Russian empire as a multyethnic state
Westward Expansion (xvii-xviii)
Differences with the East
Estonia and Livonia.
The integrtion of Jews.
Autonomy of Finland.
Russian expansion on the West (Summary)
Colonial expansion in Asia.
Georgians, Armenians and Muslims.
Mountain peoples of the Caucasus.
The Kazakh Steppe.
The conquest and incorporation of Southern Middle Asia.
Category: historyhistory

Russian empire as a multyethnic state

1. Russian empire as a multyethnic state


2. Westward Expansion (xvii-xviii)

On the XVI century expansion to the West wasn’t
successful. In the course of the Livonian War, which was
lasted 25 years, large parts of Livonia and of the Grand
Duchy of Lithuania were temporary under Russian rule.
However, the defeat of Russia and the partitioning of
Livonia between Poland-Lithuania and Sweden
demonstrated that in the West Russia had come up
against great powers that were its match.
This experience was repeated at the beginning of the
XVII century, when Polish and Sweden troops occupied
large parts of the Muscovite state.

3. Differences with the East

In the West
Russia, which was centralists and
autocratic, was confronted with the task of integrating
societies which possessed a corporate organization,
different estates and regional traditions.
Annexing areas had socio-political organization,
economy and culture, that was more advanced than
those of the metropolis.
In the XVIII century these elements of the western
structures formed the model for a new, westernized
Russia, and the territories acquired in the west to some
extent became the areas in which it experimented with

4. Ukraine.

The agreement of Pereiaslav (1654) with the hetman of the
Dnepr Cossacks, Bogdan Khmelnytsky, and the ensuing
gradual integration of a part of Ukraine into the Russian
Empire have been and continue to be the subject of
controversial debates. The majority of Ukrainian historians
see the act of 1654 as an alliance between two independent
partners, but not incorporation. In contrast to this it has
been an axiom among Soviet historians that it represented
the liberation from the Polish yoke of eastern Slav brothers.
The Ukrainians were by far the largest no-Russian nation.
The similarity between the languages, membership of the
Orthodox church, and what is in part a common history have
always made the Ukrainians seem a special case to Russian


Ukraine, which had belonged almost entirely to the
Polish half of the republic of nobles since the Union of
Lublin (1569), was successively integrated into the
kingdom in administrative, economic and social terms.
There were significant differences between Galicia in
the west, which had already been part of Poland since
the XIV century, and the large areas in the east and in
the south that had been a part of Grand Duchy of
Lithuania until 1569 and had preserved a considerable
degree of independence.
The Union of Brest (1596) had created a Uniate church
that owned allegiance to the Pope, and had divided the
Kiev metropolitanate.


After the Union of Lublin the process of social, religious, linguistic and
cultural assimilation with Poland went hand by hand with increased
pressure on the Ukrainian peasants by the Polish landowners, and
they fled in growing numbers to the areas adjoining the steppe in the
south. Here, on the lower Dnepr, a Cossack community that was
loosely allied with Poland-Lithuania had been emerging since the XVI
century. Cossacks served in Polish campaigns. When Poland
attempted to gain control over the Cossacks, they reacted with a
series of armed uprisings.
In 1648-1649 an uprising under Bogdan Khmelnytsky turned into a
large-scale Ukrainian revolt against the Polish aristocracy, the Polish
administrators and the Catholic clergy. After a number of successful
campaigns the Cossacks were able to impose the military
organization of the Zaporozhian host and to create an independent
political entity. Since Poland was not willing to accept the secession
of Ukraine they were forced to look around for allies. In 1648
Khmelnytsky chose Khanate of Crimea, but it was unreliable ally.


After 1648 the Cossacks repeatedly offered to accept the tsar as
their overlord if he agreed to come to assistance. Muscovy had
recovered from a serious crisis, the civil war (smuta). Yet it didn’t feel
inclined to embark on a conflict with Poland-Lithuania. It was only
after much hesitation that the tsar Aleksei summoned an imperial
assembly and this agreed to establish links with the Dnepr Cossacks.
In January 1654 hetman Khmelnytsky swore eternal fealty to the tsar
in Pereiaslav, and in much the agreement was ratified in Moscow.
The tsar guaranteed the privileges and the independent judicial
system of the Cossacks host, its right to self-government, which
included the free election of the hetman. When the Cossacks in
Pereiaslav asked the Muscovite emissary to swear a reciprocal oath
he refused. The tsar could grant privileges. The Cossacks viewed an
agreement as a kind of military pact and this could be terminated at
any time. Muscovy regarded the Act as the first step towards the
incorporation of Ukraine


