An Economic History of Russia - Vol. 1

By James Mavor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
FOURTH PERIOD OF RUSSIAN HISTORY--FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE SEVENTEENTH TILL THE MIDDLE OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

PART I
GENERAL ACCOUNT, AND ESPECIALLY FROM 1613 TILL 1700

THE Fourth Period of Russian history began with the accession of the Romanov dynasty to the Moscow throne in 1613, at the close of the age of anarchy, and ended with the death of Nicholas I in 1855. The salient facts of this period are the expansion of the Moscow State over the whole of the Russian plain, and the absorption of numerous Russian and non-Russian nationalities. Gradually the State extended itself southwards, eastwards, and northwards, swallowing up great areas fully occupied or partially occupied, and absorbing into its administrative system, founded as it was upon a bureaucratic autocracy, numerous previously independent political units.

Ambitious as they were, the groups of people surrounding the throne of the early Romanovs cannot be said to have possessed talents adequate to the performance of so formidable a task.1 The centralization of power in the hands of the Moscow State destroyed the independence, or diminished the local self-government, of the outlying provinces, and at the same time it increased their burdens. The new central administration was costly and inefficient. From the beginning fate seemed to be against the House of Romanov.

All the Romanov Tsars of the direct line were mere boys on their accession.2 With the exception of Peter, who was a giant of nearly seven feet, and who was possessed of enormous muscular strength, although he inherited an abnormal nervous

____________________
1
Cf. Kluchevsky, op. cit., iii. pp. 88-9.
2
The following were the ages of the male Romanovs on their accession: Mikhail, 16 1/2 years; Alexis, 16 years; Feodor, 15 years; Ivan V, 16 years; Peter I (the Great), 10 years; Peter II, 11 years; Ivan VI, 2 months.

-72-

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