Tsardom Russia

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Русское царство
Russkoje zarstwo Tsardom
Flag of Russia.svg
coat of arms
Seal of Ivan 4 1539 a.svg navigation Flag of Russia.svg
official language Russian
capital city
1547–1712 Moscow
1712–1721 St. Petersburg
form of government Absolute Monarchy
form of government autocracy
head of state tsar
currency Russian ruble
founding 1547
Russia's expansion around 1500, 1600 and 1700

Tsardom or Tsardom of Russia ( Russian Русское царство , transliterated Russkoje zarstwo ) was the official designation of the Russian state between 1547 , when Ivan IV had himself crowned tsar , and 1721 , when Peter I assumed the Latin title of imperator ( emperor ) and renamed his country the Russian Empire ( Russian Российская империя ).


The designation Tsardom of Russia is based on the ruler's title. In parallel, there is the designation Russian Empire , which covers the entire period between the emergence of a centralized Russian state under Ivan III. at the end of the 15th century and the end of the Russian monarchy in 1917.

In western European usage, Russia was often called Muscovia up to the epoch of Peter the Great . In historical science, the term Moscow Empire is also often used for this period. In addition to these two designations from the field of political geography, the sources also include Reussen or Ruthenia as designations for Russia, which refer to the Rus as an ethnic-cultural area.

According to the official title of Tsar Tsar and Grand Duke of All Rus (Царь и Великий князь всея Руси), the name can also be translated as "Tsardom of Rus" (the adjective русское originally derives from Русь ). The title reflected the Moscow rulers' self-image of being the free part of Rus' who laid claim to the Polish-Lithuanian occupied parts of Rus'.


Byzantine heritage

When the Moscow Grand Duke Ivan the Terrible was crowned Tsar of all Rus in 1547, the already under Ivan III. elaborated conception of Moscow as the Third Rome , the only remaining "home of orthodox (Orthodox) Christianity". Byzantine rituals, forms of government and state symbols such as the double- headed eagle found their way into Russian life. The coronation ritual of Ivan the Terrible, then 17 years old, corresponded to the coronation ritual of Byzantine emperors. The simultaneous self-image of Moscow as the free part of the Rus, which had a mission to completely liberate them from foreign rule , caused tensions and wars with Poland and Lithuania and with the later Polish-Lithuanian real union .

Contacts with Europe

In Europe, Russia remained a little-known country and the scant information that existed came mostly from Polish-Lithuanian hands. The situation changed somewhat when Baron Siegmund von Herberstein published his work Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii in 1549 . This provided an extensive description of the state formerly little visited and little described by Europeans. In the 1630s, the tsardom was toured by Adam Olearius . His detailed and expert notes have been translated into all major European languages. Further information about Russia came from English and Dutch merchants. One of them was Richard Chancellor , who sailed to the White Sea in 1553 and from there traveled overland to Moscow. On his return to England he founded the Muscovy Company with Sir Hugh Willoughby and some London merchants . Ivan the Terrible had letters exchanged with the English Queen Elizabeth I through the merchants .


reign of Ivan the Terrible

The first book printed in Moscow: The Apostle (1563) by Ivan Fyodorov and Pyotr Mstislavets

With the support of boyars , Ivan implemented a number of useful reforms in the early stages of his reign. In the 1550s a new code of laws was created that reorganized the administrative and military order. This reform was aimed at strengthening the Russian state against the background of the incessant wars it was waging.

Subjugation of the Volga Tatars

Despite internal turmoil that preceded Ivan the Terrible's adult reign, Russia waged wars and continued to expand. Ivan defeated and annexed the Kazan Khanate in 1552, marking the end of the long Moscow-Kazan Wars . This opened the way to Siberia for Russia . A little later, the Tsar succeeded in taking the Astrakhan Khanate on the lower Volga and securing Russia access to the Caspian Sea , which meant trade and cultural exchange with Persia and Central Asia . With these victories, Russia broke the long encirclement of hostile Muslim Tatar states and became a multinational and multi-sectarian country for the first time. At the same time, relations with the Ottoman Empire , which acted as the liege lord of the Tatars, and the Crimean Khanate cooled off dramatically.