In the first instance the Dnepr Cossacks were welcome as military allies
able to protect the southwestern frontier, and this was why Muscovy was
prepared to grant autonomy to the hetmanate.
The war between Russia and Poland – Lithuania, which was began in 1654
shook the allience. In 1658 after the death of the hetmane, the Dnepr
Cossacks even reverted to the overlordship of the king of Poland. Russian
garrisons were sent to Ukraine. The Cossack hetmanate was split up into
two parts. The division was sanctioned by the truce of Andrusovo. The area
on the right bank of the Dnepr, was assigned to Muscovy for only two years,
though in fact it subsequently remained Russian. The Zaporozhian Sich on
the lower Dnepr should be under the protection of both powers. The
Cossacks of the left bank reacted to the partitioning of Ukraine with an
Henceforth the Ukrainians lived in seven different areas. In addition to the
two hetmanates there was Galicia, which was integrated into the Kingdom
of Poland. Carpath-Ukraine in the extreme west, which was part of Hungary,
and Bukovina – which formed part of the Ottoman empire


The hetmanate on the left bank together with the Kiev retained most of its
autonomy within Russia. Its military and administrative division into ten
regiments and its Cossacks institutions remained. The hetmanate also
retained much of its independence in economic terms. Russia confirmed
the privileges of the Cossack elite.
On the whole the tsar confined himself to exercising control over the
hetmanate. This was done by the Little Russian Chancellery (Malorossijsky
Prikaz), and the small Russian garrisons stationed in a number of Ukrainian
towns. In 1685 the Kievan Metropolitanate was finally placed under the
control of the Patriarch of Moscow.
The hetmanate on the left bank of the Dnepr flourished one last time under
hetman Ivan Mazepa. In the Northern war Ukraine became the theatre of
the military conflict and Mazepa took side of Sweden. The Russian
government reacted promptly to this by destroying the Sich. In 1722 The
Little Russian College was established.
The years after the death of Peter the great gave the hetmanate a breathing
space. In 1727 a hetman was once again appointed. At the same time St
Petersburg continued the policy of cooperating with the loyal Cossacks,
which was increasingly integrated into the nobility of the Russian Empire. In
the reign of Catherine II the autonomy of the hetmanate finally came to an
end. In 1764 the office of hetmanate was abolished, in 1780 the Russian
provincial administration system of taxation were introduced.

10. Belorussia

In 1654 Russian troops conquered the city of Smolensk. It had
formed part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since the beginning of
the XV century. The majority of the inhabitants in the area were
Belorussian peasants, it’s political and social elite consisted of Polish
and polonized nobles. In Smolensk the garrison and the rest of
population received guarantees that they had the right to leave the
city, but most of the citizens swore an oath of allegiance to the tsar.
Although Moscow guaranteed the possessions, rights and privileges
of the nobility and the urban population, numerous nobles were
resettled in interior of the Muscovite realm as the war continued.
After it had been conquered, the Smolensk district was incorporated
into the Russian administrative structure. At the same time a
Moscow central office (Prikaz kniazhestva Smolenskogo) was
established. The Uniate archbishopric of Smolensk was abolished,
and the Orthodox bishopric founded in its place.

11. Estonia and Livonia.

Russia conquered Estonia and Livonia in 1710. Since the Middle Ages this
area on the Baltic had acquired a central European character on account of
the Teutonic Knights, German colonization to the east, and subsequently
Swedish rule.
This was the first time revealed the dilemma of Russian policy on
nationalities in the west, the contradiction between the absolutist ideals of
the unification and systematization of the empire, and the function which
societies structured on central European lines performed for the
westernization of Russia in acting both bridges and models.
The ancient province of Livonia was founded in the XIII century, was divided
up between Poland-Lithuania and Sweden in 1561. Estonia and Livonia had
a special autonomous status in the Kingdom of Sweden. The corporation of
the nobility and of the towns had been able to retain their rights of selfadministration and privileges. The German and partly Swedish aristocracy
owned the land. Estonian and Latvian peasants were tied to the land as
serfs. Estate self-government was also linked to the Lutheran church. A
university in Dorpat was founded in 1632.


