предисловие - Introduction

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917.
It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union.
It was one of the largest empires in world history, surpassed in landmass only by the British and Mongolian empires: at one point in 1866, it stretched from eastern Europe across Asia and into North America.
At the beginning of the 19th century the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea on the south, from the Baltic Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean on the east.
With 125.6 million subjects registered by the 1897 census, it had the third largest population of the world at the time, after Qing China and the British Empire.
Like all empires it represented a large disparity in economic, ethnic, and religious positions.
Its government, ruled by the Emperor, was the last absolute monarchy in Europe.
Prior to the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 Russia was one of the five major Great Powers of Europe.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Extent of the Russian Empire 1914

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
For purposes of administration, Russia was divided (as of 1914) into 81 governorates (guberniyas), 20 oblasts, and 1 okrug.
Vassals and protectorates of the Russian Empire included the Emirate of Bukhara, the Khanate of Khiva and, after 1914, Tuva (Uriankhai).
Of these 11 Governorates, 17 oblasts and 1 okrug (Sakhalin) belonged to Asian Russia.
Of the rest 8 Governorates were in Finland, 10 in Poland.
European Russia thus embraced 59 governorates and 1 oblast (that of the Don).
The Don Oblast was under the direct jurisdiction of the ministry of war; the rest had each a governor and deputy-governor, the latter presiding over the administrative council.
In addition there were governors-general, generally placed over several governorates and armed with more extensive powers usually including the command of the troops within the limits of their jurisdiction.
In 1906, there were governors-general in Finland, Warsaw, Vilna, Kiev, Moscow, and Riga.
The larger cities (Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, Sevastopol, Kerch, Nikolayev, Rostov) had an administrative system of their own, independent of the governorates; in these the chief of police acted as governor.


Though the empire was only officially proclaimed by Tsar Peter I following the Treaty of Nystad (1721), some historians would argue that it was truly born either when Ivan III conquered Novgorod or when Ivan IV conquered Kazan. According to another point of view, the term Tsardom which was used after the coronation of Ivan IV in 1547 was already a contemporary Russian word for empire while Peter the Great just replaced it with a Latinized synonym.
Much of Russia's expansion occurred in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian settlement of the Pacific in the mid-17th century, the accession of Left-bank Ukraine and the pacification of the Siberian tribes.

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The state religion of the Russian Empire was that of the Russian Orthodox Christianity.
Its head was the Tsar, who held the title of supreme defender of the Church.
Although he made and annulled all appointments, he did not determine the questions of dogma or church teaching.
The principal ecclesiastical authority was the Holy Synod, the head of which, the Over Procurator of the Holy Synod, was one of the council of ministers and exercised very wide powers in ecclesiastical matters.
All religions were freely professed, except that certain restrictions were laid upon the Jews.

Holy Rus - Mikhail Nesterov (1862 – 1942)
Holy Rus alike with The Rus - the Kingdom of Heaven, the eternal czardom of God in the Heaven and on the Earth, is an important religious and philosophical concept which appeared and developed from the 8th to the 21st centuries by people in East Europe and Central Eurasia.
The meaning of the concept is close or almost the same as the concept of Kingdom of Heaven, known to the people of Western-European Civilization.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
The concept was closely connected with the word 'Rus', known among East Slavic people from the 8th century AD.
This religious concept developed through ages in close connection with Orthodox Russian Christianity which cannot be understand in its wholeness without the idea of 'Holy Rus'.
The idea of 'Holy Rus' developed in the realities of society of Central Eurasia under the strong influence of ancient East Slavic Orthodox Christian culture.
The idea made great impact on the emergence and development of many states and societies in East Europe and Central Eurasia through centuries: the ancient principality of Rus (the Rus of Kyiv), the Russian principalities in the state structure of Mongol Empire, Empire of Great Horde, the Russian Czardom and Russian Empire of the 16th to 20th centuries and even on the emergence and development of the Soviet Union which gave the birth to modern Russian (Russian Federation), Ukrainian (Ukraine) and Belorussian Republics.
The idea also made great impact on the development of identity of three modern Russian nations: Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians.

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Russian Soldiers Surender during the 'Great War'
During World War I, Tsarist Russia experienced famine and economic collapse.
The demoralized Russian Army suffered severe military setbacks, and many soldiers deserted the front lines.
Dissatisfaction with the monarchy and its policy of continuing the war grew among the Russian people.

The dissatisfaction with the war, the economy and the inadequacy of the government resulted in outbreaks of revolutionary activity.
The Tsar Abdicates
The February Revolution (March 1917) was a revolution focused around Petrograd (now St. Petersburg).

The members of the Imperial parliament or Duma assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government.
The army leadership felt they did not have the means to suppress the revolution and Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, abdicated.
The Soviets (workers' councils), which were led by more radical socialist factions, initially permitted the Provisional Government to rule, but insisted on a prerogative to influence the government and control various militias.

Soldiers of the Revolution
The February Revolution (March 1917) was a revolution focused around Petrograd (now St. Petersburg).
The revolution was inspired by the Bolsheviks, (большевики), led by Vladimir Lenin, which were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP), which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903.
On October 25, 1917 the 'Sovnarkom', headed by Lenin, was established by the Russian Constitution of 1918 as the administrative arm of the 'All-Russian Congress of Soviets'.
Under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, the Bolsheviks established the Soviet State on 7 November [O.S. 25 October] 1917, immediately after the Russian Provisional Government, which governed the Russian Republic, was overthrown during the October Revolution.
On 10 July 1918, the Russian Constitution of 1918 renamed the country the 'Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic'.

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Coat of Arms of the
Российская Советская Федеративная Социалистическая Республика
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic