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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:

The Age of Catherine the Great: A Summary of Russian History
Russia Symbol Introduction
Russia Symbol The Husband
Russia Symbol The Enlightened Absolutist Monarch
Russia Symbol Catherine's Foreign Policy
Russia Symbol Paul I
The Age of Catherine the Great: A Summary of World History
The Americas

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.




  The Romanov’s Heirs Saluted by Venice
NYPL, Spencer Collection

At the age of forty-two, after a long wait, Paul I succeeded his mother, Catherine the Great (r. 1762–96), to the throne. After five years of her son’s reign, Russians once again thought of hers as a golden era. Paul I (r. 1796–1801) despised his mother and tried to undo her policies; indeed, to prevent any more female rulers, Paul passed a law making male primogeniture the basis for succession. In the process, he made the same mistakes his father, Peter III (r. 1761–62), had made before him, and with the same result. Paul proved erratic and despotic: to the fury of his allies, he kept changing the course of foreign policy. Paul abandoned the anti-French alliance and switched his support to Napoleon (First Consul, 1799–1804; Emperor, 1804–14/15). During his reign, 12,000 people were arrested, exiled, or dismissed from office without trial; he placed restrictions on dress, on socializing, on travel abroad, on private printing presses, and on the importation of foreign books and sheet music; he nullified many of the civil rights of the nobility. Paul's preference for the bureaucracy in local governments and reinstitution of corporal punishment for the gentry further irritated the upper class. Fearful of revolution, he nonetheless provoked a coup d’état: on the night of March 11, 1801, sixty-eight aristocrats and military men acted in concert to murder the man perceived as a tyrant, and the elite breathed a collective sigh of relief.

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