The first attempt (Ivan the terrible) to conquer Livonia was
unsuccessful. Peter the Great did it during the Northern War. Using
familiar and well-tried methods, Peter managed to obtain the support
of a part of the Baltic German nobility because they believed that
their self-government and privileges were being threatened by
Swedish absolutism. So Peter the Great justified the annexation of
Livonia and Estonia as liberation from Swedish oppression.
The basic principles of the Russian policy of incorporation –
preservation of the status quo and cooperation with the foreign elite.
The Swedish provinces of Livonia and Estonia were turned into two
provinces of the Russian Empire and the Governors were recruited
among the ranks of the Baltic Germans. The regional administration
and the judicial system remained in the hands of the corporations of
the nobility and the towns, whose privileges were confirmed. The
existence of the Lutheran faith and the state church were
guaranteed, as was the use of German as the administrative and
judicial language. The Baltic German elite was in fact better off than
under Swedish rule. The idea was to tap the economic,
administrative , military and intellectual abilities of the German elite
for the purpose of war and the modernization of Russia. Some Baltic
Germans also emigrated into the Russian interior and made an
important contribution to the modernization of Russia

13. Poland

The Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania was abolished and divided
up between Prussia, Russia and Austria in the XVIII century.
In the course of partitions of Poland the Russian empire
acquired a large territory of more than 450.000 square
kilometres with significant human and economic resources.
But the wide expanses of Poland-Lithuania were a foreign
body in Russia on account of their historical traditions, their
socio-political organization, their religion and their culture,
and the Polish resistance remained a permanent problem
and a destabilizing factor within autocratic Russia.
Poland-Lithuania was a multiethnic state (Poles, Lithuanians,
Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews). The King was weaker than
szlachta. The noble assemblies, the provincial sejmiki and
the national diet (Sejm) made decisions concerning
important issues, such as the levying of taxes and election of
the king.


In the first partition of 1772 the Kingdom lost about a third of its territory
and population. Russia acquired the eastern areas of Belorussia and Polish
Livonia. This region was inhabited by Belorussian peasants, an urban
population of which the Jews were the largest single group, and a thin layer
of the Polish nobles. The Poles reacted to the shock of the partition by
introducing reforms in the fiscal and educational fields, in the army and in
the political system, which culminated in the constitution of 1791.
The second partition of 1793 took away more then a half of the Kingdom’s
territory. A liberation struggle led by Tadeusz Kosciuszko ended in the 1794
with the Poles being defeated. The end of the uprising led to the third
partition in 1795. In the second and third partitions Russia acquired almost
all of the areas inhabited by Lithuanians, Belorussians and Ukrainians. The
majority of the population was not Polish, and Russian government justified
the annexation of the new territories as a gathering of the lands of Rus.
In practical terms Russian policy distinguished between four regions:
eastern Belorussia and Polish Livonia, right – bank Ukraine, Lithuania and
the Duchy of Kurland. With its Baltic German elite the Duchy of Kurland was
added to the Baltic provinces as a third administrative unit. The privileges of
the nobility and the institutions of self-administration were confirmed. The
districts which had been Russian since 1772 were subject to longer and
more intense integrational pressure than the main section, which was only
annexed in 1793 and 1795.


It was a crucial importance to reach a modus vivendi with
the elite. This was particularly difficult in the case of the
Polish nobility, in view of the fact that it was not only the elite
in social, economical and cultural terms, but had also been
the political nation of the kingdom and was unable to come
to terms with the loss of its independence and participation
in the political process. On the regional level Russia were
forced to fall back on the experience of the Polish nobles,
and filled most of the administrative posts with Poles. Polish
continued to be the language of the administration and the
courts, and Russia confirmed the use of the Lithuanian
Statute, the judicial code of Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The loyal Polish nobles were co-opted into the nobility of the
empire. Russia confirmed their owner-ship of the land of the
serfs which were attached to it, and employed them in the
administration on the local level.
Russia also confirmed the estate organization of the towns.
The situation with the serfs did not change in any way.


The Roman Catholic church was reorganized by the Russian government
without the prior consent of the Pope under the bishopric of Mogilev. The
government cooperated with leading clergymen in order to exercise control
over the Catholics. As for Uniate Church, Catherine II ordered Uniate
bishopes to be dissolved and members of the Uniate Church were received
into the Russian Orthodox church.
In the areas of culture and education the newly acquired territories
continued to be Polish in character.
The Congress of Vienna reestablished a Kingdom of Poland. Russia, being
the most important victor, received the mail part of the Duchy of Warsaw,
which Napoleon had created out of the Polish provinces of Prussia and
Austrian sections. The majority of Polish nobles hoped to restore the old
Polish-Lithuanian noble republic. Alexander I granted the kingdom a
constitution in 1815. Basic civil rights and freedoms were guaranteed and a
representative constitution with a tripartite division of the sejm into king,
senate and house of representatives came into force. The kingdom was
granted almost complete autonomy within Russian empire, its own army
with Polish officers and a kind of self-government . Polish became the
official language of the administration, the army and the educational
system. The Catholic religion was guaranteed. Only foreign policy remained
the prerogative of the tsar.


