • Note that many different versions exist, although always with similar format and pace.
    • Here is the pace. (Starts at 0:30)

Classical and Foreign Quotations

L’ordre règne à Varsovie
Order reigns in Warsaw
Quotes reported in: W. F. H. King, ed., Classical and Foreign Quotations, 3rd ed. (1904), nos. 291, 1321, 1439, 856, 1932
  • C’est du Nord aujourd’hui que nous vient la lumiére.
  • It is from the North nowadays that we get our light.
    • Voltaire, Épitre a l’Impératrice de Russie, Catherine II (1771) ver. 8.
  • Le despotisme temperé par l’assassinat, c’est notre Magna Charta.
  • Absolutism tempered by assassination is our Magna Carta.
    • The words of a Russian noble addressed to Count Ernst Friedrich Münster, Hanoverian Minister at Petersburg, a propos of the murder of the Emperor Paul on 23 March 1801.
    • Compare: Le gouvernement de France est une monarchie absolue, tempérée par des chansons.—“The French government is an absolute monarchy, qualified by epigrams.” (S. B. N. Chamfort, Caractéres, vol. i. p. 74). See also: Georg Büchmann, Geflügelte Worte, 19th ed. (1898), p. 483; Roger Alexandre, Musée de la Conversation, 3rd ed. (1897), p. 319, and the parallels and variants there cited.
  • L’ordre règne à Varsovie.
  • Order reigns at Warsaw.
    • On 7 and 8 September 1831, Poland made its last determined struggle for freedom, which was crushed in a few days, with tremendous losses on the Polish side, by the Russian general Paskiewitch; and Sebastiani, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, was able to announce in the Chamber of Deputies, on 16 September, the occupation of Warsaw by the Tsar’s forces. In the Moniteur of 17 September (p. 1601, col. 2) he is reported to have said, Le gouvernement a communiqué tous les renseignements qui lui étaient parvenus sur les événements de la Pologne ... au moment où l’on écrivait, la tranquillité régnait à Varsovie. The word l’ordre (“order”), with which the saying is proverbially connected, is probably due to the Moniteur of the day before, which reported that L’ordre et la tranquillité sont entièrement rétablis dans la capitale. In the Caricature of the day a cartoon appeared (by Grandville and Eugene Forest), of a Russian soldier surrounded by a mound of Polish corpses, and entitled L’ordre règne a Varsovie, which accounted in no small measure for the perpetuation of the epigram.
  • Grattez le Russe et vous trouverez le Cosaque (ou le Tartare).
  • Scratch the Russian and you will find the Cossack (or the Tartar).
    • Prince de Ligne, quoted in Hertslet’s Treppenwitz, etc. 4th ed. (Berlin, 1895), p. 360.
  • On lui trouve de la bonté, de l’amabilité; mais, en frottant un peu, cela sent le cosaque.
  • A kind and amiable man enough; but rub a little more closely, and you become aware of the Cossack within.
    • Napoleon, said of Alexander I of Russia, in Mémoires, Correspondance, etc. du Général Lafayette (Paris, 1838), vol. 5, p. 403.