Russian Empire

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Russian Empire


a monarchical, estate-based multinational state existing from the early 18th to the early 20th century. It was formed from the centralized Russian state, which Peter I proclaimed an empire in 1721. In the 18th century, the Russian Empire included the Baltic region, the Right-bank Ukraine, Byelorussia, part of Poland, Bessarabia, and the Northern Caucasus; in the 19th century it also included Finland, Transcaucasia, Kazakhstan, Middle Asia, and the Pamirs. By the end of the 19th century, the Russian Empire encompassed an area of 22.4 million sq km. According to the 1897 census, the population was 128.2 million, of which European Russia had 93.4 million, the Kingdom of Poland 9.5 million, the Grand Duchy of Finland 2.6 million, the Caucasus 9.3 million, Siberia 5.8 million, and the Middle Asian oblasts 7.7 million.

There were more than 100 nationalities in the empire. Non-Russian peoples constituted 57 percent of the population. Tsarism brutally oppressed the non-Russian peoples and pursued a policy of forced russification; it suppressed ethnic cultures and played upon ethnic hostilities. Russian was the official language and was mandatory for all state and public instititutions. In Lenin’s words, the Russian Empire was “a prison of peoples” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 67).

The territory of the Russian Empire in 1914 was divided into 81 provinces and 20 oblasts. There were 931 cities. Some of the provinces and oblasts were combined to form governor-generalships, namely Warsaw, Irkutsk, Kiev, Moscow, Amur, Steppe, Turkestan, and Finland. The khanates of Bukhara and Khiva were vassal states of the Russian Empire. In 1914 the Uriankhaiskii Krai (now Tuva ASSR) was admitted as a protectorate of the empire.

The Russian Empire was a hereditary monarchy headed by an emperor who possessed autocratic power. The emperor’s power was affirmed in the Fundamental State Laws of the Russian Empire. Members of the emperor’s family and his relatives made up the house of Romanov. The emperor exercised legislative power through the State Council (from 1810) and the State Duma (from 1906) and administered the state through the Senate and Committee of Ministers. The emperor was commander in chief of the armed forces. The Christian church was also part of the state; the Russian Orthodox Church, which the emperor administered through the Synod, enjoyed a dominant position.

The entire population was considered subjects of the Russian Empire; all men from the age of 20 were obliged to swear allegiance to the emperor. The four estates, or “statuses,” into which subjects were divided were the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry), the clergy, city dwellers (distinguished citizens, guild merchants, the petite bourgeoisie, and posadskie liudi [merchants and artisans]), and rural dwellers, that is, peasants. The dvorianstvo, as the ruling class, enjoyed political power. The populations of areas such as Kazakhstan and Siberia were accorded a separate “status.” They were considered aliens and were governed by special statutes.

A vast amount of legislation was collected in the Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire and in the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire. The empire’s seal was a two-headed eagle with tsarist regalia; the flag had white, blue, and red horizontal stripes; the state anthem began with the words “God save the tsar.”

In the process of historical development, the Russian Empire in the second half of the 19th century passed from a feudal socioeconomic order to a capitalist stage, and in the late 19th century and early 20th it entered the stage of imperialism. At the beginning of the 20th century, the economic and social preconditions for a popular, revolution were present in the empire. The center of the revolutionary movement shifted from Western Europe to Russia. The 1905–07 Revolution shook the foundations of autocracy and was a “dress rehearsal” (ibid., vol. 38, p. 306) for the bourgeois and proletarian revolutions. The February Revolution of 1917 overthrew the autocracy, and the Provisional Government proclaimed Russia a republic on Sept. 1 (14), 1917. The Great October Socialist Revolution destroyed the power of the bourgeoisie and landowners in Russia and established a dictatorship of the proletariat. A Soviet socialist state was created, which proclaimed the right of peoples to self-determination. In 1917 the RSFSR was formed, followed by other Soviet republics, which voluntarily united in 1922 to form the USSR.


References in periodicals archive ?
Overall, however, in a mere 200 pages Eric Lohr has succeeded in alienating citizenship in czarist Russia and debunking anachronistic notions that citizenship has to do with borders and national identity rather than privileges and Orthodoxy.
The world of Czarist Russia is long gone, of course, but the young actor sees modern parallels to the story.
That's a lot of rifles, but Czarist Russia gave Remington its single biggest military WWI contract.
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Created in the 19th century, "The Protocols" was circulated in Czarist Russia and Nazi Germany and remains a staple of anti-Semitic groups.
The emperor and his troops were poised for action Saturday on the banks of the river Nemunas in Kaunas, with more than 1,000 history buffs re-enacting Bonaparte's June 24, 1812 assault on Czarist Russia.
Chronicling the story of Sergey through Czarist Russia and their departure from their home land towards England.
You can imagine my delight then, to note that this year's Christmas trends will be heavily inspired by czarist Russia and the Orient.
Stones Don't Bear Witness" is a historical mystery from Boris Sandler, a Russian author drawing on events of the waning days of Czarist Russia and the plight of Jews of the time.
Prussia too, like Czarist Russia, was facing some problems with the Jews (imaginary problems rather than real).
Of special interest is the relationship between the Native people and czarist Russia and later, communist Russia.