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Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825
1453 Through the Reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) The Time of Troubles to the First Romanovs (1598-1682) Peter the Great and His Legacy (1682-1762) The Age of Catherine the Great (1762-1801) The Reign of Emperor Alexander I (1801-1825)


Explore this Section:

Peasant Revolts
Church Schism (Raskol)
Origins of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment

Russia's Globalization:
A Key

Events marked Russia Symbol are specific to Muscovy/Russia's internal development.
Those marked World Symbol are important world historical or cultural events.
Engagement Symbol indicates specific points of sociocultural or military engagement between Muscovy/Russia and foreign powers or individuals.



     Peasant Revolts

Four major peasant revolts took place in Russia in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries. The revolts attracted army men, fugitive peasants, Cossacks, poor townspeople, as well as slaves, brigands, and drifters. The uprisings often started in the South—a haven for outlaws—and spread to the populous villages of the east and north, such as Saratov and Simbirsk. The revolt led by Stepan Timofeevich Razin (d. 1671) between 1667 and 1671, for instance, originated in the Don and Volga regions. The Cossacks constituted the stable core of the insurrectionists’ military might, but otherwise, the rebels were usually weak and motley groups with conflicting aims and social, religious, and ethnic differences.

Rebellions took place against high taxes, lack of freedom, military recruitment, political instability, and oppression by the upper classes. At the outset, the leaders distributed letters (so-called Seductive letters) promising the desired reforms to the lower classes and urging them to join the ranks. The rebels usually enjoyed initial success and caused much destruction in the territories they penetrated. However, military disunity and lack of sophistication, as well as conflicts of interest, prevented final victory. Furthermore, none of the revolutionary armies overtook Moscow, whose capture could have brought about real political change. The rebellions were eventually put down by the government, but their leaders achieved immortality in folk legends.

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