Vol 21, No 3 (2022): The Petrine Reforms and the Peoples of Russia: On the 350th Anniversary of the Birth of Peter I


Eastward Motion of Peter the Great's Empire

Anisimov E.V.


The time of Peter the Great is notable not only for the reforms that transformed the country, but also for the emergence of new ideas of the place of Russia as a great power in the world. Peter the Great's imperial dreams went far beyond the establishment of Russia’s domination in the Baltic. He was mindful of the problem of the West-East relationship. It is important to take into account the tsar’s economic considerations. He was fascinated by the ideas of mercantilism and dreamed of turning Russia into a transit space between the West and the East. It would allow enriching the country. He wanted to create a unified transport system (mainly waterway) that would connect the Baltic and the East. In addition, the myths about the fabulous wealth of the East heated Peter the Great's imperial imagination. It manifested itself in sending expeditions to Central Asia and the Caspian Sea. Their purpose was not only to explore, but also to annex new territories. Peter the Great's imperial dreams were expressed most vividly during the Persian campaign, the aim of which was not only to conquer the northern part of Persia, but also to create a base there for an expansionist campaign to India. Peter the Great's plans were extensive. He intended to create a new city-port in the mouth of the Kura similar to St. Petersburg and a center of eastern trade. Thus, he planned to transfer the traditional trade routes between the East and the West to the territory of Russia. However, the tsar’s death prevented him from realizing these and other grandiose plans of conquest.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):312-321
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European Ideological Meanings in the Context of Peter the Great’s Royal Will

Chernikova T.V.


The article analyzes the peculiarities of Russia’s ideology during the reign of Peter I. The author raises the question of Peter's revolutionary nature and examines the relationship between the “old” and “new” in the field of ideological prerequisites for the turn of Peter's Russia towards Europe. There is also considered the role of Tsar Peter I in the selection, interpretation and propaganda of borrowings from the Western European socio-political thought. Particular attention is paid to the image of Peter I as a symbol of the “new Russia” in the perception of compatriots and Western Europeans. As vivid examples of the era, there are analyzed the history of Peter's relationship with prominent scientist G.W. Leibniz, mental overtones in the decrees on barbering and wearing European clothes. The author agrees with the opinion of S.F. Platonov that Peter's reforms were “a modification of the old order,” rather than a revolutionary change. However, it is noted that by allowing the development of scientific knowledge in Russia, Peter laid the foundation for the beginning of an intellectual revolution in the future in the minds of the educated Russian society.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):322-334
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The Inclusion of the Eastern Baltic in the Russian Empire: Methods of Peter I to ‘Increase the Fatherland’

Slavnitsky N.R.


The article examines the issue of how the Baltic territory was included in the Russian Empire during the Great Northern War. This process turned out to be very difficult in several aspects - military, diplomatic and managerial. In the first years of the war, Peter I did not at all consider the Baltic as a territory that could become part of Russia; the Russian troops devastated the territory; and ahead of the Swedish offensive in 1708, the occupied cities were ruined. After the victory at Poltava, in 1710, the situation changed; the entire Baltic region was occupied, and the Russian leadership began to establish relations with the local population. On this territory, the elements of local self-government were preserved, freedom of religion was proclaimed; in Riga, Revel and Pernau there were small garrisons with artillery weapons, which were under the jurisdiction of the local authorities. At the same time, a diplomatic struggle was waged for the inclusion of the Baltic in Russia. On the one hand, Sweden did not want to leave these territories at all. On the other hand, before the beginning of the Great Northern War, Peter I and Saxon Elector August II (who was also the king of Poland) reached an agreement that the territory of the Baltic States would be given to him. But as the Russian troops succeeded, Peter I began to gradually strive for the Baltic lands’ transferring to Russia. For a decade, diplomats had to maneuver, and in the end, they were able to achieve success - following the results of the Treaty of Nystad of 1721, the territory of the Baltic States (as well as Ingria) was included in the Russian Empire not only de facto, but also de jure. After that, it took several more years to resolve the situation related to landed estates.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):335-350
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Image of Peter I in Modern Historiographical and Public Discourse

Bagdasaryan V.E., Resnianskiy S.I.


The relevance of the subject of the research is determined by the request for rethinking the personality and political activity of Peter the Great from the standpoint of new methodological approaches in the development of historical science. The purpose of the study is to reconstruct the discursive space around the figure of Peter I and to conduct the classification analysis of the scientific and historical-journalistic approaches put forward in relation to it. When conducting the research, the authors relied on the combination of the theory of discourse and traditional methods of historiography. Based on the study of modern scientific and journalistic literature, there were described 8 historiographical models of understanding the activities of Peter I in relation to various methodologies of history. On the basis of the results obtained, the authors conclude that there has begun a new historiographical stage in the study of Peter the Great's time manifested in the change in the key dichotomies of the public discussion on Peter I. The forecast is made about the shift in the approaches to perceiving Peter I established in society under the influence of historiographical discourse and current political transformations.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):351-362
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New View of Peter the Great’s Instructions to Vitus Bering in 1725 in the Context of Struggle for Colonies in the North Pacific

Petrov A.Y., Ermolaev A.N.