War in the Baltics and against the Crimean Tatars

Encouraged by gaining access to the Caspian Sea, Ivan IV wanted to achieve similar success in the Baltic Sea . Sweden and the Livonian Order controlled the trade routes connecting Russia with Europe, making goods very expensive to import, while blocking some strategic goods. The Livonian War , which broke out in 1558, began successfully for Russia: the Tsar's troops conquered large parts of the Baltic States. Other territories were conquered by the traditional rival Grand Duchy of Lithuania , which had supported the Livonian Order. However, when this formed a union state with Poland as a result of the Lublin Union , Russia faced an increased power of its opponents. Devastating Crimean Tatar incursions, internal terror by the Tsar, and a plague epidemic further weakened Russia.

An Ottoman-Crimean Tatar attack on Astrakhan was repelled in 1569 and access to the Caspian Sea was defended. But in the Russo-Crimean Tatar War in 1571, the Crimean Tatars launched a lightning-fast attack on Moscow, as a result of which the city was almost completely burned out. A year later, the Crimean Khan and the Ottoman Sultan planned the final defeat of Russia and sent a huge army. However, this suffered a heavy defeat at the Battle of Molodi by outnumbered Russians. The danger from the south was averted for Russia, but in the west its opponents counterattacked. Russia lost its conquests on the Baltic Sea and had to defend its own soil at the siege of Pskov . After the conclusion of the peace treaty with Poland and Sweden, Russia was further away from its goals than before the war.

Conquest of Siberia

Vasily Surikov : The conquest of Siberia by Yermak (1895)

The Turko -Tatar Khanate of Sibir politically converged with the Crimean Khanate during the Russo-Crimean Tatar War and attacked Russian settlements in the Urals owned by the influential Stroganov merchant family . As a result, the tsar gave them the right to raise their own troops to protect their lands and to take action against the Siberian Tatars . For this purpose the Stroganovs hired the Cossacks living in the steppes between the Volga and the Don . In 1582, under the leader Yermak Timofeevich , a small (just under a thousand men) Cossack squad, well equipped with cannons and muskets, undertook a campaign against the Sibir Khanate . Skillfully exploiting the dissatisfaction of smaller Ugric peoples with Küchüm Khan , they were able to advance inexorably and take his capital Qashliq by storm. Although the Siberian Tatars then besieged the Cossacks of Yermak for a winter and ultimately ambushed them, the collapsed Siberian state could not be rebuilt. A few years later, the tsar's regular troops crushed the last resistance, while the Cossacks and northern Russian fur trappers used the new freedoms to find freedom or profit. Gradually, forts ( ostrogs ) and trading settlements such as Verkhoturje , Tobolsk , Mangaseya , Yeniseysk and Bratsk emerged .

time of turmoil

Polish Surrender in the Moscow Kremlin, 1612, painting by Ernst Lissner (1874–1941)
Tsar Michael I Romanov in front of the Boyar Duma

The death of Ivan IV the Terrible was followed by several years of rule by his ailing son Fyodor I , for whom the boyar Boris Godunov ruled de facto. With the death of Fyodor in 1598, the more than 700-year-old Rurikid dynasty also died out. Godunov had himself crowned tsar, but rumors of a miraculous survival of the young Tsarevich Dmitry , the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible, who died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 9, plagued the country. In addition, bad harvests plunged the country into a severe economic and social crisis. When Boris Godunov died in 1605, Poland-Lithuania saw a favorable opportunity to put a puppet benevolent on the throne in Moscow. A Polish army invaded Russia and made a man tsar who posed as Dmitry and went down in history as Pseudo-Dimitry I. His reign was short-lived, as he was soon killed in a revolt. But even the new Tsar Vasily IV Shuisky could not rule for long, because the Poles invaded Russia again to enforce the claims of Pseudo-Dimitri II and later their own king Władysław IV Vasa . Their intervention was accompanied by widespread terror against the largely hostile Orthodox civilian population. The Poles occupied Moscow, but a people's army led by Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitri Pozharsky formed in Nizhny Novgorod , which in 1612 besieged the Poles in the Kremlin and forced them to surrender . As a result, Michael I of the Romanov family ascended the throne of the Tsars and founded a new dynasty that was to reign until 1917.

Even if the war against Poland lasted until 1618, the year 1613 is considered the end of the time of troubles ( Smuta ). During this period, countless Russians died from starvation, foreign occupiers or robbers. In the meantime, state power de facto ceased to exist. As a reminder of the liberation initiative that came from the depths of Russian society and the refounding of the Russian state, the end of the Smuta was celebrated as a national holiday until the October Revolution. Vladimir Putin reintroduced November 4 , the anniversary of Poland's surrender, as a public holiday in 2005 as National Unity Day.

