AP World History: Period 4: Absolutism in Russia Part I

we’re gonna talk about absolutism and we’re gonna focus on Russia as a case study as you know there isn’t as much of an emphasis of European history in AP World and we also did this in AP euro so this is going to be really sort of a refresher by using Russia as a case study we will do some comparison between Russia and France towards the end of these videos and we’ll discuss it in class as well but the key questions we want to keep in mind when we discuss Russia is to what extent is it European and how is it even and we also want to think about how Russia underwent major transitions during this era that turn it into this major empire that arguably rivals some of the other empires we’ve studied but before we get into modern Russia let’s think about the people that were ancestors of modern Russians and how they lived so before Mongol rule in this area the Slavic peoples existed in a place called Kiev and Rus and he Ivan Rus was a very decentralized government in terms of government it was basically a loose Federation of Slavic States and it lasted from the 9th to the 13th centuries so you can see here and this is the geography that made up Kia and Rus and you can probably observe right away that it’s pretty far west and actually occupied quite a bit of it was actually in present-day Ukraine and then the parts that were located in Russia also were very Western so Kiev and Rus I definitely had a European influence and and this remained the major the major population center for the ancestors of modern Russians until the Mongols controlled them in the 13th century Russia also was very medieval in this era we we don’t have much of a merchant class to speak of whatsoever we do also to a certain extent see that there is Eastern influence over Russia in this time as well and some of this is coming from what was the Golden Horde and meeow areas of the balkans you had you had a group of people from Crimea called the Tatars who actually were involved in a pretty extensive slave trade with Russia they and exported or imported rather about 2 million slaves from Russia and the Ukraine between 1500 and 1700 so you can definitely see that there was an Eastern influence over Russia as well but other than that Kiev in the RUS was very largely isolated from the rest of Europe and the world didn’t read that much and so we’re gonna see that that does allow it to develop some of its own unique cultures outside of European and Eastern influences one way that we could argue that Russia was not at all like Europe was that it didn’t experience some of the major changes that took place in Western Europe and the in the 16th and 17th centuries so Russia never experienced a renaissance or Reformation the church does not split in Russia it’s predominantly Eastern Orthodox and there isn’t that major rebirth of that Western Europe experiences in the wake of the Black Death and also during at least in the early years that were discussing right now the people who the the Russian people were controlled by outsiders right they were still controlled by the Mongols who had a tight hold over city-states and kingdoms that made up Russia so that makes them different from the Europeans they’re not self autonomous at this point but eventually what we’re gonna see is that Russian princes start to gain wealth and power because they act as tax collectors for the Mongols and eventually instead of paying tribute to the Mongols that refuse and they drive the Mongols out of the area so eventually we will see that local princes are going to start to become autonomous which we’ll see when we talk about Ivan the grade in just a little while but one other thing that we should think about before we talk about modern Russia was that even though it did not have a huge trading industry it did have a very key location for trade which certainly helps rush to develop more once we talk about it in a mod context and so Russia definitely had a good good access to trading locations both east and west one of the things that we know happens in modern Russia is that it expands its borders very far east into Siberia and this allows Russia to profit off of a very rich fur trade and fur was in high demand in both Western Europe and China so they have access to Western and Eastern buyers for this very valuable trade Trading good rather and the Russian fur

trade grows so large that by the time we get to the 18th and 19th centuries Russia actually is also trading in in on the west coast of North America so they start trading in Alaska this is an image of Russian fur traders in Kodiak Alaska at the height they actually keep expanding down the northwest coast and Russians were trading fur along the Pacific coast as far south of San Francisco other things that Russia had access to in terms of its trade networks it was it was located along the Silk Road which allowed them to import silk from places like India Persia and China and Russia also had quite a few goods that were valuable to outside countries so they had significant exports as well and so some of the things that Russia exported were grain leather iron hemp wood salts and tar which became even more important what’s shipbuilding industries developed quite a bit and so Russia