From a unusual concession Russian point of view they
included the lack of legitimation of Russian rule, the need to
take into account the views of other European powers, and
the striving for independence of the Polish nobility, with
whom Russia wished to cooperate. It planned to use the
newly acquired territory with its democratic traditions as a
model for a projected reform of Russia.
The contradiction between being an autocratic ruler in
Russia and a constitutional monarch in Poland was bound to
lead to conflict. The Poles expected that the tsar would
brought about a reunification of all the areas of the former
kingdom. On the contrary the policy towards the areas
acquired in the first three partitions developed in the
direction of greater integration with the Russian empire.
The uprising began in November 1830. As a result, the
Kingdom of Poland lost its sovereignty as a state.

18. The integrtion of Jews.

The large Jewish community came under Russian rule as a result of the partitions of Poland.
The government of Catherine II first pursued the traditional method of respecting the status
quo. In a manifesto issued in 1772 the Jews of eastern Belorussia were guaranteed all the
freedoms which they enjoy with the regard to their religion and their property. The kahal, the
Jewish communities institution of self-government was preserved, and so were its fiscal,
administrative, judicial, cultural and religious functions. Also Catherine II hoped to achieve a
uniform and well-ordered policy, and at the same time wished to exploit the specific economic
abilities of the Jews in the modernization of the empire. For this reason the legal status of the
Jews as an independent ethnic and religious group was abolished, and in 1770s-1780s the
Jews were integrated into the estate structure of the empire. Since they were neither nobles nor
peasants, rich Jews were incorporated into the estate of merchant guilds as members with
equal rights, and poor Jews into estate of the meshchane. Thus enlightened and absolutist
Russia did not initially discriminate against the Jews, attempting instead to integrate them by
granting them equality in administrative and legal terms.
An unmistakable act of discrimination against the Jews was the double tax burden imposed
upon them in 1794 . The statute of 1804 defined a pale of Jewish settlement (cherta
osedlosti), outside of which Jews were not permitted to take up permanent residence. This
comprised the formerly Polish areas, left-bank Ukraine and New Russia. Jews were henceforth
required to keep their accounts in Russian, Polish or German, and Jewish officials in the
municipal administration had to be able to read and write one of these languages, and were
not permitted to wear Jewish clothes. On the other hand the statute confirmed the religious
freedom and the economic privileges of the Jews and their participation in urban
administration. Its also guaranteed access to stat schools and universities, and the existence of
their own schools. In 1815 the statute 1804 was confirmed.

19. Autonomy of Finland.

In the course of its successful campaigns against Sweden Russia had
already occupied Finland on two occasions (1713-1721, 1743-1743), though
the country was only annexed in 1808-1809.The incorporation of Finland
into Russia can be compared with the integration of Estonia and Livonia.
Finland had been part of the Kingdom of Sweden since the middle ages.
The aristocracy and urban population spoke Swedish, and Swedish was also
predominant as the language of the administration. Finland was a remote
and economically backward Swedish province that the government in
Stockholm tended to neglect. So Finlandish nobles were oriented to Russia.
In 1721 after Russia had occupied the whole of Finland Sweden ceded to it
not only Estonia and Livonia and Ingermanland, but also parts of Karelia
and Vyborg. A number of other areas on the border were added to this in
1743. In 1721 Russia merely guaranteed the practice of the Lutheran
religion. In 1743 the Old Finland was granted an autonomous status.


The Grand Duchy of Finland, which was incorporated into Russia into 18081809, was granted an even greater measure of autonomy. This autonomy
was considerably greater than it had been Swedish rule. Grand Duchy had
its own parliament and an administrative and judicial system. This was
merely presided over by a governor-general as a representative of the tsar,
and not placed under the direct control of the central Russian authorities.
Russian military structures were not introduced into Finland, which thus did
not have to supply recruits and was permitted to maintain a small army of
its own. It was also separated in economical terms and demonstrated its
customs barrier, its bank and its coinage. Finland was linked to Russia
through the person of the tsar and his dynasty and in the domain of foreign
Russia made use of the method of guaranteeing the status quo and
cooperating with foreign elites. Finland’s socio-political order continued to
be determined by the traditional estates.
In 1812 Old Finland, which had been Russian since 1721 and 1743, was
reunited with the grand Duchy.
Nicolas I confirmed the special status of the Grand Duchy of Finland. For
this reason the Finlandish upper class subsequently remained loyal to
Russia. And under the Russian rule Finland experienced an economical and
cultural upsurge.