The study is devoted to the detailed analysis of Peter the Great’s handwritten instruction to the head of the First Kamchatka Expedition Vitus Bering dated January 6, 1725. Despite its wide popularity, this document is still understudied and interpreted by Russian and foreign historians in different ways. The reason is that the instruction seems hard to understand; it contains inconsistencies and incomprehensible points. For the purpose of a comprehensive and maximally objective analysis, the authors conducted a historiographic study, identified the main points of view of historians and characterized them. Afterwards, a textual analysis was carried out. In order to make the most objective assessment of the instructions, the interpretations of this document were determined by the participants in the events (Vitus Bering, Alexei Chirikov, Martin Shpanberg, the Admiralty Board and the Senate). It was concluded that the instruction of Peter I was a real program of Russia's actions in the Arctic and Pacific oceans, aimed at decades ahead. It gave a powerful impetus to the study of the country's Far Eastern borders, contributed to the strengthening of Russia's influence in this region, led to the discovery of America from Asia, and the emergence of Russian colonies in the New World. The instructions also included the idea of opening navigation along the northern sea route and the development of sea trade. During the period of its maximum power, which Russia reached in the first quarter of the 19th century, the empire's possessions extended over the entire northern part of the Pacific Ocean. Russia claimed a part of California and the Hawaiian Islands, tried to open sea trade with China and Japan. All these successes were achieved thanks to the vector of movement that the instructions of Peter I set to the country.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):363-375
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G.S. Treuer’s ‘Apology’ of Tsar Ivan the Terrible as a Tool for Forming a Positive Image of the Russian Monarchy in Europe in the Petrine Era

Eylbart N.V.


The article presents an analysis of the historical, political and philosophical work of outstanding German scientist, Professor Gottlieb Samuel Treuer “Apology of Ivan Vasilyevich II, Grand Duke of Moscow, usually falsely accused of tyranny,” published in Vienna in 1711. It was found that this work was one of the first papers, one way or another devoted to Russian history, published in the West in the Petrine era. During the Great Northern War the tendency to compare the reign of Ivan the Terrible and Peter I was quite clear, due to the fact that the “Baltic issue” remained valid for Russia more than a century after the failures in the Livonian War. The Russian propaganda in Europe needed to present Ivan the Terrible as a great ruler, without excessive cruelty and tyranny. The analysis conducted by the author showed that Treuer brilliantly coped with the task. In his work he proved that all the actions of Ivan the Terrible were justified by the public necessity and the morals of the Russian people. The “Apology of Ivan Vasilyevich” also contributed to the fact that some representatives of German scientific thought got carried away by Russian history. Among them were, in particular, G.F. Miller and A.L. Schlözer.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):376-383
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Military Actions at Narva in 1700 According to the Memoirs of Swedish Warriors

Chirkin S.A.


The beginning of the Great Northern War was extremely unfortunate for the Russian State. The siege of Narva by the Russian troops and the defeat they suffered from Karl XII in the Battle of Narva (1700) were the hardest failures of Peter I during the Great Northern War and, at the same time, they gave an impetus to the acceleration of institutional development and reforms. This explains the attention of Russian historians to the circumstances of the “Narva catastrophe.” The memories, diaries and letters of Swedish soldiers, published at the turn of the 20th century, allow us to take a fresh look at the battle and the events that preceded it, given that there is practically no such evidence from the Russian side. In this regard, the purpose of the article is to fill in the gaps in the historiography of the initial period of the Great Northern War, to clarify some details concerning the state and actions of the Russian army on the eve and at the time of the Battle of Narva, as well as its position immediately after the battle. The scientific novelty of the article lies in the fact that most of these materials have not yet been put into circulation in Russian historical science.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):384-393
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The History of the Bulgarian Prince Ferdinand of Coburg’s Visits to Russia at the Late 19th Century in the Right Official Press

Demyanenko N.N.


This article, for the first time in domestic and foreign historiography, examines the coverage by the domestic press of the visits of the Bulgarian prince Ferdinand of Coburg to Russia at the end of the 19th century. After the death of Alexander III, Bulgaria began to take steps in order to restore relations with Russia. Personal diplomacy was of great importance in such situations. After the baptism of Prince Boris into the Orthodox faith, the first visit to St. Petersburg of the Bulgarian prince Ferdinand I took place. The main feature of the coverage of this visit in the press was that many publications had to rebuild their attitude towards yesterday's "false prince" and cover the arrival of Ferdinand of Coburg in the pages of their publications, taking into account the changed political realities. The first visit was followed by an invitation to the coronation of Nicholas II in Moscow in May 1896. The arrival in Russia in July 1898 of the Bulgarian prince with his wife Maria Luisa and the heir to the Bulgarian throne, the godson of Nicholas II, Prince Boris, became the apotheosis of these visits. Therefore, by the end of the 19th century, it seemed that an idyll had begun in Russian-Bulgarian relations. The article examines the very course of the visits, the main participants, as well to the Bulgarian prince (in particular on the basis of the diary entries of Nicholas II).

