SPICE: Russia 1450- 1750

By Chloe Calabria

Social

Russia was greatly influenced by tsarism. Social classes were very important and the tsars, basically emperors or rulers, were at the top. At the bottom were the serfs. These people were the poorest and were basically slaves. Women were very suppressed. Before they married, they only had rights through their fathers and after they married, they only had rights through their husband. Daughters of tsars had very remote lives. They were forbidden to marry foreigners or anyone below their rank. They were also often hidden from the public. It was not until the late 1700's that women's lives started to change.

Political

Ivan IV was the first Russian ruler to be called a "tsar" and the term was then used until the early 1900's. The tsars ruled the government and were at the top of the social class. Other elites, such as Peter the Great, also had important and influential roles in the government. The Romanovs were very important Russian rulers who continued to use central power. Centralized power was very helpful for many situations that arose. For example, there was a time after the tsar Feodor died called the "Times of Troubles". The main reason Russia survived this terrible time was because of the government's central power.
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Interactions with the environment

The Grand Duchy of Moscow, a very important state, experienced the greatest expansion in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. It is also known as Muscovy and it originated with Daniel I. Muscovy expanded from 30,000 square kilometers in 1462 to 5.4 million square kilometers in 1584.

The Ural Mountains were one of the most helpful geographical land masses because they offered protection from enemies and plentiful goods for trade. It was very cold and frigid in Russia (especially in the mountains) so the Russians used fur from animals such as bears and foxes to keep warm. Also helpful was the Volga River which served as a way to travel, trade, and even attack enemies.

Culture

There were many means of entertainment stretching from traditional folk music to extravagant ballets. These ballets were used to entertain the imperial court. The most developed cultural element was literature. Russian literature is among the most powerful and influential and is known all around the world.

Architecture flourished greatly in the 15th and 16th centuries because buildings were being made out of stone instead of wood. The most common buildings made were Orthodox churches with domes. These were so popular because Russia was primarily Eastern Orthodox although there were small Muslim groups. Education was very limited in Russia. Usually, only the elite were taught which meant there was never a real time of educational enlightenment.

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Economic

Serfdom was used throughout Russia. Wealthy landowners had a lot of power and they depended on their serfs to get things done. There was a small merchant class in between the wealthy and the poor but they were not very significant. Tradition was a big part of everyone's life which is the cause of no new technologies or advances in math and science. Trade helped Russia economically. Russia usually traded agricultural products and furs (primarily from Siberia) for gold. Before the Industrial Revolution, Russia was becoming very powerful, but it ultimately fell behind.
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