21. Bessarabia.

In 1812 the Ottoman Empire was forced to cede to Russia the territory bordered by
the rivers Dnestr, Pruth and the lower reaches of the Danube, which thereafter
known as Bessarabia. This area was a part of principality of Moldavia which had
become a vassal state of the ottoman Empire. The leading social groups were the
relatively numerous and socially strongly differentiated Romanian-spearing nobility
and the orthodox clergy. The Romanian-speaking peasants were free.
During the Russo-Turkish wars in the XVIII century Russian troops occupied the area
on a number of occasions, they were supported by the Orthodox clergy and a section
of the Romanian aristocracy. During the Napoleonic wars Russia again occupied the
Danubian principalities at the end of 1806. Due to the treaty of Bucharest (1812),
the principality of Moldavia was divided and the territory to the east of the Pruth and
the lower Danube was ceded to Russia. Russia was once again supported by a large
section of the Moldavians elite. The incorporation of Bessarabia into Russian empire
was at least to some extent voluntary. Russia again cooperated with the native elite
and that it confirmed the legal, administrative and social status quo. In 1818 the
autonomous status was confirmed. The administration, the legal system and even
the system of taxation were based on the existing order, and the functions were
performed by the region’s nobility, with the exception of those of the Russian military
governor-general and his staff. The landed property and the privileges were
confirmed and they were co-opted into the imperial nobility. The peasants continued
to be free personally. The Orthodox church was reorganized within the eparchy of
In 1828 when a new Turkish war focused attention on Bessarabia, the very large
measure of autonomy was considerably curtailed.

22. Russian expansion on the West (Summary)

Expansion to the west was a part of European politics (three Northern wars,
the partitions of Poland, the struggles against Napoleon and the Ottoman
The non-Russians in the West put up considerably less resistance to
Russian rule than the ethnic groups in the east and in the south. For
majority it merely signified a change of ruler, and not the social and political
The native elites were co-opted to imperial nobility. Russia confirmed their
privileges, estate rights and property. Initially the social and legal standing
of the urban population and the peasants also remained unchanged.
The practice of religious tolerance took place.
The use of the languages predominantly employed in the administrative and
educational systems was guaranteed.
Differing guarantees were given with regard to the administrative and
political status quo.

23. Colonial expansion in Asia.

For Russia Asia signified the world of the steppes and the world of Islam. In
the second half of the XVII and first half of the XVIII centuries Russian
economic and military pressure on the steppe increased.
Catherine II enlightened absolutism led to another change of course. The
eurocentric belief that Russia had a mission civilisatrice in Asia became
even stronger. In order to civilize the savage nomads, the Russians not only
promoted eastern Slav colonization, but also the educational and
missionary activity of the Muslim Tatars among the Kazakhs.
In 1822 M. Speransky first established the legal framework for the new
estate of the inorodtsy. They are included tree groups: the hunters,
gatherers and fishemen of the far north with the exception of the Chukchi,
who were given a special status, the nomads and the sedentary inorodtsy
who were deemed to constitute a transitional stage to full citizenship. The
1822 statute guaranteed the inorodtsy a very large measure of selfadministration based on the clan and tribal order. This statute combined the
traditions of the pragmatic Muscovite policy on minorities with the
enlightment aims of paternalistic concern and the mission civilisatrice.

24. Georgians, Armenians and Muslims.

Transcaucasia was part of the ancient Persian, Greek and Roman world. In IV
century Armenians became Christians, and developed unique civilizations with their
own alphabets, literatures and style of architecture than was based on Byzantine
models. Armenia witnessed a final flowering in X-XI centuries before it was
conquered by the Byzantine empire and the Seljuk Turks.
The mediaeval kingdom of Georgia reached its political and cultural peak in the XIIXIII centuries, and here the Mongols put an end to the Golden Age.
The history of the Muslims in Transcaucasia was closely linked with Iran.
Azerbaidzhanians was not a homogeneous ethnic group (the ethnonym first came in
common use in 1930s).
The XVIII century Transcaucasia had witnessed an economic and cultural decline
and had been fought over by the foreign powers. Since the XVI century western
Georgia and western Armenia had been part of the Ottoman Empire, Azarbaidzhan
and Eastern Armenia had been Iranian. The khanates of Karabakh, Gandsha, Sheki,
Shirvan, Derbent, Kuba, Baku, Talysh, Nakhichevan and Erivan, which were under
Persian overlordship, and the eastern Georgian kingdom, a union of Kartli and
Kakhetia which had existed since 1762, possessed a very large degree of autonomy,
as did the kingdom of Imeretia and the principalities of Mingrelia, Abkhazia and
Guria in Ottoman western Georgia.


