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Key Historical Factors


Russian history is commonly perceived, by Russians and foreigners alike, as something basically different from the norms and standards of the West. This popular view of Russias otherness has been epitomized in Winston Churchills famous characterization of Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Present-day Russia

Historians point to a set of factors that have exercised a profound influence on the course of Russian history for many a century and have contributed to its lasting distinctiveness in comparison with Western societies.

Five factors appear to have been of a particularly profound significance and will be  considered here:



  • the ecological environment and climate;

  • the geopolitical factor;

  • the religious factor;

  • the distinctive social organisation;

  • the specific political regime.


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Lecture Bullet Points
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Pre-Petrine Russia

Origins of Kievan Rus
Emergence of Muscovy
Imperial Expansion
Key Historical Factors
Environment and Climate
Geopolitical Factor
Religious Factor
Social Organization
"Service State"
Consolidation of Serfdom
Vast Powers of the State
Traditional Society
Political Regime


Tsarist Russia

Pre-Petrine Russia
Peter the Great
Catherine the Great
Alexander I
Nicholas I
Alexander II
The Revolutionary Movement
Appearance of Marxism
The Last Romanovs
The Birth of Bolshevism
The Revolution of 1905-7
Between Revolutions
The Revolutions of 1917
Interpretations of 1917
The End of an Empire
Tables and Statistics

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Russia from A to Z

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