Russia from 1200-present

Russia from 1450-1750

Before 1480, Russia was under control of the Khanate of Golden Horde

Ivan III became czar (leader) of Russian Muscovy state in 1462

Ivan III declared independence from Khanate of Golden Horde in 1480

Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) took power in 1547. Allowed serfs to be free if they became Cossacks (warriors). Cossacks helped him expand into Siberia & Caspian Sea. 

Ivan IV died in 1584

The Time of Troubles began. Different lords were competing for power. No single monarch consolidated full power. 

In 1613, Michael Romanov took power (end of Time of Troubles. Romanov dynasty lasted until 1917, Ruled ruthlessly & consolidated hold on serfs (treated them like slaves), Used cossacks to expand empire. 

Peter I (Peter the Great) took power in 1862. Wanted to westernize Russia, led Russian army to Western cities to learn about military technology. Built city of St. Petersburg on Baltic Sea, hired western engineers to train his military. Forced people to wear western clothes.  

His granddaughter, Catherine II (Catherine the Great), took office later. She  promoted economic development & made Russia one of Europe's great powers. She loosened control over serfs & conquered Poland & Black Sea. 

Russia under Tsar Alexander II

Alexander II tried to expand southward into Crimean peninsula & Balkans

Many urban workers hated new factory working conditions & mounted revolts. Government restricted working hours to 11.5 hours a day (1897) & forbade labor unions 

Many peasants wanted better rights & more land. Group of peasants called intelligentsia mounted revolts. Anarchists wanted local councils & no central government. Police started arresting anarchists & rebels

Britain, France, Ottoman, Sardinia mounted coalition to prevent Russian expansion in Crimea, sparking Crimean War (1853-1856)

Alexander II emancipated all serfs in 1861 as he believed they'd eventually revolt. Many freed serfs were still in debt as they had to pay for land

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Count Sergei Witte developed a plan to industrialize Russia. Got foreign loans, commissioned trans-Siberian Railroad. Developed steel, coal, petroleum industries

Established zemstvos, government assemblies that debate on societal issues. Had legal reform with trial by jury & no unjust punishments

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In 1881, members of the People's Will (group of revolutionaries) bombed Alexander II. 

Russia under Tsar Nicholas II

Nicholas II took power in 1894. Wanted to distract against political & social issues in Russia, expanded eastward into Siberia

Japan was also expanding in Siberia, Russians lost in Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Many people despised the government & revolted after this

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Revolts in provinces with minorities (Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, etc.) led to turmoil, and the Romanovs couldn't restore social older. 

Nicholas II created Duma, Russia's first parliamentary body. Wasn't powerful enough to take over the government

In 1905, urban workers marched outside tsarist Winter Palace at St. Petersburg, wanted political reform (Bloody Sunday Massacre)

Government killed 130 protesters, Led to more protest activities among the peasants

Russia in World War 1

Russian loss in WW1

In 1914, as Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary & its ally, Germany, to protect the Serbians

Germany & Austria-Hungary invaded the Balkans

Russia invaded Prussia to attack Germany

Germans invaded Russia, causing Russia to lose miserably, leading to rebellion within Russia

March Revolution & Bolshevik Revolution in Russia (1917)

In Feb 1917, Russian peasants marched in Petrograd, wanted more food & land

Tsar Nicholas II abdicated (end of Romanov dynasty)

Two provisional governments existed for 8 months: One supported involvement in WW1, the other (Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies) opposed war

Lenin's Bolshevik party took over government & withdrew from WW1 after humiliating defeat from Germany

Lenin created the Bolshevik party, a subgroup of Soviets. Led Bolshevik Rebellion (Nov 1917). Gained popular support through ideas of land distribution & withdrawal from war

Vladimir Ilych Lenin (Russian studying Marxism in Switzerland) was sent by Germans to Russia to convince them to withdraw from WW1

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918)

  • Signed between Russia & Germany
  • Removed Russia from World War 1
  • Germany gained 1/4 of Russia's population & many Russian territories

    • Poland, Ukraine, Baltics, Caucasus, Finland​

  • Gave Russia a chance to deal with internal problems

Russian Socialism

General Timeline

Russian Civil War

Lenin's War Communism (economic policy)

Lenin's New Economic Policy

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Stalin's Great Purge

Stalin's First Five-Year Plan

Stalin takes over as dictator

Russian Civil War (1917-1922)

  • Lenin's army, the Red Army, executed all dissidents
    • Killed about 200,000 dissidents
    • Known as Red Terror Campaign
    • Even Killed Tsar Nicholas II & his entire family & all servants
  • Anti-Communist army, the White Army, lost to the Red army
    • Foreigners supported the Whites, which was negligible & didn't help much​
  • In the end, the Reds won, and 20 million died
    • More people died from disease & famine caused by the war​
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War Communism & New Economic Policy (NEP)

