History of the Russian Empire, 1613-1917

Ilya Repin, Ceremonial Sitting of the State Council on 7 May 1901 Marking the Centenary of its Foundation (1903)

This 300-level course examines the history of the Russian empire, beginning with the emergence of the Romanov dynasty in 1613 and progressing through its formal foundation by Peter the Great in 1721, its expansion over the 18th and 19th centuries, and its collapse in 1917. In particular, it looks at the social dynamics of autocracy; the tensions between centre and periphery and between Russians and non-Russians in a large multi-ethnic and multi-confessional empire; and cycles of repression and reform. Although the course ends in 1917, it does not take a teleological approach toward the Russian revolution(s) and the emergence of the Soviet Union. Rather, it asks: what held the Russian empire together? What caused it to unravel in the early 20th century? What are its legacies for the Soviet Union, the successor states, and contemporary Russia?

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