Twentieth Century Russia

Twentieth Century Russia

Twentieth Century Russia

Twentieth Century Russia

Excerpt

If one could revisit Russia as it was in the year 1900, the most profitable way to use a few days might be to concentrate on Moscow and St. Petersburg (which would be renamed Petrograd in 1914 and Leningrad in 1924). Such a visit would reveal signs of the inner tensions between different cultural currents and epochs which were central to the development of modern Russia. During the last five centuries in particular, one of the most important of such tensions was between influences stemming from Eastern as against Western Europe -- that is, between the heritage of the Greek and Orthodox Empire and succession states of Byzantium on the one hand, and currents originating in Latin and Catholic states and, later, in part from Protestant and Germanic nations on the other.

The boundary between the areas in which the two influences were paramount begins at the southern shore of the Barents Sea, follows the eastern borders of Finland, the Baltic states, and Poland, then roughly those between the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Balkan countries, ending in the Adriatic Sea. Russia lies entirely east of that line, yet for much of her history Byzantine and Western influences competed for ascendancy in the theory and practice of her government and church and in her secular thought.

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