I.i. Russian History Portal

Russian history is, perhaps, one of the most interesting fields of historical study today. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century academia, unlike its contemporary counterpart, largely held Russian history before the eighteenth century in either disregard or outright contempt; traditional portrayals of both the Russian principalities and the Tsardom of Russia characterized the former as irrelevant medieval backwaters, and the latter as an "Oriental" and "despotic" state lacking in personal freedom, economic innovation, and the "comforts" of Western Europe which are supposedly indicitave of a given society's "progress". Of course, these one-dimensional portrayals are, frankly, caricatures which fail to highlight the unique parts of Russian society, and, are examples of the academic laziness that is, thankfully, much less prevalent in contemporary publications.

Unfortunately, though, popular portrayals of Russian history, especially by journalists and other writers who have not studied Russian history, are populated with myths and misconceptions that have been discounted for years in more reliable sources. Ivan IV, for example, holds the brunt of this criticism, being portrayed as a "tyrant", "strongman", and "despot", and Western sources have not ceased to berate the Russian government for rehabilitating Russia's "terrible" Tsar, and, of course, have simply dismissed the movement as similar to an attempt to "rehabilitate Stalin". (Ironically, any current efforts to rehabilitate Stalin taken by the current Russian government are much less extensive than Stalin's effort to rehabilitate Ivan IV.)

This page, naturally, will attempt to present a more realistic picture of Russian history, especially before the Petrine era. This does not mean that the material here is plainly "unbaised" or does not include the dreaded "value judgements" decried by contemporary historians. I have, however, at least attempted to form a view on Russian society based on historical precedent, rather than misconceptions or blatant falsehoods. There are plenty of resources where one may find the "liberal" views on Russian history, and I will not attempt to catalogue all of them here, but at least some of them will be included for posterity.

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