definitely had some pretty some pretty valuable natural resources to offer to outside places but what we do see is that again we have to question the extent to which Russia is eastern or western one of the things that we have to acknowledge is that there was a wide array of ethnicities in Russia there were certainly people of Mongol descent that lived in parts of Russia you had people who you had people that were similar to you and Weaver’s who we also see in western China who were Muslim and then you see many indigenous peoples who also lived in some of the more rural and remote parts of Russia and so that certainly makes it less European in nature the European population of Russia what were the Slavic peoples that lived much farther west in Kiev and Rus right but all the people that live in this area they’re certainly not European in nature another thing is that you have outside invaders who very much have influence over early Russian Russian development right so we know about it has Eastern influences because Russia was ruled by the Mongols for quite a long period of time but we do have influence from Western invaders to from even earlier right so there were Viking invasions that reached into Russia so we know that Russia because of outside invaders was definitely equally a product of east and west and then one thing that makes us lean more in the direction of Europe as we move forward is that once you get to be much more powerful czars of Russia like Peter the Great and Catherine the Great they start to actually become increasingly influenced by Western technology and culture and so during the days of the Enlightenment for example we will see that Russians start to look look West much more often for inspirations for technology they’re interested in enlightenment philosophy they’re interested in governing much more like Europeans and they even start to dress similar european in nature so we know that it is certainly not entirely european but there is quite a bit of European influence once we get to later periods another thing that we need to consider in answering this question is where the Capitals were located and so the three major capitals in different periods of Russia’s history were all Western locations right so Kiev Andros the capital was Kiev in present-day Ukraine in early Russia and of course in modern Russia the capital was Moscow which even though is slightly farther west is still in the European parts of Russia and then see Petersburg of course was also capitals for a period and st Petersburg is very Western and used to be part of Sweden and so of course we know that there is quite a bit of a Western influence here so how does Russia start to become the powerful Peyer that it that it evolved into well of course as I was saying earlier Russia in the early 15th century was still controlled by Mongols from the Mongol or for the Golden Horde rather and so Ivan the third or Ivan the great was the very first of a long line of powerful charismatic and autocratic rulers that arguably continued all the way into the present day with Vladimir Putin right so how does Ivan become this powerful ruler so before he became a Tsar he was a prince of Muscovy and Muscovy is this region surrounding Moscow that you see bordered with this red line and so what he does is at this point as a prince of Muscovy his role was to make sure that his region paid tribute to mongols and then they were ruled locally by these princes so he effectively ruled and then mongols just asked him to pay them tribute but when he does is he refused to pay he refuses to pay tributes to mongols and eventually drives them out of the area so by doing this he becomes

the first effective Czar of Russia and this is important that he takes this title because the title of Tsar has much more meaning to it than just a prince right the word czar is derived from caesar so in many ways he’s trying to make himself a ruler that is equal in power to someone like julius caesar or any other major Roman Emperor during the height of classical Rome so by calling himself czar it further illegitimate as his power and definitely distinguishes him from the previous local rulers of Russia those Prince’s right and another way that Ivan legitimizes his power is through marriage mm-hmm and so he takes a wife named Zoe and her uncle was the last emperor of the Byzantine Empire and as we know the Byzantine Empire was the center of eastern christened um and Russia was very much Eastern Orthodox in terms of its major religion and so by marrying a woman who descended from the center of Christendom so to speak he also had legitimacy of his role through the church as well and so what Ivan does is he basically starts to gain additional territory for Russia so we know that at first he was just the Prince of Muscovy but eventually through Wars and diplomacy he triples the size of his state okay so the this latest yellow color here outside of Muscovy this marks all the territories that were added to Russia under Ivan the great himself so we know already even though the state is not nearly as large as that becomes already we start to see under Ivan that he’s much more focused on centralizing rule and he actually gains control of different Russian city-states some of whom actually