Russian identity can be traced to the Middle Ages, with first eastern Slavic state known as Kievan Rus and its religion rooted in Byzantine Christianity adopted from Constantinople. Majority of Russians are Orthodox Christians.
Peter The Great established the Russian Empire in 1721, although the Romanov dynasty had been in power since 1613. One of Russia’s most charismatic and forceful leaders, Peter built the foundations of empire on a centralized political culture and promoted “westernization” of the nation. As part of this effort he moved the capital from the history rich city of Moscow to Saint Petersburg, a city built at a great expense and by a great effort of the Russian people. Best architects from France and Italy were involved designing the city. Saint Petersburg became known as Russia’s “Window on the West” and adopted the manners and style of the royal courts of western Europe, even to the point of adopting French as its preferred language.
The Russian Empire reached its peak during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, producing many colourful and enlightened figures such as Catherine the Great, Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Tolstoy. By the late 19th century political crises followed in rapid succession, with rebellion and its repression. The occasional attempts by the Romanovs and the privileged classes to reform society and ameliorate the condition of the underclasses invariably ended in failure. Russia entered World War 1 in the union of the Triple Entente; like other European Empires with catastrophic results for itself. Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, proved to be feckless, weak, and distracted by personal tragedies and the burdens of the war. The government proved unable to hold back the Russian Revolutions of 1917. Deposed and held under house arrest, Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children — and with them the Romanov dynasty — were exterminated by gunfire in the basement of a Yekaterinburg manor house and buried in unmarked graves which were found later and reburied in the Saint Paul and Peter Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.
World War I strained Imperial Russia’s governmental and social institutions to the breaking point of Revolution in 1917. Following a brief interim government headed by social democrat Alexander Kerensky, the Bolshevik faction of the Communist Party under Marxist Vladimir Lenin seized power, with the money provided by the German establishement, withdrew Russia from the war, and launched a purge of clerics, political dissidents, aristocrats, the bourgeoise, and the wealthy independent farmers. A brutal civil war between the “Red Army” of the communist leadership and the “White Army” largely consisting of foreign interventionists back by Britain, Germany and France lasted until late 1920. In his years in power, Lenin used the Red Army, the internal security apparatus, and the Communist Party leadership to arrest and execute many opponents of the nascent regime, and redistribute land that have long been owned by the large land owners to peasants who work in it (Collectivisation of agriculture would not take place until 1928). After the Civil War, Lenin adopted a New Economic Policy, which allowed certain sectors to be denationalized, as well as cancelling the practice of grain requisitioning that was widely used in wartime, as well as a loosening of political and cultural controls.
Vacation Travel ✿ Russia ✿