Czars of Russia
|1380||Moscow defeats Tatars in Battle of Kulikovo; Muscovite expansion begins|
|1453||Fall of Constantinople to Ottoman Turks|
|1469||Ivan III marries Zoe, niece of emperor of Byzantium|
|1480||End of Tatar authority in Russia|
|1547||Ivan IV is crowned Czar of All the Russias|
|1598-1613||Time of Troubles|
|1613||Mikhail Romanov becomes new czar; dynasty will continue to 1917|
Early Czarist Russia
In 1380, the nation we know today as Russia was a small collection of principalities—Muscovy, Novgorod, and others—paying tribute to the Tatars. By 1600, it had become an empire under Russian rule and had expanded its borders far beyond its original size. It was to grow much larger over the next century, eventually encompassing one-sixth of all the land on earth.
The major goals of the early Russian princes and czars were fourfold. First, they wanted to break away from the stranglehold of Tatar authority. Second, they wanted to consolidate power into the hands of one absolute monarch, with a capital city as a central power base. Third, they wanted the central government to consolidate and control all the elements of society, from the boyars (hereditary nobles) through the peasants. Last, they wanted to expand the empire to both the west and the east for strategic and trade purposes.
Although present-day Russia has one foot in Asia, this was not the case in its early history. Historically and culturally, it is an Eastern European nation with its roots in the western portion of the country, in the area bordering Poland and Scandinavia. Russians are a Slavic people, like most Eastern Europeans.
Russian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, not the Roman one used through- out the West. Therefore, the student may find variations, in both primary and secondary sources, in the English transliterations of Russian proper names and other Russian words. For example, both czar and tsar are acceptable Western spellings of the Russian emperor’s title. In addition, Russian names are somEtimes anglicized; for example, Pyotr becomes Peter and Yekaterina becomes Catherine.
Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:
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