Imperial Russia

  • Period: Jan 1, 1462 to Oct 27, 1505

    Reign of Ivan the Great

    Ivan III, the Russian prince ruling in the latter half of the fifteenth century, established the independence of Moscow and expanded its territorial rulings.
  • Nov 11, 1480

    Russian Independence

    Russian Independence
    In 1480, Ivan III, the grand prince of Moscow (later known as Ivan the Great) stopped paying tribute to the grand Khan Ahmed. Ivan's action in effect declared Russian independence from Mongol rule. Moscow was the most powerful of several Russian principalities under Mongol rule, and Ivan III's territorial acquisitions following the break caused Muscovy, the principality ruled from Moscow, to nearly triple in size.
  • Period: Dec 3, 1533 to

    Reign of Ivan the Terrible

    Better known as Ivan the Terrible, Ivan IV was one of the most peculiar figures in Russian history. Intelligent and devout, the word usually translated "Terrible" in his contemporaries' name for him actually carry more of a connotation of might and power than cruelty and horror. His oppressive policies reflect the fact that he had dangerous enemies. However, his recurrent rages and outbreaks of mental illness also explain some of his erratic behavior.
  • Aug 7, 1560

    Death of Anastasia

    Death of Anastasia
    Before the death of his first wife, Anastasia, Ivan IV improved administration and rooted out corruption in the church and government of his empire. Many believe Anastasia served as a neutralizer to her husband's transient character. With her death to a lingering illness, Ivan IV suspected the nobles (boyars) of murder. Recent archaeological and forensic investigation has revealed possible support for the furious husband's claims.
  • Jan 3, 1565

    Oprichnina Initiated

    Oprichnina Initiated
    Enraged at the allegedly murderous boyars, Ivan IV relinquished the throne, insisting that they prevented him from governing effectively. Envoys begged him to return to the throne, and he agreed on the condition that he receive greater power and control. In the following years, Ivan IV embarked upon his reign of terror, with secret police, public executions, and land confiscations all a part of the Oprichnina period.
  • Death of Ivan the Terrible

    Death of Ivan the Terrible
    Ivan IV died, leaving no capable heir because he killed his oldest son himself. Russia fell into civil war, which brought a devastating famine and Polish and Swedish invasion in the wake of its chaos: the Time of Troubles.
  • Romanov Dynasty Established

    Romanov Dynasty Established
    By 1610, Polish and Swedish armies seriously threatened the integrity of Muscovy. Panicking civilians formed a volunteer army to expel the invaders and elected a tsar. In 1613 representatives selected Mikhail Romanov, a relative of Ivan IV's first wife Anastasia, as the new tsar. The Romanov dynasty would endure uninterrupted until the revolutions of 1917.
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    Reign of Peter the Great

    During the seventeenth century, tsars had limited trading rights of western European merchants; among other restrictions, they had to limit their activity to a suburb of Moscow. Future Tsar Peter I (widely known as Peter the Great) spent much of his youth in the foreigner's quarters, where he developed a fascination for technology and western influence. Soon after ascending the imperial throne, Peter instigated a policy of rapid modernization.
  • Execution of Avvakum Petrov

    Execution of Avvakum Petrov
    In the seventeenth century, a monk known as Patriarch Nikon initiated a wide range of reforms in the Russian Orthodox Church, intended to bring Russian theology into line with other Eastern Orthodox churches. Among the dissenters was the priest Avvakum. The government outlawed "Old Belief," but ultimately reached a truce, allowing Old Believers to practice their faith quietly or in out-of-the-way places. Nevertheless, for centuries many of Russia's most prominent citizens held to the Old Belief.
  • Founding of St. Petersburg

    Founding of St. Petersburg
    A symbol of Peter's westernization, St. Petersburg provided a "Window on the West" as a new capital on the Baltic Sea. After Peter I, Russia claimed two capitals: Moscow and St. Petersburg.
  • Treaty of Nystad Ends Great Northern War

    Treaty of Nystad Ends Great Northern War
    By Peter I's death, his military reforms had made the Russian army, at 300,000 troops, the largest in Europe. It proved its effectiveness in the Great Northern War Peter waged against Sweden.
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    Reign of Catherine the Great

    One of Peter I's most able successors, Catherine II assumed the throne after the assassination of her husband, Peter III. Catherine II continued to pursue Peter's westernization policies ... until it seemed that western European influence might threaten the tsarist absolutist rule. With high respect for western European lands, Catherine drank in Enlightenment philosophy and sought to grant reform throughout her society.
  • Execution of Emelian Pugachev

    Execution of Emelian Pugachev
    With this 1775 execution, Pugachev's Rebellion (1773-1775) was ended. Peasant anger ran high against oppressive tsarist actions, and the serous rebellion unsettled Catherine the Great and her western preferences. The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 would nail shut the coffin of Russian westernization: afraid of revolutionary turmoil and any encouragement western values might bring, Catherine abandoned the program of westernization and instituted extremely conservative policies.
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    Reign of Alexander the Liberator

    Reigning twenty-six years and eleven days, Alexander II was also known as Alexander the Liberator for abolishing serfdom with the intent of creating a mobile labor force for emerging industries.
  • Treaty of Paris Ends Crimean War

    Treaty of Paris Ends Crimean War
    Russia's tradition of conquest and expansion continued into the nineteenth century. Unfortunately for Russia, attempts to conquer the Ottoman Empire threatened to upset the balance of power in Europe. As a result, Britain, France, the Ottoman Turks, and the Kingdom of Sardinia formed a coalition against Russia, officially declaring war on October 23, 1853. The war ultimately led to Allied victory and the Treat of Paris, which marked a severe setback to Russian influence in the Black Sea region.
  • Emancipation Manifesto

    Emancipation Manifesto
    Having suffered devastating losses from the Crimean War, tsars realized the weaknesses of an economy based on unfree labor. Reevaluation of the Russian social order and a restructuring program took place, a key action among those taken being the emancipation of serfs in 1861. Tsar Alexander II abolished serfdom in the Russian Empire, stating, "It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait until the serfs begin to liberate themselves from below."
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    Reign of Nicholas II

    A well-intentioned but weak ruler, Nicholas ascended the throne of a dissatisfied country. Although Alexander II, two tsars his predecessor, had emancipated serfs in all Russia, the peasants remained poor and oppressed. Russia's embarrassing defeats and demolishment of her navy in the Russo-Japanese War only worsened Nicholas II's lot. The 1905 Russian Revolution rocked the empire during his reign, and the Romanov dynasty was ultimately overthrown with the rise of the USSR in 1917.
  • Bloody Sunday

    Bloody Sunday
    In a horrible massacre, unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Nicholas II were gunned down by the Imperial Guard. The fateful day brought grave consequences to the already-crumbling tsarist regime, whose disregard for the ordinary people undermined any last loyalty to the state.
  • USSR Established

    USSR Established
    In 1917, the Bolshevik party and the workers' Soviets, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Provisional Government in St. Petersburg. Thus ended the three hundred-year long Romanov dynasty and nearly five centuries of imperial rule in Russia. The Communist government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics would last until 1991.