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3. History of Civilization (3.21-3.21.8)

3.21    Russ, Russia and the Russian Empire

The vast lands of present Russia were home to many disunited and conflicting tribes, which eventually became united by Scandinavians, the Varangians (Vikings), who established a capital at the Slavic city of Novgorod. The Varangians, also called “Russ”, kept ruling the regions for several centuries.

3.21.1    Kievan Rus

A Russ named “Rurik” had established himself as ruler of Novgorod, in around year 860, just before he moved south and extended his territory to include Kiev, were he settled and established order. Rurik who died year 879 was succeeded by his brother-in-law, Oleg, who led a series of attacks against the Byzantine Empire, with commercial treaty with the Empire, signed year 911, as result. During the 10th and 11th century trade routes was created thru the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and all the way to the Orient. Kiev, known as “Kievan Rus”, became the largest state in Europe due to its trade hub between Europe and Asia.

3.21.2    Creation of the Russian Orthodox Church

Due to the collaboration with the Byzantine Empire, Kievan ruler Vladimir I, brought Christianity home to Kiev and made it the state religion as well as initiated the Russian Orthodox Church the year 988. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 made the Rus state the only more or less functional Christian state and the successor to the legacy of the Eastern Roman Empire.

3.21.3    Vladimir-Suzdal & Moscow

In the mid to late 12th century the principality of Vladimir-Suzdal gained power and eventually succeeded Kievan Rus. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Prince of Halychyna and Grand prince of Vladimir and Tver appointed Metropolitan Peter in Russia 1308. After this meeting Peter became close allied with the Muscovite princes which strengthen his own position and of the House of Moscow. He founded, in Moscow, the Cathedral of the Dormition in 1326 and moved the metropolitan duties there from Vladimir. One year later Moscow became capitol of Vladimir-Suzdal principality and later of all Rus. It was Ivan II, known as “Ivan the Great” or “the grand duke of all the Russias”, who gathered the Russian lands under Moscow, which he called “the Third Rome”.

3.21.4    United Russia

In 1547, the sixteen year old, Ivan IV, later known as “Ivan the Terrible”, was crowned Tsar. He was the first ruler who used the term “Tsar”, which derives from Caesar of Rome (Czar). He completed the unifying process by the consolidation of Moscow surroundings and by including the vast regions of Siberia. The United Russia was born. He tried to expand Russia to the West, but only to find himself in conflicts with the Swedes, Lithuanians, Poles, and the Livonian Teutonic Knights, which with the latter became a twenty-two year long war. Ivan IV accidentally murdered his own son which was the reason to his nickname “the terrible”. Ivan himself seems to have been poisoned to death, according to examinations of his body done in the 1960’s.

3.21.5    Birth of the Russian Empire

The ideas of expanding westwards emerged with Peter I, known as “Peter the Great”. Peter was crown as the last Tsar, year 1696, at the age of 24 after a rough youth were many friends and relatives had been killed in front of his eyes. After some bad attempts to conquer westwards, he instead he attacked Crimea which was held by the Ottoman Empire. His attack failed and instead, year 1698, he did choose to take a tour to Europe, searching for allies to handle the Ottomans. But the European Monarchs wasn’t interested, but Peter instead learned much about western culture, shipbuilding and artillery. Same year he sent a delegation to Malta to observe the training and abilities of the Knights of Malta and their fleet, which resulted in some action against the Ottomans and a peace treaty.

However, Peter now focused on the Baltic’s and declared war against Sweden which was led by the sixteen-year old King Charles XII. The so called “Great Northern War” had begun. Peter’s first attacks against the well-trained Swedes became disasters. However by time his forces became skilled and as the Swedes also fought against many others in the Baltic’s, there was time to recover.