Union of Ukraine

Russia and Poland-Lithuania remained enemies. From the 1630s, feudal and religious pressures on the orthodox peasant population in Poland-owned Ukraine led to numerous uprisings by the Ukrainian Cossacks, of which the Khmelnytskyi Uprising (1648–1657) was the largest and the most successful. Royal Polish troops suffered numerous defeats in Ukraine, but Ukraine, too, began to bleed dry as the sporadically allied Crimean Khan often switched sides to plunder rich spoils in the ongoing state of war. The Cossacks under Bohdan Khmelnytskyi appealed to the Russian tsar for assistance. At the Rada of Pereyaslavl , the majority of the Ukrainian Cossack elite swore allegiance to the tsar and professed to be his subjects. In return, the Hetmanate was given extensive autonomy. A war began between Russia and Poland in 1654 , at the end of which in 1667 the part of Ukraine east of the Dnieper remained with Russia , together with Kiev .

church schism

Patriarch Nikon and Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in the Cathedral of Archangel Michael

In 1654–1655, Patriarch Nikon carried out church reforms that met with opposition from large sections of the population. The result was a split of the so-called Old Believers , who did not want to follow the innovations. For this they were confronted with state persecution until the time of Peter the Great , whereupon many Old Believer Russians emigrated to northern Russia, Siberia, the Baltic States and the Danube Delta ( Lipovans ).

Fyodor III. and Sofia

After the death of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich , who reigned for much of the 17th century, several years of reign followed by his elder son Fyodor III. This period saw the Russo-Turkish War 1676–1681 , in which Russia and the Ukrainian Cossacks were able to prevent Ottoman expansion into eastern Ukraine. After the early death of Fyodor III. there was a power struggle between several parties. Behind the younger sons Alexei, Ivan and Peter , both of whom were still children, stood the houses of Miloslawski and Naryshkin, to which the two half-brothers on the mother's side belonged. As a result of the Strelitzen uprising in 1682 , the Miloslawski party was initially able to assert itself, and the elder daughter Alexei Sofia became the regent . Their rule failed in 1689 due to two unsuccessful Crimean campaigns .

Reign of Peter the Great until 1721

The Peter and Paul Fortress as the core of the newly founded Saint Petersburg
The Russian battleship Goto Predestinazija , engraving (1701)

The young and energetic Peter seized power, while his half-brother Ivan V preferred a life in the monastery. Peter was a very energetic and patriotic ruler, but he soon realized that Russian society needed a comprehensive Western-style modernization in order to effectively defend its interests on the international stage. As part of the Great Legation , Peter undertook a multi-year journey through Western Europe to study know-how, form alliances and recruit experts. He was particularly impressed by shipbuilding, which he learned himself in the Netherlands . In order to be able to participate in European trade and the exchange of knowledge, Russia still lacked access to the Baltic and Black Seas , which could only be conquered and maintained in combination with a modern fleet. Above all, Peter's Azov campaigns in the years 1695-1696 brought this realization. Peter's journey was interrupted by the second Strelitzen uprising. The old tsar guard rebelled in Peter's absence against the introduction of western mores and the abolition of the old order. After his premature return, Peter violently suppressed the uprising , many Strelitzen were executed and their estate finally abolished. In the course of returning from Western Europe, Peter I began the Petrine Reforms .

As a result of the alliances Peter made in Western Europe, Russia entered the Great Northern War in 1700 . The aim was to conquer the access to the Baltic Sea that had been lost in 1617. The sensitive defeat of Narva against the then great power Sweden once again illustrated the need for comprehensive reforms in the army, which Peter began immediately. As early as 1703, the Russians conquered the Neva estuary , where the new capital, Saint Petersburg , was built to serve as a “window to Europe”. Peter had the Russian Baltic Sea fleet built on Lake Ladoga , which was protected from access by the Swedes . In the Battle of Poltava in 1709, the reformed Russian army won a decisive victory over the Swedes, further successes followed in several naval battles on the Baltic Sea. The Treaty of Nystad in 1721 gave Russia the Baltics and replaced Sweden as the dominant power in the Baltic region. In the same year, Peter had his country renamed the Russian Empire ( Rossijskaja Imperija ) and assumed the title of Emperor ( Imperator ).

See also


web links

Commons : Tsardom of Russia  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


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  6. Maureen Perrie (ed.): The Cambridge History of Russia . Volume 1, p. 256.
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