rivaled huis kabhi in a period so one of the best examples of that is that he gains control of Novgorod which was a longtime rival of Muscovy and that gains much more prestige and power another thing that Ivan the great does that makes him a much more powerful centralized ruler is that he develops a much more substantial capital city so the capital was in Moscow which is located on a tributary to the Volga River here and the Volga River eventually as Russia expands farther south is gonna give Russia access to the Caspian Sea which is very very crucial for trade and eventually also Russia will expand into into this area north of the Black Sea which gives them access to Mediterranean trade which is huge but one of the things that he does is he starts to actually contribute to physical changes in the city of Russia and this shows the growing status and power of Russian rulers so one of the things that he does is he develops the Kremlin which was a central citadel of Moscow and it very much signified the political power of the city and also the military defenses of the city so he rebuilds the walls surrounding the Kremlin and then he also adds these various towers around the Kremlin and what’s interesting is that these towers actually were designed by Italian architects and so even though Peter the Great and Catherine the Great get more credit for westernizing Russia you can see that even Ivan was doing it by bringing in Italian architects to design the towers around the Kremlin as Moscow starts to grow Kiev the former capital of Kiev Rus starts to decline in importance and again as Moscow keeps developing the bigger it gets you can argue that that shows how much more powerful the czars are getting in terms of social class in Russia it was pretty simple the vast majority of the population were serfs about 95 percent of all Russians in this period were all serfs and serfs are a step below peasants peasants occasionally can own land whereas serfs were perpetually bound to the land they were always in debt and if their Lord decided to sell his property as the serfs would go along with the land right so that gives you a sense that serfs were almost essentially slaves because they could be bought and sold it’s just like just like any other property could be the other group of people were the boyars and they were a much smaller contingent in the population but before the centralization of power under Ivan Ivan the Terrible and of course Peter and Catherine the Great the boyars actually were effectively ruling at different parts of Russia so warriors were like Nobles they owned quite a bit of property and and they experienced quite a bit of tension with the Czar once the Tsar gain power so the real major two social classes that you have in Russia are the boyars and the serfs this serves vastly outnumber the boyars but the boyars do everything they can to control the serfs and keep them perpetually bound to the land even though the church is not a social class it’s important for us to realize that the church was very powerful as well and the Tsar’s use the influence of the church to gain more legitimacy for their role and there isn’t really much of a middle class to speak of in Russia whatsoever we will

see that eventually there will be a little bit of an appropriation of a merchant class but but still that really distinguishes Russia from the rest of Western Europe when trade is encouraged and it develops very very quickly it doesn’t develop in the same ways as it doesn’t Russia so let’s talk about the different social classes and a little bit more detail the boyars are again the notable land owning class and they make up the top of the social pyramid the boyars we’re gonna see experience some pretty serious tension with the czars and this is comparable to Western Europe as we know once Western Europe moves more to the direction of absolutism oftentimes there is tension between the nobles and the absolute rulers and sometimes rulers have to make efforts to try to reduce the power of the nobles so for example louis xiii when he moved the capital to versailles and encouraged Nobles to live there it was a way he could keep an eye on them so the same kinds of things actually happened in Russia a good example that we can see with tension between boyars and the ruler rulers was very early on when we’re talking about Ivan the great he experienced quite a bit of tension with the boyars of Novgorod because Ivan was expansionist and he basically absorbed Novgorod into the into Russia so as we saw in this previous slide over here Russia starts to expand much greater and gains Novgorod right so when Ivan started to expand and add this territory the boyars tried to push back and Ivan instead basically decided to punish the boyars and he confiscated their lands and they forced them to move to Moscow so he could keep an eye on them and that’s very similar to what louis xiv does when he establishes versailles and uses that as a way to essentially keep an eye on the nobles boyars also you reflect some of the non-western influence in among russian peoples in the sense that before westernization boyars very much looked much more Arab in terms of appearance they they did not trim their beards no women were meant to wear veils and remain