1E Russia in the Age of Absolutism and Enlightenment, 1682–1796

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 (A-level only)

The epoch of palace coups, 1725–1762 (A-level only)

  • 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 (A-level only)

  • 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