Russia History

By | January 28, 2022

Russia is the common name [2] of a country in Europe and Asia, which until 1991 was part of the Soviet Union (USSR). [3] Its official name is the Russian Federation[4] The territory it occupies is the largest in the world. It has a surface area of 17,075,400 square kilometers, with a wide diversity of climatic zones and geographic regions.

The land area of Russia is the one that borders the most countries, and has the most extensive borders. [5]

Russia established world power and influence from the time of the Russian Empire to being the largest constituent country of the Soviet Union (USSR), the first and largest socialist state, and a recognized superpower.

The Russian Federation was founded at the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the iconic legatee of the legal personality of the Soviet Union.

Formation of the Russian state

In the 8th century, the term “rhos” or “rus” was first applied to the Varangians and then also to the Slavs who inhabited the region. In the period from the 10th to the 11th century, Kiev Rus (or medieval Russia) became the largest principality in Europe and one of the most prosperous, due to diversified trade with both Europe and Asia. The opening of new trade routes with the East at the time of the Christian Crusades contributed to the decline and fragmentation of the principality at the end of the 12th century.

In the period between the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkish tribes, such as the Polovtsy and the Pechenego, led to the mass migration of Slavic populations from the fertile south to the more forested regions of the north, known as Zales’e.

Like many other parts of Eurasia, these territories were invaded by the Mongols, forming the state of the Golden Horde, which would plunder the Russian principalities for more than three centuries. About half of the Russian population will perish during the Mongol invasion; later known as the Tatars, they will rule the southern and central extensions of Russia while the current territories of Ukraine and Belarus will be incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland, thus dividing the Russians between Belarusians to the north and Ukrainians to the west.

Principality of Moscow

Still under the rule of the Mongol-Tatars, the Duchy of Moscow began to assert its influence in Western Russia in the early 14th century. The spiritual revival, supported by the Orthodox Church and by St. Sergius of Radonezh (1315-1392), helped the Duchy of Moscow defeat the Mongol-Tatars at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380.

Ivan IV the Terrible (1530-1584) put an end to the control of the invaders, consolidating nearby regions under the rule of Moscow. He was the first to take the title of “Grand Duke of All the Russias”.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Russian state took as its main goals to recover all the territories lost as a result of the Mongol-Tartar invasion and to protect the southern border area against attacks by the Crimean Tatars and some Turkish peoples.

The hidalgos, receiving a lordship from the sovereign, were forced to serve in the army. The manor system became the basis for noble cavalry. In 1547, Ivan IV was officially crowned the first Tsar of Russia. During his reign, Ivan IV annexed regions of Kazan and Astrakhan among others and transformed Russia into a multi-ethnic state.

After the death of Ivan IV military failures, epidemics and poor harvests weakened the state, the Crimean Tatars burned the city of Moscow. The death of Ivan’s children combined with the famine of 1601 – 1603 lead to civil war and foreign intervention.

By the middle of the 17th century there were Russian settlements in Eastern Siberia and on the Chukchi Peninsula across the Amur River. In 1648 the Russian navigator Semyon Dezhniov discovered the strait that separates Siberia from Alaska. Later, in 1728, it will be explored by the Danish navigator Vitus Bering, and will bear his name (Bering Strait).

Russian empire

Muscovite control of the nascent nation continued after Polish intervention under the subsequent Romanov dynasty. Peter I the Great, who ruled the Russian Zarathus, defeated the Swedish Empire during the Great Northern War, forcing it to cede Western Karelia and Ingria and Livonia (present-day southern Estonia and northern Latvia). This ensured the access of the Russian Empire to the sea and maritime trade, in Ingria. He founded a new capital, Saint Petersburg, in 1703 and was largely responsible for bringing Western European culture to Russia, following its reforms.

Tsarina Catherine the Great, who ruled from 1762 to 1796, continued the efforts of Peter I by positioning Russia as one of the great European powers. As examples of European participation in the 18th century, the War of the Polish Succession and the Seven Years’ War stand out. After the division of Poland, Russia acquired the significant western territories, which were mainly populated by people of Orthodox religion.

In 1783, Russia and the Georgian Kingdom signed the Georgievsk treaty according to which Georgia received protection from Russia.

In 1812, having gathered almost half a million French soldiers and from his other conquered states in Europe, Emperor Napoleon invaded Russia. However, after taking Moscow, he was forced to retreat to France. Almost 90% of the invading forces perished in the battles with the Russian army, due to the guerrillas, and the harsh winter. The Russian armies ended the pursuit of the enemy by taking their capital, Paris.

According to, the successor of Nicholas I of Russia, Alexander II (1855-1881) was forced to undertake a series of comprehensive reforms and issued a decree abolishing serfdom in 1861.

The failure of the reforms and the suppression of the agrarian as a consequence of the growth of the liberal intelligentsia, fostered the continuity of the problems. On the eve of the First World War (1914-1918), the position of Tsar Nicholas II and his dynasty seemed precarious.

Russia History