covered women were completely separated from men women did not were not meant to have any sort of public interaction with men that they were not related to or connected to through marriage they kept themselves covered they had no shape to their clothing and that was very very non-european in a lot of ways and so we’ll see westernization in many ways is actually empowering for Russian women Boyer’s also live on their own feudal estates they actually have their own armies and they have their own sort of self-contained economies and in a lot of ways I think that this is similar to what we saw in feudal Japan before the Tokugawa Shogunate right so the daimyo s that we talked about are very similar to the boyars in Russia right in the sense that there’s sort of autonomous before we start to see the rise of the czars and again the boyars were not very interested in interacting with the outside world again merchants they’re very small so I don’t want to spend too much time talking about them because I don’t want to overemphasize the idea that there were merchants in Russia they were very very small merchants the ones that do exist are trading along incredibly dangerous trading routes both to the east and the west remember that the Silk Road was not a particularly safe a safe place to trade with the exception of when the Hmong will start to police it more heavily so again this was a risky profession and and there were not a particularly large number of merchants in Russia but by the time you get to the 16th century in major urban areas you do see more trade fairs proliferating a lot of times merchants would sell agricultural Goods but they would also sell sell products of natural resources from the area so you do see as we start to develop more of an urban environment there will be some more trade but again not nearly to the scale that you have in Western Europe again the major church in in Russia was the Russian Orthodox Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church it was one of the oldest Christian religions that existed right this is before the divide between the Eastern Church the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church and it’s important for us to remember that that in 1054 there was that great schism where the Eastern Church and the Roman Catholic Church split and one of the key differences between these two churches is that the Eastern Orthodox Church does not recognize the power of the Pope they also don’t approve of the use of icons and the way that the Roman Catholic Church does so this also signifies a big divide from Western Europe because they are under the influence of completely different churches the Rope other Russians believe that they practiced the Christian religion that the Roman Emperor Constantine practiced and again the Tsar’s

use their connection to the church to try to legitimize their role okay so the serfs again the serfs were definitely the most numerous part of the population they made up about ninety four ninety five percent of the population and serfs I want to emphasize again are beyond peasants in terms of their status right peasants actually did have the ability to own some land but serfs do not write so serfs essentially were perpetually down to the land they’re if a noble if a Boyer sold land then the serfs would also go along with that land so you get a sense again that they’re not at all free they can’t control their own life whatsoever and again they don’t actually make any wages what they do is they receive a plot of land from a noble the noble pledges to protect them and then to pay the noble they essentially give him a share of their crop and so again they’re not working for wages they can’t buy their own land so this distinguishes them from peasants in all but name serfs are slaves so the next important ruler in Russia that we should be aware of was Ivan the fourth who gets the nickname Ivan the Terrible we’ll talk about why in just a moment he ruled from 1547 to 1584 and like like Ivan the third he also is said about expanding Russia’s borders and so I reproduced this map yet again for us to see how much Russia grows under Ivan the Terrible so again just as a recap remember that this light yellow here that represents all the territories that were added under Ivan the third and then this light green represents the territories that were added by Ivan the fourth right so we see that Russia is expanding much farther east and it’s also expanding south which is very key because now it will have access to both the Caspian and the Black Sea which is going to help its trade networks quite a bit so Ivan was crowned Tsar in 1547 he immediately sets about expanding the Russian border eastward he takes control of the farmer Kahn eats that existed in the Golden Horde and then one of the reasons why he was able to do that was because he has access to more advanced military technology compared to earlier Russians he actually uses gunpowder for one of the first times in Russians history and actually one of the reasons why he’s able to use gunpowder is he brings in someone from Denmark in 1552 to Moscow to instruct his men to use landlines so again even though the Ivan’s don’t get much credit for westernization and they did actually start by bringing in some