Russia had been in touch with the ethnic groups of the Caucasus area since the
Middle Ages, and numerous noble Georgians and Armenians entered the service of
Russia. Peter the Great’s Persian campaign brought large parts of Azerbaidzhan
under Russian rule in 1723. In the course of opening up the steppe areas after the
victory over Ottoman Empire in 1774, Russian pressure on the Caucasus area
resumed in the reign of Catherine II, and in 1783 the east Georgian King Erecle II,
who was being threatened by Iran and Ottoman Empire, placed himself under
Russian protection. When the Persians invaded eastern Georgia in 1795 in order to
recover it, Russia did not honour its obligations. After the death of Catherine II
Russian troops once more withdrew. The final annexation of Eastern Georgia
occurred in 1800-1801. The new Georgian king Georgi sent a petition to the tsar
asking him to incorporate Georgia into Russian empire. Alexander I confirmed this
integration 12 September 1801.
The western Georgian principalities which were part of the Ottoman Empire, also
placed themselves under Russian protection between 1802-1811.
The Russo-Iranian war 1804-1813 led to the incorporation of the khanates of the
northern part of Azerbaidjhan into Russian Empire.
Another war with Iran led to incorporation of the khanate of Erivan and Nakhichevan
(1928) in eastern Armenia. Thus Persia was driven out of Transcaucasia. Southwestern group of Armenians was still part of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1878, during the war with the Ottoman Empire, Russia annexed the areas of Kars
and Batumi


Russian interest in Transcaucasia were primarily of a military and strategic
nature, though economic goals (natural resources and trade routes) also
played an important role. Whereas the majority of the Muslims viewed
incorporation into Russia as violent colonial conquest, the incorporation of
Transcaucasia as represented in contemporary Russian politics and public
opinion as the liberation of the Christian Georgians and Armenians from the
rule of backward Islamic masters.
The incorporation of Transcaucasia into Russian Empire did not proceed in a
straightforward manner. The politics pursued veered between a repressive
approach and the pragmatic one.
Most of territories were first integrated into Russian administrative system
after a phase of far-reaching autonomy under native vassals. This phase
varied in length. In eastern Georgia it lasted from 1783 to 1801, in most of
Azerbaidzhani khanates about 15 years, in western Georgia in the case of
Mingrelia and Abkhazia more than 50 years. The khanates of Gandsha,
Baku and Erivan were transformed directly into Russian administrative
In the middle of the XIX century the gubernia or province system was finally
introduced in Transcaucasia. The provinces of Tiflis, Kutais, Erevan,
Shemakha and Derbent were now headed by civil servants appointed by St.
Petersburg, and not by native rulers.


The Georgian and Armenian nobles received the same status as Russian.
At first the Russian government did not grant any privileges to the Muslim
upper class. It was only under Vorontsov that Russia, in 1846 recognized
the hereditary landowning rights of the begs, who were deemed to include
the minor Armenian nobles and drew them into the regional administration
Russian policy on the three religious communities in Transcaucasia was
inconsistent. The Georgian church, which was autocephalous for centuries,
was forcibly integrated into the Russian Orthodox church as early as 1811,
and from the 1817 places under a Russian exarch. The independence of the
Armenian church were confirmed in the statute of 1836, though at the
same time they were placed under Russian control. The Katholikos of
Echmiadzin, the spiritual leader of the Armenians, continued to be the true
leader of the Armenians in Russia. With regard to the Muslims of
Transcaucasia, Russia adhered to the traditional patterns of tolerance and
control. It confirmed the ownership of land and the privileges of the clergy,
who continued to play a predominant role in culture and in the educational
The preservation of an indigenous elite and the traditional civilizations
created important preconditions for the national movements.

28. Mountain peoples of the Caucasus.

The Caucasian region is characterized by an extraordinary ethnic diversity which is
unique in the world. The most important of the more than 50 ethnic groups from
west to east are as followed. In Dagestan there are more than 30 ethnic groups
(Avars, Darginians, Lesgians, Lakians, the Iranian Tatians, the mountain Jews, the
Turkic-speaking Kumykians and Nogai Tatars). In the bordering mountainous areas
of the Central Caucasus to the west there follow the Caucasian-speaking Chechens
and Ingushetians, then, on the upper Terek, the Iranian-speaking Ossetians, and in
the high mountains around Elbruz, the Turkic-speaking Balkarians and Karachai. The
linguistic variety corresponded to a colourful diversity of archaic and exotic manners
and customs which were repeatedly described by travellers. These ethnic groups
were differed
with regards to their economic lifestyles and socio-political
organization. In parts of Dagestan there existed khanates and sultanates with a
hierarchical social structure. However, there were great differences between the
communities, which were based on tribes, clans and groups. The common features:
religion (Sunni Muslims), tribal relationship with the unusual judicial system of adat,
which linked vendetta and hospitality as social institutions, and protected values
such as respect for old age. As the collective term gortsy demonstrates, the Russians
also viewed the ethnic groups of the Caucasus as a single entity.