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):394-403
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Baptism of Adepts of Judaism in the Turkestan Krai in the Second Half of the 19th - Early 20th Century: Scope and Motivation

Litvinenko P.V.


The author considers the study of the issue of the Jewish population conversion to Christianity in the Turkestan Krai. The article reveals the religious situation in tsarist Russia related to the problems of Jews’ conversion, provides reliable facts of the conversion with regard to the most important Islamic outskirts of the empire - Turkestan, where the overwhelming majority of the population belonged to Islam - over 95%. The author examines the reasons for the conversion of regional Jews to Christianity and the real consequences of this process. The peculiarity of Turkestan made a significant impact on the spiritual life of Jews, on the nature and motives for the adoption of Christianity. In the Central Asian region, Jews were not a homogeneous group; they often had different features of culture and traditions. There were several Jewish communities there: the so-called “European” Jews (who arrived from Russia) led by their own chief rabbi; besides, in Central Asia there lived “native” Jews who got the status of Russian citizens and had their own rabbi. In this regard, it seems interesting to trace the conditions of the conversion of these different groups of Jews to Christianity, their motives and the attitude of official authorities towards them. It is important to note that the Jews of the Turkestan Krai converted not only to Orthodoxy, but also Catholicism, Lutheranism, Armenian-Gregorianism, and other faiths. However, the tsarist authorities believed that the conversion of Jews to non-Orthodox confessions was not enough to free them from the imposed legislative restrictions. In general, the example of the situation in Turkestan allows us to see that the features of the adoption of Christianity and the change in the legal status of Jews often depended on the region in which they were baptized. In addition, it was the factor of belonging to a certain Jewish community that played an important role.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):404-416
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Legal and Social Aspects of the Belarusian Economic Emigration to Canada in the 1920s-30s

Koval O.V.


The author examines the main features for the formation of the Belarusian economic emigration to Canada. The intensity of the emigration from 1921 to 1939 was analyzed, when the territory of Western Belarus was a part of Poland. The historical base of the research was the unpublished documents of the Belarusian, Ukrainian and Polish archives. The article presents the structure of state emigration bodies that were involved in organizing and controlling the recruitment of emigrants, their employment and the process of re-emigration. It describes the features of the Canadian legislation for the scale of the Belarusian emigration and the legal adaptation of emigrants. Particular attention is paid to the role of the Canadian railway companies “Canadian National Railways” and “Canadian Pacific Railways” in the selection of emigrants and their employment in agriculture and industry. The author argue that the Polish authorities stimulated the emigration of the Belarusian population for the polonization of Western Belarus. The problematic socio-psychological adaptation of the Belarusian emigrants, because Belarusians in Canada weakly expressed the national identity, is described. The author concludes that the international cooperation had an important role in forming the diaspora’s and national identity, especially the international contacts with the representatives of other peoples and the participation in common political organizations and projects.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):417-431
pages 417-431 views

Assigning Numbers in Nazi Concentration Camps as a Factor of Dehumanization: As Remembered by Soviet Rrisoners

Iakemenko B.G.


The author considers the semantic and semiotic meaning of assigning numbers to prisoners of the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. These concentration camps were formally designed to exterminate the enemies of the state, but in fact, in addition, they defined the limits of the possibilities of turning a person into a part of the total state. Assigning a number to a prisoner in a camp was the key factor in annihilating a person, transforming him into a sign, depriving a person of the most important anthropological properties, which ultimately facilitated the elimination of a prisoner. As a result of assigning a number to a prisoner, while staying in a camp, it became increasingly difficult for a prisoner to remember his own name; his inner essence "merged" with the number; his real name was forgotten. The reduction of a person to a number entrenched the deprivation of a prisoner of human status; it became the highest degree of degradation; it turned a prisoner from a person into a typical specimen with the sign of a person whose number correlated and entrenched the symbolic authenticity of the object into which a prisoner was turned. The assignment of a number took all the actions of the SS men regarding prisoners beyond any moral and ethical assessments. A person without a name, deprived of realizing his personal uniqueness and image - the necessary conditions for self-perception as a thinking, living being, merged with similar people; he was doomed to silence; he was turned into an object of influence.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):432-438
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Review of GosudarstvennyisovetvsistemeupravleniyaRossiiskoiimperii. Vtoraya polovina XIX v. [State Council in the management system of the Russian Empire. The second half of the 19th century] by N.V. Chernikova. Moscow: Nauchno-politicheskaya kniga Publ., 2021. 365 p.

Minakov A.S.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2022;21(3):439-443
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