Western European military technologies and another thing that made Ivan stand out was that he again very much wanted to have a visual reminder for the people of Russia that there was this key connection between the Tsar and the church and so one of Ivan’s huge architectural contributions to Russia was that he had the Cathedral of st Basil’s built in still stands in Red Square in Moscow and this is a very very good example of the Eastern Orthodox Church it shows you how much it stands out from the Roman Catholic Church and also again it’s this very strongly minor that the church and the Czar were united also the Russian government during the time of Ivan tried to convert quite a bit of the population that they had just acquired from the Golden Horde to to the Eastern Orthodox Church most of those people are Muslim and those conversion efforts were we’re not huge many people actually remain Muslim and we will see that Russia was a relatively religiously tolerant place but nonetheless there were attempts to try to add more people to to Christianity okay so again one of the things that makes Ivan very significant was how he expanded the borders of Russia so one of the areas that he wants to expand into Russia is is Siberia and the reason why he wants to do that is because of the very profitable fur trade and so what he does is he with this very very wealthy family major Russian landowners called the stroganoff and I just showed this is just their family crest down here and the struggle now is what they do is they actually hire these people called Cossacks to work to fight the local Siberian tribes and the Siberian cons so here’s a cossack cossacks were basically peasant warriors some of them were actually runaway serfs and they act sometimes as mercenaries to actually to fight sometimes on behalf of of the Russian Empire and so the strong anons get all these all these Cossacks together and what they do again is they they fight against the indigenous people that live in Siberia and eventually start to gain

much more land so the stroganoff campaign using the Cossacks was quite successful and the major territorial acquisitions are the entire Volga River so again the volga river is connected to moscow but now by gaining this entire region moscow is connected to the caspian sea so they have a good trade outlet with the middle east so they can trade directly with persia the ottoman empire and they don’t have to deal with their threat over here to the west with the crimean tatars who will see you eventually will also be expanded into russia okay staying here just for a second so even after ivan the fourth russia does continue to expand east into Siberia as you can see here what we’ll see is that over time fur traders and militias keep defeating one indigenous tribe after another and in addition to the fur trade you will also see a religious spread into Siberia so missionaries are also going to start to move into Siberia and they try to convert many people to the Eastern Orthodox faith but you will see that local shamans do continue to have influence over the area so there are some conversion efforts in Siberia to Christianity they are not all encompassing by any means but still you do see that basically by the time you get to the mid seventeenth-century so the mid-1600s russia had advanced east as far as the Pacific Ocean so this was economic control this was social control through you know of course through the proliferation of missionaries and of course by having the control of of such a wide expansive land they are able to profit immensely off of the fur trade and again as I was seen before they continue expanding even farther east and eventually their fur trade expands into Alaska and the west coast of North America one more thing I wanted to say sorry is that we could certainly compare the Russia the eastern expansion of Russia so from Muscovy all the way to the Pacific Ocean to the westward expansion that we see in United States history right in a lot of ways you have the same kind of phenomenon where there is this sort of frontier leg movement to drive out the indigenous people first and then later later people who are sort of making up more traditional occupations people who were descendants more of more of the European the European types of Russians would start to move west but at first it was definitely the more adventurous part of the population that was looking just to profit off of things like the fur trade another thing that we see of course is that there is an effort to expand Christianity in both directions so the there are missionaries that are working to convert the indigenous peoples of siberia to christianity and there also were definite efforts to spread christianity into the west of the united states another thing that these two places have in common is that indigenous peoples did try to put up resistance to expansion but eventually they succumb to superior weapons so they succumb to guns and they also succumb to diseases all right so what happens with Ivan unfortunately Ivan’s late reign was marked with with certain definite mental problems he descended into a some serious fierce paranoia which definitely effect later roll and so one of the things that Ivan again Ivan experienced some pretty serious