In the middle of the XVI century a number of Kabardinian princes sought the
protection of the Muscovite tsar. At the same time Russia began to establish a
military presence in the foothills of the Caucasus by building a fort on the Terek.
From the 1730s onwards it established new forts, which were linked to form the
Caucasian Line from the Black sea to the Caspian sea.
The victory over the Ottoman Empire, the annexation of the Crimea, and the
protectorate over Georgia provided new themes in Russian expansion. A number of
khanates in Dagestan were placed under Russian protection. Work on the Georgian
Military Highway commenced, and the Kabardinians and Ossetians, who controlled
this, the only road over the Caucasus, were formally placed under Russian
From the end of the XVIII century onwards the mountain people reacted to the
Russian advance by repeatedly attacking both the fortresses and the Cossacks. The
Russian presence in the foothhills endangered not only their security and mobility,
but also their economic existence.
The fundamental resistance of the various ethnic groups and tribes became
particularly effective on account of Sufic Muridism. The murids derived their
integrational power from the attempts to introduce Islamic law in place of tribal
common law, and from principle of the Jahad which was directed against unfaithful
Muslims . The Holy war against Russia was organized by Sufic brotherhood. Under
the leadership of Sheik Mansur, the Chechens and some of the Dagestanis
conducted a guerilla war against Russians in 1785-1786. The Sufic organizations
arose in 1820s. The leaders were Imam Gazi Muhamed and Shamil.


Shamil (1797-1871), an Avar and Islamic education
was to remain in power for a quarter of a century. His
outstanding political, organizational and military
abilities, and his charismatic aura turned him into
the most important leader of anti-Russian Islamic
resistance. In the 1840s, with the theocratic
imamate, he created a highly effective centralized
political organization, and combined the slogans of
the Holy war and the introduction of the sharia with
the egalitarian goals which were also directed
against the Caucasian elites, some of whom
cooperated with Russia. The guarilla war led by
Shamil tied the Russian armies down for a period of
25 years. Russia lost tens of thousands of soldiers in
the Caucasus, and up to a sixth of the state’s
income. Since the Russian armies were to match for
the partisans in the mountains, they destroyed and
burned down villages, fields, and drove away the
livestock. Shamil was captured in 1859 and taken to
Russia, where he was granted an audience of the
tsar. He then lived in honourable exile in Kaluga.



After the defeat of Shamil, Russia moved against
Circassians in a brutal manner and by 1864 it was also
controlled the western Caucasus.
The government proceeded to incorporate the Caucasus
in administrative terms, and the military administration
was replaced by a civil administration as early as 1860.
The east was referred to as the Terek district, and the
west as the Kuban district, the greater part of Dagestan,
after the khanates had been abolished between 1859
and 1867, was appended to Transcaucasia as a selfcontinued unit.
Russia tried again to obtain the cooperation of loyal
elites. Members of the non-Russian upper class were
involved in the local administration, and to some extent
were given land. The Islamic clergy and traditional social
order of the Caucasians remained largely intact under
Russian rule.

34. The Kazakh Steppe.

The vast areas of steppe between southern Ural and the
Caspian Sea in the west and the mountains of the Altai and
Tienshan ranges in the east constitute the area settled by the
Kazakhs. The single most important factor in Kazakh history
was the nomadic lifestyle. Their socio-political organization was
tribal. In the XV century the clans of the Kazakhs split off from
khanate of the Uzbeks, and formed an independent khanate in
steppe, which subsequently developed into three hords – the
Little or Younger Horde in the West, the Large or Older Horde in
the land of seven rivers (Semirechie) in the East and the Middle
Hord in the intervening central steppe areas. In addition to the
khans elected by the various hordes there was a powerful clan
aristocracy consisting of sultans and begs.


Traditional opponents of the Kazakhs were Mongols (Oirats). In the first
decades of the XVIII century Oirat armies repeatedly descended upon
Kazakhstan, and defeated the Kazakhs on numerous occasions. This threat
led certain Kazakh khans to ask Russia for help. The khans call for help
gave Russia the opportunity to extend its political influence. Between 1731
and 1742 the khans of the Little and Middle Hordes swore an oath of
allegiance to the tsar. In the XVIII century the Kazakh Hordes were not
technically part of the Russian Empire.
The incorporation of the Kazakhs into the Russian Empire in fact occurred in
the first half of the XIX century. The Hordes experienced the internal crisis.
The Kazakhs had repeatedly rebelled against Russian suzerainty.
On the basis of the three Hordes the government first created the
administrative units of the Kirgiz of Orenburg the Siberian Kirgiz and
Semipalatinsk. After the conquest of Southern Middle Asia the Kazakh
Steppe was again divided up in administrative terms.
The southern area of the Syr-Darya and the land of the seven rivers were
added to the Governor-Generalship of Turkestan, which was established in
1867, the principal section in the north was divided into two areas and in
1868 assigned to the Governor-General of Orenburg and Governor-General
of Western Siberia. In 1891 a special statute regulated the local
administration. Here Russia cooperated with the non-Russian elite, though
the Kazakh begs were not co-opted into the Russian nobility. All Kazakhs
were assigned to the legal category of inorodtsy. They were not deemed to
be fully fledged citizens. They did not have military service.

