How Russia Was Made

By Frykholm, Amy | The Christian Century, January 17, 2018 | Go to article overview

How Russia Was Made


Frykholm, Amy, The Christian Century


Russia: The Story of War

By Gregory Carleton

Harvard University Press, 304 pp., $29.95

Lost Kingdom: The Quest for Empire and the Making of the Russian Nation from 1470 to the Present

By Serhii Plokhy

Basic Books, 432 pp., $32.00

How did Russia come to be the kind of nation that it is? What are the roots of its particular identity? Gregory Carleton and Serhii Plokhy take on these questions, and both turn to similar events in the nation's history and parse out their meanings in a similar way. But their histories are very different, and thus it is instructive to read them together.

Plokhy, who teaches at Harvard University, is interested in how Russian identity came to encompass Ukrainian identity, why it constantly feels the need to threaten Ukrainian independence in the name of a unified Russia, and what this means for the future of the geopolitical area. But Lost Kingdom does not begin where so many histories of Russia begin.

Typically, such histories, especially of the romantic variety, begin in the tenth century when Prince Volodymyr (Ukrainian spelling) or Vladimir (Russian spelling) united himself and his people with Orthodox Christianity, thus establishing his kingdom as an enemy to the invading Mongols and pitting Christianity against Islam. The center of Rus', as this short-lived kingdom came to be called, was Kyiv (Russian spelling: Kiev), and Russians have claimed it as the beginning place of their civilization.

Plokhy's history begins 500 years later, in 1472, during the reign of Ivan III. At this time, Moscow was first becoming established and calling itself the Third Rome, the center of Christianity after the fall of Constantinople to Muslim armies. At this moment, Plokhy argues, the Russian monarchy went looking for an origin story and reached back to the history of Volodymyr. It portrayed itself as the inheritor of the lost kingdom of Rus'. Thus Ivan III declared himself the ruler of "all Rus'"--a collection of lands as imaginary as it was real, and always contested.

This story legitimized Ivan's claim that Moscow was the true Orthodox center of the world. By then, Kyiv was under the rule of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a Catholic monarchy. Many of Kyiv's Christians were Uniate--Catholics who used the Byzantine rite. They obviously could not be the carriers of a true Orthodoxy. Only Moscow could inherit the title.

Plokhy marks this era as the beginning of the Russian nation, which has forever confused itself with ancient Rus'. This confusion has not only created a claim to Ukrainian lands and people that Russia asserts to this day, it has also served as the origin story for the Russian nation. With this origin story, we can understand distinctive elements of the Russian nation: its belief in the importance of the unity of church and state, for example, and its territorial hunger to reconfigure what it imagines to be the unified Rus'.

Carleton, who teaches at Tufts, gives the story a different spin. He is interested in how Russian politicians, writers, and historians have created a mythology of a victimized Russia which is always in need of defense. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

How Russia Was Made
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.