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Western civilization altered significantly between 1450 and 1750. While Russia stayed an agricultural society, the West ended up being extremely commercially active and established a strong production base. A lot of the core areas of the West transformed; governments increased their powers, science became the focus of intellectual life. These changes resulted from overseas growth. Russia, on the other hand, was heavily concerned with territorial growth, ultimately becoming the primary power of Eastern Europe. From there, Russian tsars started a course of selective Westernization which, regardless of mimicing the West, kept them primarily outside the international trade system.
Russia’s early days had actually been shaped by the Byzantine Empire. When the Byzantine’s power faded, so did that of the early Russian Tzars. Prior To Peter the Great’s rule, Russians had actually had practically no contact with Europe. The feudalistic political and economic structure implied that tsars had problem consisting of the boars, or Russian nobility, who typically plotted against them.
Partially because of this hazard, the Tzars practiced absolutism, with the power of the Tzar backed by divine best approved by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Peter the Great’s reign became the turning point for Russia. Peter’s Russia was a huge, cold empire with nearly no transportation; no navy, a restricted army, very few good roads, and couple of warm water ports. Peter wished to reinforce his nation by westernizing it. After a long see to England and Holland, he went back to Russia convinced that the empire might just become effective by mimicing western successes.
The method he would do this was through military reform, reorganization of the bureaucracy, and relocation of the capital.
After the death of Peter in 1724, Russian territorial expansion continued. Catherine the Great took power. She was similar to Peter in a lot of her beliefs, such as her feelings toward Westward expansion. She also defended central monarchy. She flirted with the ideas of the French Enlightenment, often patronizing the arts and sciences. Russian nobilities gained new power over their surfs during her reign. Nobles became a service of aristocracy,
with the ability to inflict high levels of punishment on their serfs. By the time Catherine died, Russia had grown immensely. Borrowing from the West gave Russia’s culture and economy new elements to expand on.
Through Peter and Catherine the Great’s progressive imitation of Western successes in transportation, industry, military, and the arts, Russia was able to successfully expand its infrastructure beyond its agricultural orientation, allowing it to better manage its rapid territorial expansion efforts and remain a respectable super power among other western super powers.
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