Russia historical roots: A.D. 600 Slav farmers, hunters, and fishers near waterways of the Northern European Plain
800s – Varangians, Scandinavian warriors, settled among the Slavs near the Dnieper and Volga Rivers, causing them to adopt many Slav language & customs. It was soon created into a loose union of city-states known as Kievan Rus. The leading state, Kiev, controlled a prosperous trading route. Later, fighting broke out and weakened Kievan Rus. Mongolians invaded Kiev & other Slav territories in the 1200s, and controlled the area for more than 200 years, but allowed the Slavs self-rule.
The Rise of Russia
Many Slavs escaped the invasions and settled along the Moskva River, creating the city of Moscow, the center of Muscovy, which was linked by rivers to major trade routes & surrounded by lands good for farming & fur trapping. After two centuries, Muscovy’s Prince Ivan III (“the great”) conquered many Slav territories that became known as Russia. Ivan built the Kremlin (a huge fortress today used as Russian Federation’s headquarters) & put many churches and palaces in the city.
1547: Ivan IV (“Ivan the terrible”)became first czar, or supreme ruler, crushing all opposition & expanding into non-Slav territory. After his reign, the country faced foreign invasion, economic decline, & social difficulties. 1613: Romanov dynasty came to power, causing gov’t to tighten its grip on the people. Many peasants became serfs, a virtually enslaved workforce bound to the land & under the control of nobility.
Romanov Czars and the Empire
Late 1600s: Czar Peter I (“Peter the great”) came to power, modernizing Russia by enlarging the territory, building a strong military and developing trade with western Europe. St. Petersburg provided access to the Baltic Sea & gave Russia a “window to the west”, becoming a major port. Late 1700s: Empress Catherine the Great continued expanding Russia & gained a warm-water port on the Black Sea. The expansion brought many non-Russians under its rule. A cultural gap developed between the nobles, who adopted western European ways, and the serfs, who followed traditional Russian ways. 1891: Czar Alexander III expanded into Siberia w/ construction of the Trans Siberian Railroad (nearly 6,000 miles long connecting Moscow with Vladivostok; opened Russia’s interior to settlement.
Boehm, Richard G. World Geography and Cultures. Columbus, Ohio: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.
“243px‑Kievan_Rus_en.jpg.” Photograph. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, 2012. Web. February 2, 2012.