1E Russia in the Age of Absolutism and Enlightenment, 1682–1796 (A-level only)

This option allows students to study in breadth issues of change, continuity, cause and consequence in this period through the following key questions:

  • How far were the rulers of Russia able to establish and maintain authority?
  • How and why did Russian society and the economy develop?
  • How important were ideology and ideas?
  • How far were objectives in foreign policy achieved?
  • How significant was opposition and how effectively was it dealt with?
  • How important was the role of key individuals and groups and how were they affected by developments?

Part one: Peter the Great and Russia, 1682–1725

Establishing authority, 1682–1707

  • The political, economic and social position of Russia in 1682: the Tsars and the nobility; economic backwardness and serfdom; Russia as a traditional, Slav society
  • The Regency; the role of the Streltsy; Peter as joint ruler and the establishment of sole rule
  • Westernisation; influences on Peter as a child; the Great Embassy; the reasons for and significance of the development of St Petersburg
  • Early reforms: economic and financial; political; military; changes in society
  • Opposition: the Church; the Streltsy
  • Foreign affairs and wars: wars against Turkey and Sweden

Increasing the glory of Russia, 1707–1725

  • Economic and financial reforms and their success
  • Orthodoxy and developments in the Church: attempts to increase the power of the Tsar
  • Changes to central and local government; the reform of the army and the introduction of the Table of Ranks and the Service State
  • Social developments, Westernisation and extent of change by 1725
  • Opposition: Astrakhan; Bashkir; Don Cossacks; Tsarevich Alexis
  • Foreign affairs and wars: wars with Sweden and Turkey; involvement in European conflicts

Part two: Enlightenment Russia, 1725–1796

The epoch of palace coups, 1725–1762

  • The legacy of Peter the Great: the Service State; the role of the Church; the gentry and serfdom; Russia’s involvement in international affairs
  • Disputed successions and the role of the Supreme State Council and the Preobrazhensky Regiment
  • Tsarina Elizabeth: accession to the throne; education and Westernisation; legal reforms; taxation
  • Social developments: the redefinition of the Service State; serfdom and serf unrest
  • Foreign affairs: intervention in Poland; failure to secure the Crimea; involvement in the Seven Years War
  • Russia by 1762: the extent to which Petrine reforms survived; the accession of Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great and Russia, 1762–1796

  • Catherine: character and aims; extent of influence of the Enlightenment and the impact of the French Revolution on Catherine
  • Developments in central and local government: codification of the law; the Great Commission; reform of the Senate; changes to local government in towns and rural areas
  • Changes to society: the importance of landownership and the gentry; Enlightenment and education; reforms to religion
  • The economy and the persistence of serfdom and its impact on economic development
  • Opposition and rebellion; plots against her and Catherine’s reaction; the Pugachev Revolt and its consequences
  • Foreign affairs and wars: Sweden; Turkey and Crimea; wars with Poland and its partition