  • Lenin adopted War Communism in 1917
    • Had governmental control of everything
    • Forced peasants to give their produce to feed people in the cities
    • This led to many revolts
    • Agricultural & industrial production was down as people couldn't meet quotas & hated the policy
    • This was replaced in 1921
  • In 1921, Lenin started the New Economic Policy (NEP)
    • Allowed small enterprises to be privately owned
    • Allowed farmers to sell surplus crops at market (instead of government taking surpluses)
    • Still had government control of religious buildings, large industries, banks, etc.
    • Made technical schools to train engineers
    • Ended when Lenin died in 1924

Stalin's Economic Reforms & the Great Purge

  • Joseph Stalin became dictator in 1924 after Lenin's death
    • Known as "man of steel"
    • Known for ruthless tactics
  • Initiated First Five-Year Plan
    • Promoted heavy industry (steel, etc.) ​over consumer goods
    • Had collectivization of agriculture in which farmers live on shared farms
    • Had national centralization of economy
    • Eventually was successful
  • At his Congress meeting, he initiated the execution of all his dissidents, known as "Great Purge"
    • Ordered all dissidents to be executed or put in labor camps
    • From 1935-1939, 3 million Russians died

Russia in World War 2

Russia joined the Allies, an alliance with US, France, Britain, and China. 

In 1941, Germany attacked Russia (Operation Barbarossa). Defeated Leningrad, but Germany failed to quickly conquer more of Russia due to the vast Russian landscape. Russian wintertime forced Hitler's army to retreat

In 1945, Russia defeated Germany at Stalingrad. Russia attacked Eastern Germany through Poland while US, Britain, France attacked Germany from the west. Russia eventually took over East Germany

Russia's Military & Economic Alliances

  • Russia formed the Warsaw Pact (1955) with its Communist allies
    • Promoted communism
    • COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) was a bill that gave economic aid to communist nations to rebuilt after WW2
    • USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was a group of communist states under Soviet control
    • Warsaw Pact was between the USSR & 7 other satellite states (not part of USSR but under USSR authority) that had communism

Nuclear Arms Race

  • US & USSR competed for nuclear weapons
    • Both nations developed more advanced nuclear weapons to be able to defeat the other nation
    • Never actually used these weapons ("Cold War" means no actual fighting happened)
    • Eventually had super powerful weapons to destroy the entire world multiple times
    • Known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD): Both sides have the weapons to destroy each other but they won't do so

De-Stalinization & Detente

  • When Khrushchev took over USSR (1953), he wanted to remove effects of Stalin's cruel rule
    • Wanted more peaceful society
    • Ordered removal of all of Stalin's references (statues, history textbooks, etc.)
  • Next USSR ruler, Brezhnev, created Brezhnev Doctrine
    • After Hungarian Uprising (1956) & Prague Spring (1968), all of which wanted democratic governments, USSR forces intervened
    • Brezhnev Doctrine says Soviet forces can intervene wherever necessary to preserve communism
  • US & USSR later agreed to policy of detente (1967-1979)
    • Had reduction in arms race as it strained the economy
    • Also reduced mutual hostility

End of Cold War

Sinatra Doctrine & Reforms in Eastern Europe

  • Gorbachev wanted internal reform, so he replaced Brezhnev Doctrine with Sinatra Doctrine (1989), allowing any nation to chose their government
  • In Poland, a movement called Solidarity took over communist regime
    • Solidarity members took over most government positions, established democratic regime
    • Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa, became Polish president
  • In Bulgaria, popular unrest caused communist leader, Todor Zhivkov, to resign
  • Hungarians also tore down their communist state in 1989, had free elections in 1990
  • Czechoslovakia had velvet revolutions to overthrow the communist regime
    • Known as velvet as little violence was involved
    • Velvet divorce happened: Czechoslovakia split into Czech Republic & Slovakia (1993)
  • Romania had a violent transition into democracy
    • Nicolae Ceausescu, communist leader, didn't want democratic reforms
    • Secret police force, Securitate, killed Ceausescu
    • Democratic government was established

Gorbachev's Reform Programs & Failed War in Afghanistan

  • Arms race strained economy

  • Important resources were diverted to military instead of citizens

  • Standard of living was declining

  • Gorbachev initiated perestroika

    • Less centralization of economy​

    • Many hated it as more power came from having more wealth instead of higher family position

  • Gorbachev initiated glasnost

    • The idea of having less censorship & more dissemination of information​

    • Allowed people to openly criticize the USSR

  • Soviets lost miserably in Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989)

    • Soviets wanted to take over Afghanistan​

    • US allied with the Afghan mujahideens (soldiers) against Soviets

    • Soviets lost the war & lost a lot of resources, further straining the economy


Collapse of USSR (1991)

Gorbachev's reform programs led to decreased economic production, so many nations declared independence

Baltic Nations (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) started in Aug 1991

12 other nations declared independence afterward

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Since Gorbachev's power was basically gone, Yeltsin just took control & created Russian Federation. Disintegrated communist party (1991)

A group of conspirators attacked Gorbachev while in Crimea. Yeltsin crushed the rebellion

Boris Yeltsin created Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (Russia)