36. The conquest and incorporation of Southern Middle Asia.

The oasis and river valleys of Middle Asia had become the seat of high
cultures which were based on intensive arable farming (with irrigation) and
on trade. Urban centers had arisen at the crossroads of the caravan routes,
which included the Silk Road to Chine: Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent,
Merv, Urgench, Khiva. With regard to culture influence, the two most
important factors were Iran and Islam. The ethnic and linguistic situation in
Middle Asia was always in a state of flux. The urban population was often
bilingual, and tribal or regional identity, religion and lifestyle were often
more important than ethnic or linguistic criteria.
The central areas were primarily inhabited by Persians-speaking and partly
turkicized Tadzhiks, and by various Turkic-speaking ethnic groups, of whom
the Uzbeks were the most important, In the mountains in the east there
lived Turkic-speaking Kirgiz. In the west,in the Kara-Kum desert lived the
Turkmen. Their language belonged to Oghus group of Turkic languages. The
southern tribes of the Kazakhs and the Karakalpaks also formed part of the
Middle Asia region.



Before it was conquered by Russia, there were
three polities ruled by Uzbek dinasties in Middle
Asia: the Emirate of Bukhara, the Khanate of
Khiva and the Khanate of Kokand. The Turkmen
were in part under the suzerenaity of Khiva and
Bukhara, and in part under Iran. In the river valleys
and oases the inhabitants practised arable
farming and in the mountains and deserts animal
husbandry. In the towns trade and large variety of
crafts flourished. Culture was dominated by the
conservative Islamic clergy.
Russia had maintained trade links with Islamic
centers since XVI century. Up to the middle of the
XIX century the khanates of Middle Asia remained
a little-known and exotic part of Asia. The conquest
of Middle Asia began in 1864.


At the beginning of the 1860s the American Civil war led to
situation where Russian textile industry was no longer being
supplied with sufficient quantities of cotton. Thus Russia was
forced to look around for alternative suppliers. And the fact
that it had an interest in controlling the Middle Asian trade
routes and in acquiring markets for Russian industry
products was repeatedly articulated.
After Russia’s defeat in the Crimea War the conflict with
Britain shifted to Asia. The humiliating defeat had proved
detrimental to the prestige of the elite, and especially of the
military leadership. Thus it was suggested that Russia
should demonstrate its imperial might in Asia. In such a
situation individual generals on the periphery were able to
take the initiative. Occasionally prompted by a personal
craving for fame, they conducted attacks which were
sometimes unauthorized, through subsequently sanctioned
by the government.


In may 1864 Colonel Cherniaev and 2600 men left Verny and moved
southwards. In the same year he occupied the town of Chimkent,
which belonged to the Khanate of Kokand. In 1865 he also
conquered Tashkent. As early as 1867 the northern areas of the
Khanate of Kokand were organized into the Governor-Generalship of
Turkestan centred on Tashkent. General von Kaufmann moved
westwards, routed a numerically larger army of the Emir of Bukhara,
and conquered Samarkand. In 1873 the Russian conquered
Bukhara. In 1881 a large Russian army with 20.000 camels under
General Skobelev moved against the Turkmen and stormed the
fortress of Gok-Tepe. The oasis of Merv was also conquered in 1884.
England was in opposition of Russian expansion. In 1895 two powers
divided up Middle Asia (Pamir treaty of 1895).
In contrast to expansion in the Caucasus the conquest of Middle Asia
did not present Russia with any particularly serious military problems.
Muslims were badly armed and politically divided. Thus Russia had
finally moved into the circle of the European colonial powers.


The Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanate of Khiva merely became
Russian protectorates, and remained independent under
international law. Bukhara and Khiva were opened up to Russian
merchants. The social-political structure was preserved. The Emir
and Khan continued to rule. Islam continued to form the basis of
society and culture.
The status quo was largely preserved with regard to local
administration, the judicial system and ownership of land. The old
elite took on certain tasks as elected offices in the local
The Middle Asia colonies were supposed to fit in with the economic
needs of the mother country. Russian textile industry got the supplies
of cotton. It had to be transported to the central regions, the
transport problem was solved by the construction of railways.
The Russian presence was restricted to a small class of
administrators, to garrisons and to the new Russian quarters which
were clearly separate from the Oriental quarters in certain large
Russian policy in Middle Asia followed the traditional methods of
pragmatic flexibility.
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