tension with the boyars who really did not like his efforts to expand and so one of the things Ivan does is he actually establishes this paramilitary group called the Oprah canina and this is an image of Oprah Nina and what what this was it was a paramilitary group that was meant to help control the boyars at home right so the Opera caminar they dressed in black and they traveled very quickly on horseback and it showed fierce loyalty to Ivan ulfberht Nina were drawn from lower level bureaucrats and merchants and so this is important because since they’re fighting against Nobles if they come from lower parts of the social classes they’re going to be obviously much more loyal to Ivan than the boyars would be you also there’s a connection between the Oprah kameena some of their methods to try to to try to influence the power of the boyars through the secret police in much more modern Russian history and so and so that is definitely a good indicator of how much tension Ivan was experiencing with the boyars again he descends into some serious paranoia later in life he actually killed his son and then sank very deeply into paranoia

and then he dies in 1584 and since he murdered his son there’s no strong heir to replace Ivan after his death and so after Ivan’s death there is this brief period called the Time of Troubles which was a period where there was no solid ruler of Russia Russia basically descends back into a state of anarchy and and this is this is going to be fixed once the powerful Ramin up dynasty is going to be placed in a position of power so what is uh what is Ivan the terrible’s legacy ultimately well as we know with the reputation the terrible he was he certainly had a reputation of cruelty in addition to the fact that he murdered his own son and some of his expansion efforts he was known to kill the inhabitants of entire cities so again he known to be a very cruel man but again one of the most positive contributions that he made to Russia’s history was how much territory he added to the Empire and of course this is only going to be continued under Peter the Great and Catherine the Great again the Time of Troubles this is a period between Ivan’s death and 1584 and 1613 when Michael Romanov takes power and basically what this is is that Russia doesn’t have any strong leader so there’s no strong autocrat or family and control and again Russia sort of descends nearly into a period of anarchy here so in some ways is going back to the days before I’ve been at all right boyars were competing for more local control we also see that there were there were invasions of parts of of parts of areas of Russian influence like Poland and Lithuania were needed during this era so again it is just a very chaotic time where some of the major progress that was made by Ivan the Great and Ivan the Terrible is going to essentially be erased but nonetheless the Time of Troubles is going to be is going to end once um once Michael Romanov takes power in 1613 and so Michael Romanov becomes the next Czar of Russia in 1613 and he was appointed by a National Assembly called the Assembly of the land and he was the first of the Romanov dynasty and the Romanovs their family remains in power until 1917 with the Russian Revolution so again that gives you a sense of how important absolutism in Russia becomes again the rava knobs hold autocratic control and eventually they are going to push the borders of Russia all the way east into Mongolia so again the Romanovs marked some serious territorial expansion as well mm-hmm you will see the official border is going to be established between Russia and the Qing Dynasty in China in 1689 when there is a treaty called the treaty of nerchinsk nerchinsk is this region here so in south eastern russia here and this marks the new border between the Ching dynasty in China and Russia so again you see that China actually takes up part of what was Mongolia again even though the Romanovs become powerful in the early years of the Romanov dynasty the power of the Tsar was relatively weak the boyars and the church held quite a bit of power and it is under the leadership of Peter the Great and captain of the great that we see absolutism become a much more prominent theme in Russian government again there were really three major groups that have conflicting desires and an agendas in Russia before the days of Peter the Great so the church what they want to do is conserve traditional values and beliefs what the boyars want to do is gain and hold as much power as I can and prevent the rise of the czars to become much more centralized and autocratic and then you have the members of the Czar’s family and what they want to do is mean could maintain control over the boyars right so what we will see when we move on to the next videos with Peter the Great and Catherine the Great is that one of the major accomplishments of their rule is that they exert more control over the boyars centralize power make government more efficient and of course build up a stronger military that has Western influences so we’re gonna stop for here and then we will pick up with a new video that talks about Peter the Great and then we’ll do a third video that talks about Catherine the Great so thanks for watching and stay tuned for the next one