IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > B. Early Modern Europe, 1479–1815 > 5. National Patterns, 1648–1815 > j. Russia
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1637)
j. Russia
RUSSIAN TSARS (1645-1917)
Rulers: Alexis (1645–76), Theodore (1676–82), Peter the Great (1682–1725), Catherine I (1725–27), Peter II (1727–30), Anne (1730–40), Ivan VI (1740–41), Elizabeth (1741–61), Peter III (1762), Catherine the Great (1762–96), Paul (1796–1801).  1
Economy: The Russian economy rested on agriculture, particularly upon grain production. Estates relied on increasingly intense serfdom to provide the necessary labor and trade with Europe. The number of artisans and merchants expanded during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the government encouraged some development through a new commercial code. However, the Russian economy remained primarily agricultural.  2
Society: The 17th century was dominated by efforts to restructure Russian society and religion. Russia also expanded its territories in the 17th century, notably into the Ukraine and Poland, which added diversity within Russian lands.  3
Alexis tried to overcome financial difficulties by increasing the salt tax and legalizing and taxing tobacco. However, his administration was troubled by corruption, and increased taxes led to rebellion.  4
1648, May
Moscow revolted against taxes and corruption. Alexis responded by arresting and executing some of the corrupt officials, but rebellion spread to many other cities.  5
Education: Theodore Rtishchev established a monastery in Moscow to encourage Kievan monks to come and teach languages and rhetoric there. Other schools were established during the latter half of the 17th century. They generally deemphasized science and followed a medieval arts-and-letters curriculum.  6
Ulozheníe, a new legal code (See 1649), improved government administration and solidified serfdom by eliminating the distinction between old settlers and new peasants, considering both as serfs.  7
Russia experienced an influx of foreigners in the 16th and 17th centuries. Alexis provided them with a foreign settlement, Nemetskaia Slobada, northeast of Moscow. Foreigners later influenced Peter the Great's efforts to reform Russian society and culture.  8
Russian church council accepted the verification of religious texts, the first in a series of church reforms. The verification project gained momentum under the patriarch Nikon. Nikon had the support of the tsar until a break in 1658. He expanded his reforms to include certain rituals (crossing oneself with three rather than two fingers, changing the spelling of Jesus, etc.).  9
War with Poland for the possession of the Ukraine (See 1654) after the cossack Hetman, Bogdan Khmelnitsky, had placed himself under Russian protection. By the Treaty of Andrusovo (Jan. 20, 1667), Russia obtained the Smolensk region and the eastern Ukraine, with Kiev. The outcome of the war was of great importance, because the Russian gains first brought the Russians in contact with the Ottomans in southeastern Europe.  10
Russian government began debasing the currency by adding copper to silver coins. Such debasement reflected Russian financial collapse in the 17th century and led to inflation.  11
War with Sweden (See 1655–60).  12
Copper coin riot.  13
Russian post office established.  14
Church council considered the changes made by Nikon. They defrocked Nikon for his efforts to gain political power but supported his religious reforms. This acceptance led to a SPLIT IN THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH; the OLD BELIEVERS refused to accept the reforms although they included no changes in belief. In later decades Old Believers colonized various territories acquired in Russian expansion.  15
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.