History of Russia

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

Premodern history

In pre-Christian times, the territory of what is now modern Russia was populated by Iranic, Finnic, and Slavic nomads the west, with Turkic empires and Tungusic kingdoms dominating the east. Greeks and Goths established settled civilizations in southern Russia, leading to the Romans, Huns, and Khazars. In medieval times, the Kievan Rus, the Muslim Bulgars, and the Cuman nomads eclipsed the Khazars in the west. The Kirghiz empire expanded throughout the east, expelling the Uyghurs. The Georgian Empire and a diverse array of Iranic, Turkic, and Cauasian entities were established in the south.

The Kievan Rus entered a period of collapse in the 11th century. This was closely followed by the rise of the Mongols in the 13th century, a vast empire that united all of modern Russia under one state for the first time. By the end of the century, the Golden Horde dominated the west, while the Genghisid emperors ruled the east. In the 1300s, the Teutons, Poles, and various Russian principalities dismantled the Golden Horde. This eventually led to the rise of the Grand Duchy of Moscow as the pre-eminent Slavic state in the west, neighbouring the Siberian khanates of the center, ultimately flanked by the Mongol states and nomadic tribes of the far east.

Moscow ceased tribute to the Mongols in 1480 and rapidly blossomed in the next century. In 1547, the Russian Tsardom under the Rurikid dynasty was declared with Moscow as its capital. By 1600, the Russian state absorbed the Muslim Siberian khanates, reaching the Jenisej river. Further expansion east with enabled by Cossack-made routes and armies, such as the Babinov Road.

In the early 17th century, the Time of Troubles led to the end of the Rurikid dynasty. The Polish Vasa dynasty attempted to claim the throne of Russia but were eventually expelled. The Romanovs were crowned as Tsars soon after and would rule Russia for three centuries.

Late Romanov period (1701-1867)

The Tsar promulgated a new code of laws, established the first Russian feudal representative body, curbed the influence of the clergy, and introduced local self-management in rural regions. Ivan the Terrible doubled the already large Russian territory during his long reign by annexing the three Tatar khanates; Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia.

By the end of the 16th century, Russia expanded east of the Ural Mountains, transforming into a transcontinental empire. In the east, the rapid Russian exploration and colonization of the vast territories of Siberia were primarily led by Cossacks hunting for valuable furs and ivory. Russian explorers pushed eastward primarily along the Siberian River Routes. By the mid-17th century, there were Russian settlements in the Far East.

Colonization efforts in America

In 1788, the private Kurile Island Company was established for the purposes of representing Russian commercial interests in northeast Asia during the Kansei Restoration of Japan. However, the company was shortly after sponsored by the Russian government to explore and settle northwestern North America, in what was eventually to become Alyeska. The Aleutian Islands were eventually claimed for Russia in 1791. While initially instructed to maintain peaceful relations with the Aleuts and other indigenous peoples, Russian colonists soon began employing violence in order to expand and secure their settlements.

Russo-Dutch Treaty of 1832

Russian colonists, led by explorer Alexander Kolchak, settled on Kolchak Island (now part of Westerzee Province, Tussenland) in the early 19th century, competing with Dutch colonists of the Royal Tussenland Company. The colony soon became mismanaged and unprofitable, leading to the Kurile Island Company declaring bankruptcy and ceasing trade in the Salish Sea. In 1832, Russia and the Netherlands came to an agreement where Russia would give up claims to any territory south of the Gitimaet River claimed by the Dutch. This came to be known as the Russo-Dutch Treaty of 1832 and created the modern border between the sovereign nations of Alyeska and the Federation of Tussenland.

Attempts to revive the Kurile Island Company

The Kurile Island Company was revived in 1841, termed the Second Kurile Company to distinguish it from the first. After a disappointing twenty years of operation, the company was dismantled again. In 1861, the Russian Pacific Company was established as a successor, financed by the imperial government as well as several Russian, French, and Japanese aristocrats. Four years later, it would come to become the main governing body of the colony of Alyeska.

The Orange Reign (1867-1923)

The Great Game

Russia and Britain began competing for influence in central Asia in the 1840s, a region situated between Russian Siberia and British India. The installation of the pro-British Dogra dynasty in Tibet in 1840. After three decades of tensions and political maneuvering, the Great Game was concluded with the creation of the artificial buffer state of Serindia in the western Qing dynasty and the withdrawal of British and Russian troops from Afghanistan.

