Peter the Great Essay AP Euro

Topics: Russian Empire, Russia, Moscow Pages: 8 (2122 words) Published: December 3, 2013

Westernizing the East: Peter the Great

AP European History


The lands of Tsarist Russia once stretched from Scandinavia to the Pacific. The largest landlocked Empire in the world, stretching thousandths of miles across woods, plains, mountains, deserts, and the endless Siberian Taiga. 1The Russian people consist one of the most diverse ethnic groups in the world. In the west, descendants of Europeans known as the Kievan Rus founded Kyiv and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Yet these former Europeans are distinctly different, both physically and mentally than Western Europeans. 2The Eastern Steppe consisted of various Central Asian races such as the Tatars, the Mongols, the Ugurs, and the Turks, who occupied various regions of what would become the Russian Empire. One aspect of the Russian Empire that always seemed to remain constant was its path of warfare, whether it was defensive or conquering other Empires. The Russian Empire always wanted to increase the size of their land for economic reasons. 3The political philosophies of the Russian people and State constantly changed due to the position that the Empire was in. The story of Russia is dramatic, ruthless, and most importantly a failure. Authoritarian governments have ruled the Russian people, since the creation of Kyiv. 4Whether it was the Mongol Empire, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Russian Empire, The USSR, or the Russian Federation, all these governments oppressed their citizens. Peter the Great is an independent thinker in the history of Russia, he saw Europe as the centre of knowledge and culture in the world. He, unlike so many of his countrymen, wanted Russia to be fully incorporated in European society.

The Kievan Rus were the first to settle Western Russia. 5They established their empire around their capital of Kiev in the 9th century. The Kievan Rus expanded their empire both geographically and economically. They traveled long distances, reaching distant lands such as 6Central Asia, the Byzantine Empire, Western Europe, and the Arab world. Their empire expanded through various sections of Eastern Europe, in what is now Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Although they were masters of warfare and trade, intellectually, they were far behind Western Europe and the Arab world. Western Europeans viewed them as barbarians since they were not Christian and were constantly at war with one another. Since the creation of the Kievan Rus, there has been a constant mistrust between Russia and Western Europe. During the Middle Ages, Catholicism dominated every aspect of Western European life. 7The Rus were mostly pagans, believing in Nordic mythology. They remained pagan until 988, when Vladimir the Great baptized Kiev. Vladimir’s embassies had consulted with the Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and the Orthodox Church. The staggering beauty of the Hagia Sophia amazed Vladimir’s envoys, the church represented the power and beauty of the Greek Orthodox Church. Vladimir then decided to convert Kiev, the largest city in his Empire to Christianity. 8Politically, the Rus resembled Western Europe, except for the Papacy. The Monarchy of the Rus was oppressive and there was very little freedom among the peasants. The Rus developed a system of feudalism that remained in Russia until the fall of the Tsars and the introduction of the Soviet Union.

The Kievan Rus held Russia until the Mongol Hordes sacked Kiev and destroyed their Empire, Russian power shifted to the Grand Duchy of Moscow. The Grand Duchy of Moscow was still under constant threat from the Mongols, yet they paid a tribute to keep them away. 9The system of the Russian government would primarily remain the same, heavily influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church and dominated by nobles and the monarchy. 10The land owning class was referred to the Boyars Feudalism created an immense gap between the privileged and the peasants. The Grand Duchy of Moscow was economically...

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