Siberia in the Seventeenth Century: A Study of the Colonial Administration

Siberia in the Seventeenth Century: A Study of the Colonial Administration

Siberia in the Seventeenth Century: A Study of the Colonial Administration

Siberia in the Seventeenth Century: A Study of the Colonial Administration

Excerpt

One of the most spectacular aspects of Russian history is the nique, enormous, and continuous expansion of Russia. The insignificant Muscovite principality succeeded in welding together numerous, mutually antagonistic segments of the Russian nation, creating a large state on the plain of eastern Europe. Blocked in the west by strong neighbors, this state, by the sixteenth century, had thrown tenacious offshoots and tentacles toward the East. Over the Ural Mountains went Russian merchants, wave after wave, adventurers and colonists, very much in the same way as Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French empire builders pushed across the ocean toward the Americas. The conquest of Siberia presents a picture somewhat analogous to the conquest of the American continent, and it is remarkable for the speed of the Russian advance. At the end of the sixteenth century the fall of the Siberian khanate (a small Tatar kingdom just beyond the Urals) opened the gate to Asia. By the middle of the seventeenth century the Russian Cossack conquistadors were on the shores of the Pacific. The end of the same century brought the whole of northern Asia under the hand of the Muscovite sovereign. Parallel with the conquest, presenting another human saga of heroism and viciousness, of valiant and vile deeds, went the less picturesque, but far more important process of the development and growth of colonial institutions. It is to be noted, however, that while the acquisition of colonies and their consequent administration by west European powers have aroused a great deal of interest and been studied in detail, the Russian conquest and colonial administration of Siberia have not as yet received sufficient attention.

In the twentieth century the subject of Russian expansion began to interest American historians. The ice was broken by Professor Frank A. Golder, who in 1914 published his Russian Expansion on the Pacific. Since then there have appeared two impressive bibliographies dealing with Russian history, compiled by Professor Robert J. Kerner contributions toward the study of the Russian past and present. Also, in one of his numerous publications, Professor Kerner made clear the significance of the search for a food base in the Russian exploits on and across the Pacific. Under his direction several investigations were prepared treating different phases . . .

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