Russian Succession Crisis

The sickly Tsar Alexander III appointed his Dutch nephew-in-law, Henry-Williams, as a General-Admiral of the Imperial Navy in 1861 in order to reform and modernize the fleet. Over the 1860s, Henry-Williams had become extremely popular in Russia in contrast to the perceived dullness and lethargy of the Russian imperial family. After the long-awaited death of the Tsar in 1867, various members of the Senate and the gentry were split on who was to become the next monarch. The chronically ill Prince Ivan was heir presumptive, never being formally named, leading to a major governmental crisis.

Henry-Williams claimed the throne of Russia three days after the death of the Tsar. Eight months later, he was successfully crowned Tsar of Russia with the support of numerous members of the Russian media, the Netherlands, and his allies in the aristocracy. To appease the conservative and anti-Dutch factions of the gentry, Henry-Williams decided to officially co-rule with his Russian wife, Queen Anna Petrovna. In the press, they were commonly known by the epithet the 'Orthodox Monarchs of Russia', reflecting the grandeur and importance of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain.

Prince Ivan passed away in March of 1868, most likely due to coronary artery disease brought on by familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic condition which possibly afflicted his father Alexander III as well. Tsar Henry-Williams used this fact to present his bloodline as pure and healthy, in contrast to the decaying line to which the Alexandrine monarchs had belonged to. On this note, Tsarina Anna Petrovna and her close friend Joseph Ivanovich Melukov are credited with beginning the eugenics movement in Russia, emphasizing the importance of pure bloodlines to the Russian people, to the detriment of Jews, Tatars, and others.

Genrican period (1868-1884)

Being a past naval reformer, Tsar Henry shifted his focus to the expansion of Russia's influence in the Pacific. He created a Trans-Siberian railway to connect Russia's European core to its territories in the Far East. In the 1870s, the Russian court carried out a series of land & economic reforms that took power away from the aristocracy.

Russo-Ottoman War
Date1884 - 1885 (1 year, 23 days)
Balkans, Crimea, the Caucasus
Result Austro-Russian victory; Treaty of Angora
Ottoman Empire
Khanate of Crimea
Ottoman rebels
Moldavia (from April 1885)

Russo-Ottoman War

Due to the military and social reforms orchestrated under Tsar Henry-Williams, Russia's imperial ambitions in the south were greatly increased. A series of revolts in several Ottoman possessions in Europe during the early 1880s alerted Russia to the fragility of Ottoman rule in the region. Russia declared war in the April of 1884. After four months of war, Austria joined under the condition to annexing all Ottoman territories north of the Drin River. This promise made by Russia was ultimately unfulfilled in the resulting Treaty of Angora, with Austria only being able to annex Bosnia. This later upset relations between the two empires, a grudge which would manifest itself in the Great War, where Austria and Russia were on opposing sides.

In the final weeks of the war, Russia moved their soldiers into the eastern part of Moldavia, known as Bessarabia, eventually annexing it. This greatly aggravated the newly liberated country, which turned against Russia and maintained close relations with Austria and the Ottoman Empire as a response.

Formation of the Russian viceroyalties

The lands of the former Khanate of Crimea were transformed into the Crimean Viceroyalty. While the peninsula remained populated by indigenous Tatars, areas like Yedishkul, Oezue, and the Kuban were settled by Russians from the north. Many of these agricultural colonists left the Viceroyalty during the famines of the 1910s. Cities like Taganrog, Azov, Kazikermen, and Balisaray experienced rapid population growth, eclipsing nearby Russian settlements like Alexandrovsk and Sochi. Bessarabia, bearing the name Transpruthenia, would remain heavily populated by Vlachs and Bulgarians for the next several decades. A crucial Tatar minority of both Muslim and Christian faiths existed in the south, especially around the city of Akkerman.

During the Russian Revolution, Transpruthenia would be reannexed into the Moldavian National Republic. The Crimean Viceroyalty would be reconstructed as an autonomous national republic by 1930, with the Azov region being de-attached for strategic reasons.

Russian Revolution (1922-1928)


In the 1920s, the European Economic Crisis hit Russia especially hard. Already plagued by famines in the 1910s, a series of crop failures and poor financial decisions by the Russian imperial authorities caused a financial crisis known as the Russian Depression. A massive exodus of rural peasantry towards urban centers occurred, with thousands of people entering Moscow seeking work and housing. This led to a strict and apathetic crackdown and directly caused subsequent violence.

Several ghettos that formed in cities became hotbeds of republicanism and anti-elite sentiment, rejecting the notion of 'enlightened despotism' brought upon by Tsar Henry-Williams decades prior. By 1923, the underground political organization the Russian Republican Congress had accumulated over a million members and affiliates, with several million more being sympathizers. By the winter of 1925, the situation rapidly deteriorated, with violence now being targeted against the imperial family and the highest officials of state.

