|History 101: Questions for “Russia: Land of the Tsars”
1) How did Winston Churchill describe Russia? This is a bit misleading given that Churchill was commenting on Cold War negotiations, but it still rings true overall.
“Russia is a riddle wrapped up inside a mystery inside an enigma.”
2) How many Russias are there?
3) How far back does Russia’s history go?
Way before the Tsars.
4) What was Russia’s history entangled with?
The ancient world and mystical Christianity.
5) How big would the Russian empire be?
1/6 th of the globe; distance across empire equal to the distance between Moscow and Chicago.
6) Why can it be said that Russia was never a single country?
Turks, slavs, Mongols, Finns, etc.
7) Before the Russian empire was created what connected (literally) the peoples of the Russias?
Vast river complexes—awesome and endless.
8) During the 9th century who sailed down the rivers and pioneered trade with Constantinople?
9) What did the native peoples call the Vikings?
Rus/land of the Russe=Russia
10) What was the greatest city-state in the Russias?
11) What did Prince Vladimir want?
Rule over the Russias as God given monarch.
12) What did he need aside from a powerful army to legitimize his rule and unite Russia?
Religion: went to Constantinople (Considered RC, Judaism, but impressed by wealth and power) and adopted Orthodox Christianity which gave him God’s authority on earth.
13) What happened when Vladimir died?
Civil war, brother Sviatopolk killed Gleb and Boris (who became first saints in Russian Orthodox Church).
14) What happened in 1237?
The Mongol Horde (sons of Ghengis Kahn) who had the greatest war machine in history attacked and in less than three years subdued almost all of Russia (Only ones to do so in 1,000 years history).
15) How long would Mongol rule last?
Two and a half centuries.
16) What would the Russians call the Mongol soldiers?
The “Tartars”—Eastern Turks
17) Did the Mongols rule over Russia directly?
No, they terrorized and made them pay tribute.
18) What title was given to the prince who gave the largest tribute?
“Grand Prince of Vladimir.”
19) What did the city-states of Russia need to do to resist Mongol rule?
20) When was Moscow founded and why?
Isolated outpost 12th century. By 1300s growing city built around a great fortress—the “Kremlin.”
21) What deal did Ivan I make with the Mongols?
Collect tribute from other princes.
*Moscow used Mongol support to control other princes and grew richer, but chaffed under Mongol rule over time.
22) What did Prince Dmitri do in 1380?
Rallied 50,000 on the River Don against the Mongols.
23) Did the struggle between the Russians and Mongols end?
Not for over 100 years; it was a long process.
24) When the Muscovite prince Ivan III gained enough wealth and power to cut off the Mongols and unite the Russians under one banner, what new title did he adopt?
Tsar, ruler of all the Russias.
25) What did Ivan III do when Constantinople fell in 1453?
Claimed Byzantine double eagle as symbol of absolute authority, and took princess Zoe (Sophia Paleologue) as wife to connect to Byzantium and Rome.
*Ivan now claimed Moscow to be the “new Rome,” and brought in Italian architects to build palaces and cathedrals. The Kremlin had stone ramparts 16 feet thick with 19 towers. It was a royal city within the city.
26) What happened to the peasant under Ivan III?
Could only move once a year during winter.
27) What did Tsar Vasily do that caused the Patriarch of Jerusalem to condemn him?
Locked up his first wife and married a second.
28) Who were the “boyars” and what did they do when Vasily died?
Power struggle; ruled, stole, murdered, intrigue.
29) What did Ivan the Terrible do at age 13?
Accused the Shuisky boyar family of treason and sicked his dogs on ???
30) After reaching into the past and adopting the title Tsar in 1547, what did he do to the boyars?
Took power from them.
31) What did Ivan do in the mid 1500s?
Expanded through conquest and created a true empire—lower Volga, Kazan and Astrakhan, trade routes to the East.
32) What was (is) St. Basil’s_____________?
Cathedral that became symbol of Russia.
33) Who was Anastasia and what effect did she have on Ivan?
She was from the Romanov dynasty; she calmed him down.