As the Poles and Swedes fought each other, Peter in 1703, managed to capture the town “Nyen” in Ingria, south of Carelia, from the Swedes. He changed the name to “Saint Petersburg” and engaged the Freemasons to build the new Russian capitol there, as a "window to Europe". The Great Northern War ended as a success for Peter in 1721 with the “Treaty of Nystad”, which made him replace his title “Tsar” with "Emperor”.

The Russian Empire was born.

3.21.6    Peter the great - the Antichrist?

Peter’s thoughts of making his son his successor became a nightmare since his son had turned against him and was active in antireform groups of reactionary boyars and priests, who encouraged him to hate his father and wish for the death of the tsar-antichrist. With the help from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI, Alexei fled to Italy from were he wrote to Peter asking for permission to become a monk. Peter sent Count Pyotr Tolstoy to find and bring Alexei back.

On the 31st of January 1718 Alexei was back to meet his Father who saw a self-convicted and most dangerous traitor, whose life was forfeit. Peter consulted the Grand Council of prelates, senators, ministers and other dignitaries, whose “clergy” left him to his own decision. On June 26th after months of interrogation and torture he was condemned to death, by the senate, for conspiring rebellion against his father. Peter immediately changed the rules of succession to the throne after he had his son killed in the Petropavlovskaya fortress.


Painting of Peter interrogating his son

The painting, now exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery, of Peter interrogating his son at Peterhof, by Nikolai Ge in 1871, includes a lot of Masonic symbolism which display Peter and his son’s views (papers) on how to rule the country as well as the Freemason part symbolized with the papers laying on the checkered floor. Peter died in 1722, possible murdered by poisoning, wasn’t able to choose his successor, which led to 70 years of chaos and conflicts until Catharine II claimed the throne from Peter III after he was assassinated.

3.21.7    Russian Enlightenment

Catherine II, also called “Catherine the Great” and “Catherine the Enlightened” continued Peter the Greats plan of "Westernization" that by time transformed the Russian Empire into a major European power. Catherine becomes known as a mediator in European conflicts. Inside the Commonwealth movement, she saw a threat building up against European monarchies and after the French Revolution, Catherine rejected many of the principles of the Enlightenment.

Socialism grew and the regime begun to use journals and newspapers to gain support for its domestic and foreign policies. However, liberal, nationalist, and radical writers made sure the result was reversed. Catherine II was succeeded by her son Paul I after she suffered from stroke and died 1796. The succession was against Catherine’s own will, as she disliked her son for being influenced those she didn’t like. Paul was assassinated in his bedroom at St Michael’s Castle, the 23rd of March, 1801 by possible members of the “Order of St. John”, also known as “The Knights Hospitallier”, whom he had supper with the same evening. He was succeeded by his own son who was in the castle and most likely involved in the assassination. As an autocrat, Jacobin and sympathizer of the principles of Rousseau's gospel of humanity, Alexander I, was indeed a mysterious person, raised by the free-thinking atmosphere initiated by Catherine the Great.

In June 1807, Alexander became ally with Napoleon whom divided Europe between the two powers. This alliance, however, was broken when Napoleon invaded Russia in year 1811 and entered the empty streets of Moscow. Alexander managed to burn down Moscow and drain all food and energy resources and within a month Napoleon was retreating. Russian attacks and the hard winter killed 94% of the 650.000 French retreating troops. The French retreat thru Europe resulted in a series of wars called the “Napoleonic Wars” which eventually led to the battle of Waterloo, June 18th 1815, were Napoleon was defeated. A century without major military conflicts followed.

3.21.8    Raise of Marxist socialism

The end of the 19th century was filled with political conflicts. Socialism became more powerful than even before. The politically talented Ul'yanov argued for Marxist socialism and during his exile to Siberia, 1895 – 1899, he took the name Lenin from the mighty Siberian Lena River. Within the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, Lenin became the master tactician. Parallel to the internal conflicts, Russian Empire became involved in the “Great War”, which increased the internal conflicts and peaked with the Russian revolution 1917. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) also called the “Soviet Union” was born and Lenin was its father.



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