Storming of the Winter Palace

On December 3rd, the winter palace was surrounded by protestors who had originally congregated in the area to participate in a bread riot. The Russian aristocracy, including the Tsar himself, had fled for other cities and their holiday homes days prior and were unharmed. After two days of riots, the protestors broke into the Winter Palace and declared the end of the Romanov monarchy. Days before Christmas, the Russian Republican Congress declared the first Russian republic and the end of imperial rule. After a week of tensions, most soldiers of the former Imperial Military agreed to serve the new republican administration.

Russian Civil War
Date1926 - 1928 (2 years, 12 days)
Result - Russian National Congress victory, establishment of the Russian National Republic
Parliament of the Republic
Tricolour Army
Finnish rebels
Russian National Congress
Commanders and leaders
General Mikhail Orlov

Russian Civil War

The newly formed Parliament of the Republic was deadlocked a month after the Storming of the Winter Palace. The liberal republicans, inspired by the ideals of Dutch republicanism and British liberalism, strongly opposed the national republicans, more commonly known as the Vosstanists (from Russian восстановление). Several frontier regions of Russia further heightened the urgency of the situation. One of these movements eventually became successful, creating the nation of Turkestan a decade later.

In February of 1926, the first elections were marred with controversy. The Vosstanists walked out of Parliament, declaring their formal opposition to the liberal republicans. After a series of negotiations with military and Cossack leaders, including General Mikhail Orlov, the national republicans formed the Russian National Congress, accusing the Parliament of being an illegitimate institution. On the nineteenth, the Congress elected the revolutionary author and politician Anastaze 'Ozero' Muromsky as Chairman of the National Republic.

In response, Parliament gathered their sparse military regiments and militias into what became known as the Tricolour Army. Several regional leaders sided with Parliament, fearing that Congress would centralise the state and deprieve the former viceroyalties of their autonomy. The Black Sea region, the Baltics, and several other regions populated by ethnic and religious minorities provided men for the Tricolour Army.

The Vossatanists consolidated their power by enacting several social, martial, and economic programs, alleviating the worst effects of the famine and the economic crisis. Using authoritarian methods against dissenters and insurgents, they managed to confine the Parliamentarians to southern Russia by the summer of 1926. The Parliamentarians appealed to the Ottomans and the United Kingdom for assistance, but were given no response except for Finnish revolutionaries in the far north. By the winter of 1927, notable figures of Parliament left the country. By March of 1928, all major insurgencies had ceased.

National-Republican era (1928-19xx)

In 1932, Russia, along with Japan and China, declared war against the burgeoning empire of Corea. Ending in 1935, the war resulted in the annexation of Poeja and an assertion of Russian influence in northeast Asia. The same year, Russia entered the Great War in the spring of 1935 when the Ottoman Empire declared war against them. Russia joined the United Kingdom, Portugal, and others in forming the Cordial League. In 1936, Tripartite League forces laid siege to the city of Kiev for months. Chairman Ozero was forced to sign the Treaty of Akmolinsk in 1937, granting independence to the new Orkhonist state of Turkestan. Also in 1937, the Russo-Ottoman Compromise created the Rumelian National Republic and made Constantinople a Russo-Rumelian condominium. Russia's claims were formally acknowledged in the Congress of Amsterdam.

Ozero, leader of the country for nearly two decades, dies in 1943 and is temporarily succeeded by pragmatist Mikhail Orlov.


Russian colonization of Alyeska

Russia was the first European power to explore and settle the far northeast of North America. In 1788, the private Kurile Island Company, founded initially to explore the business opportunities in the Kurile Islands, was given by the Russian Tsar permission to explore the region of what is now modern-day Alyeska. A few years later, the tsar proclaimed the Ukase of 1790, which detailed the claims of Russia on the American continent. The Kurile Island Company was given a charter to the Aleutian Islands and eventually other parts of Alaska. Russians tried to settle Kolchak island in the south of their claimed land with the Port Alexander colony (1816 - 1832). However, the Russians eventually relinquished much of their claims in North America in the Russo-Dutch Treaty of 1832.

The part that they retained, Alyeska, was a mostly forgotten colony and a backwater for much of the 19th century, with a revolving door of colonization companies trying to find a way to profit from the region. Nevertheless, in the 1870s, after realizing the geopolitical importance of Alyeska to Russian interests, the Tsar founded and granted a monopolistic charter to the Russian Pacific Company to oversee the colonization and management of the territory. Since the company was state-funded, the Russian Pacific Company was able to pour more development into Alyeska than its private company predecessors. In the 1890s, gold was discovered in the Alyeskan territory. This resulted in an influx of immigrants from Russia and East Asia to Alyeska.

See also