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History of Russia

History of Russia
Early East Slavs
Kievan Rus'
Volga Bulgaria
Mongol invasion
Golden Horde
Imperial Russia
Revolution of 1905
Revolution of 1917
Civil War
Soviet Union
Russian Federation


Early East Slavs

For details see the main article Early East Slavs.

Kievan Rus'

For details see the main article Kievan Rus'.

The earliest Slavic state in the region was that of the Kievan Rus. Ancient Icelandic sagas and runestones call the Russian territory "Gardariki" (Land of cities), later on known by the names of Little Russia (=Ukraine) and Great Russia. According to these sagas the country was divided into three main parts: Holmgård (Novgorod), Könugård (Kiev) and Palteskja (Polatsk). Kiev region was considered to be the best land in the whole country. The country outside these three parts was seen by the norsemen as Tatars' land. Exports of slaves, furs, honey and wax contributed to the growth of Kiev and Novgorod . The towns were competitors to the rest of Europe's large cities in size, wealth and architectural beauties.

In 988 the region adopted Christianity by the official act of public baptism of Kiev inhabitants by St. Vladimir, and some years later the first code of laws, Russkaya Pravda, was introduced. Compared with the languages of European Christendom, the Russian language was little influenced by the Greek and Latin of early Christian writings. This was due to the fact the Slavic was used directly in liturgy instead.

The name "Russia", together with the Finnish Routsi and Estonian Rootsi, are found by some scholars to have relationship with Roden . The meaning Rus is debated but it may come from ros in the placename "Roden" (now Roslagen).

Volga Bulgaria

Volga Bulgaria was a non-Slavic extinct state on the middle Volga. After Mongol Invasion it became a part of Golden Horde. Nowadays Tatarstan (the constituent republic of Russia).


Khazaria was a non-Slavic extinct state of steppes between the Caspian Sea and Black Sea and partially along the Volga River, which is traditionally considered to be a symbol of Russia today, along with the birch tree.

Mongol Invasion

For details see the main article Mongol invasion of Russia.

In 1223, the nomadic Mongols began raiding Kievan Rus, conquering it several years later.

Golden Horde

For details see the main article Golden Horde.

At his death, Genghis Khan partitioned his empire into four parts, granting the northern territories to his grandson Batu Khan, who consolidated Mongolian rule in Russia and established the Golden Horde in 1242.


For details see the main article Muscovy.

In the later Middle Ages it was the Muscovy principality that developed into an empire that from the 15th century onward slowly grew eastward into Asia.

Imperial Russia

For details see the main article Imperial Russia.

Under Tsar Peter the Great and Empress Catherine the Great, Russia then became a major European power as Imperial Russia expanded from the 18th century onward.

Revolutionary activity in Russia began with the Decembrist Revolt, uncovered in 1825, and although serfdom was abolished in 1861, its abolition was achieved on terms unfavorable to the peasants and served to encourage revolutionaries.

Russian Revolution

For details see the main article Russian Revolution.

A parliament, the Duma, was established in 1906, but political and social unrest continued and was aggravated during World War I by military defeat and food shortages. The February Revolution and October Revolutions (see Russian Revolution) brought the Bolsheviks to power in 1917.

On November 15, 1917 (new style) Bolsheviks promulgated the Declaration of Rights of Peoples of Russia that became the legal basis for secession of several parts of former Russian Empire.  Many of those seceded territories have later been reincorporated as constituent republics of the Soviet Union.

Russian Civil War

For details see the main article Russian Civil War.

The Russian Revolution was followed by a period of civil war (see Russian Civil War), after which communist control was complete. It was fought between 1918 and 1920.

Soviet Union

For details see the main article History of the Soviet Union.

The collapse of Tsarist rule was followed by the eviction of the landlord class and the subdivision of land among peasant families. Poor and middle peasants generally did not benefit from the latter until Lenin announced the New Economic Policy (NEP), which saw an end to government requisitioning of food during the civil war. Peasants marketed most of their produce at free prices during the years of the NEP.

After the death of the Soviet Union's revolutionary founding figure Vladimir Lenin (1924), Joseph Stalin finally emerged as uncontested leader when Leon Trotsky had been exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929.

Under Stalin, who replaced Lenin's NEP with five year plans and collective farming, the Soviet Union (established 1922) became a major industrial power, but with effective political opposition eliminated during the 1930s by purges. World War II established the Soviet Union as one of the two major world powers, a position maintained for four decades through military strength, aid to developing countries, and scientific research, especially into space technology and weaponry. Growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, its former wartime ally and the other superpower, led to the Cold War.

Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev promoted Soviet glasnost (openness) and perestroika (economic restructuring). A U.S.-Soviet summit meeting in 1986 and 1987 and a meeting of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev in late 1988 brought arms control cuts in Europe.

Russian Federation

For details see the main article History of post-Soviet Russia.

As the Russian republic's Boris Yeltsin eclipsed Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in power, the disintegration of Communist allies in Eastern Europe eventually triggered the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the independence of the Russian Federation.

Russian History in Film

  • Russian Ark (2002) Three hundred years of Russian history presented in a single take.

Related histories

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Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45