34) What happened in 1560?
Fire Moscow, Anastasia died, new and terrifying Ivan turned on his advisors, boyars, military heros—tortured and murdered. Gave him the name “Ivan Grozny”—the terrible.
35) Why did Ivan renounce the throne and leave the Kremlin?
Knew people would ask him back because Russia would fall apart, especially in Moscow.
36) When he agreed to come back on the condition of complete control, what did he do?
Began the terror—executions nobles and priests.
37) Who were the “Oprishniky” and what did they do?
Private army dressed in black; sanctioned to slaughter at will, type of inquisition/holy terror.
*It was said that Ivan developed a liking for torture, fused with mysticism, and killed entire families so there would be no one left to pray for the dead.
38) What did the Tartars do in 1571?
Swept north and sacked Moscow. In three hours burned to the ground and killed 60,000. Eventually, Ivan stopped them but 50-90% depopulated.
39) What did Ivan do to his beloved son and what were the consequences?
Didn’t like his wife and during and argument, struck him with his staff and killed him. Shattered. Guilt. Created a list of all he had killed.
40) What happened when Ivan the Terrible died?
Upheaval, famine, disease.
*Between 1598 and 1610 the Russian crown was weakened. Six different men claimed the title and either died or were deposed.
41) What did the Russians do to the Polish pretender to the crown?
Executed him and shot his ashes towards Poland.
42) How did Russia’s situation get worse?
Upheaval, Sweden and Poland invaded (Poles captured Moscow)
43) What did the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church do?
Called for an uprising of all Russians.
44) Who did the nobles, merchants, and priests search for as the new Tsar?
16yo boy with blood ties to Ivan’s first wife Anastasia Romanov.
45) Mikhail Romanov was crowned Tsar in 1613 inaugurating three centuries of Romanov rule. What did the boyars get in exchange for their loyalty?
46) What was the problem with the heirs of Tsar Alexsei?
Two families—two half-brothers and 1 half-sister.
47) What did Sofia do about this situation?
Used the Streltsi to murder Petr’s family, had both brothers crowned, and ruled herself.
48) Describe Peter.
Loved to build; left the Kremlin and at 13 built a fortress; 300 boy army to play war with (sometimes they died).
49) What happened when Peter turned 17?
Imposing figure (6’7”) backed by army, 1689 letter to his half-brother—“Time for us to rule;” had Sofia banished to a convent. Now Ivan IV and Peter I ruled Russia.
*At this time Russia was still medieval; they had had no Renaissance or Scientific Revolution.
50) What captivated Peter’s mind?
The West and anything modern; wanted to modernize and western ize Russia.
51) Peter had a passion for ships. What were the obstacles blocking his maritime ambitions?
Poles and Swedes in Baltic; Ottomans in Black Sea.
52) How did Peter finally defeat the Ottomans and take Azov?
Land and sea, sailing his fleet down rivers.
53) What did Peter do in the West?
Studied printing, iron mongering, paper making, classes surgery, anatomy, dentistry etc.
54) What did Peter do to the boyars and the streltsi when he returned?
Cut their beards (sometimes ripped them out) and cut their robes; executed 1182 streltsi.
55) What did Peter do while Charles XII of Sweden was fighting in Poland?
Established a beachhead on the Baltic on a boggy island in the Neva River; began building St. Petersburg and prepared for Charles’ return.
*Peter used massive forced labor to create his new capital. St. Peterburg was to be the foundation of a new Russia and to even out rival Versailles.
56) How did Peter respond to Charles’ march on Moscow?
“Scorched earth;” waited until spring and crushed with larger army; now master of Baltic.
*Now Russia was a great European power with its first newpaper; hospital; museum; schools for navigation, geography, mathematics, astronomy etc.
57) What was the problem with Peter’s heir Alexsei and what did he do to him?
Lazy, not bright, liked life luxury, didn’t want to be Tsar; imprisoned him and beat him, eventually died.
59) After remarrying a Lithuanian “camp follower” who gave him a male heir, what happened?
The boy died, two daughters, Peter died writing “Give it all to (dead).”