Peter modernizes Russia

Peter modernizes Russia

1721 Jan 2
, Moscow

Peter implemented sweeping reforms aimed at modernizing Russia. Heavily influenced by his advisors from Western Europe, Peter reorganized the Russian army along modern lines and dreamed of making Russia a maritime power. Peter implemented social modernization in an absolute manner by introducing French and western dress to his court and requiring courtiers, state officials, and the military to shave their beards and adopt modern clothing styles. In his process to westernize Russia, he wanted members of his family to marry other European royalty. As part of his reforms, Peter started an industrialization effort that was slow but eventually successful. Russian manufacturing and main exports were based on the mining and lumber industries. To improve his nation's position on the seas, Peter sought to gain more maritime outlets. His only outlet at the time was the White Sea at Arkhangelsk. The Baltic Sea was at the time controlled by Sweden in the north, while the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea were controlled by the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Empire respectively in the south.

Fleet of Peter the Great (1909) by Eugene Lanceray

Russo-Persian War (1722–1723)

1722 Jun 18
, Caucasus

The Russo-Persian War of 1722–1723, known in Russian historiography as the Persian campaign of Peter the Great, was a war between the Russian Empire and Safavid Iran, triggered by the tsar's attempt to expand Russian influence in the Caspian and Caucasus regions and to prevent its rival, the Ottoman Empire, from territorial gains in the region at the expense of declining Safavid Iran.

Before the war, the nominal Russian border was the Terek River. South of that, the Khanates of Dagestan were nominal vassals of Iran. The ultimate cause of the war was Russia's desire to expand to the southeast and the temporary weakness of Iran. The Russian victory ratified for Safavid Iran's cession of their territories in the North Caucasus, South Caucasus and contemporary northern Iran to Russia, comprising the cities of Derbent (southern Dagestan) and Baku and their nearby surrounding lands, as well as the provinces of Gilan, Shirvan, Mazandaran and Astarabad conform the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1723).

Vitus Bering's expedition being wrecked on the Aleutian Islands in 1741.

First Kamchatka expedition

1724 Jan 1
, Bering Strait

The First Kamchatka expedition was the first Russian expedition to explore the Asian Pacific coast. It was commissioned by Peter the Great in 1724 and was led by Vitus Bering. Afield from 1725 to 1731, it was Russia’s first naval scientific expedition. It confirmed the presence of a strait (now known as Bering Strait) between Asia and America and was followed in 1732 by the Second Kamchatka Expedition.
Anna of Russia

Empress Anna

1725 Feb 8
, Moscow

Peter died in 1725, leaving an unsettled succession. After a short reign of his widow Catherine I, the crown passed to empress Anna. She slowed down the reforms and led a successful war against the Ottoman Empire. This resulted in a significant weakening of the Crimean Khanate, an Ottoman vassal and long-term Russian adversary.


Treaty of Kyakhta

1727 Jan 1
, Kyakhta

The Treaty of Kyakhta (or Kiakhta), along with the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689), regulated the relations between Imperial Russia and the Qing Empire of China until the mid-19th century. It was signed by Tulišen and Count Sava Lukich Raguzinskii-Vladislavich at the border city of Kyakhta on 23 August 1727.

Russo-Turkish War

Russo-Turkish War

1735 Oct 3
, Balkans

The casus belli were the raids of the Crimean Tatars on Cossack Hetmanate (Ukraine) in the end of 1735 and the Crimean khan's military campaign in the Caucasus.The war also represented Russia's continuing struggle for access to the Black Sea. In July 1737, Austria entered the war against the Ottoman Empire, but was defeated a number of times, amongst others in the Battle of Banja Luka on 4 August 1737, Battle of Grocka at 18, 21–22 July 1739, and then lost Belgrade after an Ottoman siege from 18 July to September 1739. With the imminent threat of a Swedish invasion, and Ottoman alliances with Prussia, Poland and Sweden, forced Russia to sign the Treaty of Niš with Turkey on 29 September, which ended the war. The peace treaty granted Azov to Russia and consolidated Russia's control over the Zaporizhia. For Austria, the war proved a stunning defeat. The Russian forces were much more successful on the field, but they lost tens of thousands to disease. The loss and desertion figures for the Ottomans are impossible to estimate.

Russo-Swedish War (1741–1743)

Russo-Swedish War (1741–1743)

1741 Aug 8
, Finland

The Russo-Swedish War of 1741–1743 was instigated by the Hats, a Swedish political party that aspired to regain the territories lost to Russia during the Great Northern War, and by French diplomacy, which sought to divert Russia's attention from supporting its long-standing ally the Habsburg monarchy in the War of the Austrian Succession. The war was a disaster for Sweden, which lost more territory to Russia.
Battle of Zorndorf

Seven Years' War

1756 May 17
, Europe

The Russian Empire was originally aligned with Austria, fearing Prussia's ambition on the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, but switched sides upon the succession of Tsar Peter III in 1762. The Russians and the Austrians were determined to reduce the power of Prussia, the new threat on their doorstep, and Austria was anxious to regain Silesia, lost to Prussia in the War of the Austrian Succession. Along with France, Russia and Austria agreed in 1756 to mutual defence and an attack by Austria and Russia on Prussia, subsidized by France. The Russians defeated the Prussians several times in the war, but the Russians lacked the necessary logistical capability to follow up their victories with lasting gains, and in this sense, the salvation of the House of Hohenzollern was due more to Russian weakness with respect to logistics than to Prussian strength on the battlefield. The supply system that allowed the Russians to advance into the Balkans during the war with the Ottomans in 1787–92, Marshal Alexander Suvorov to campaign effectively in Italy and Switzerland in 1798–99, and for the Russians to fight across Germany and France in 1813–14 to take Paris was created directly in response to the logistic problems experienced by the Russians in the Seven Years' War. The taxation needed for war caused the Russian people considerable hardship, being added to the taxation of salt and alcohol begun by Empress Elizabeth in 1759 to complete her addition to the Winter Palace. Like Sweden, Russia concluded a separate peace with Prussia.

Coronation portrait of Peter III of Russia -1761

Peter III of Russia

1762 Jan 5
, Kiel

After Peter succeeded to the Russian throne, he withdrew Russian forces from the Seven Years' War and concluded a peace treaty with Prussia. He gave up Russian conquests in Prussia and offered 12,000 troops to make an alliance with Frederick II of Prussia. Russia thus switched from an enemy of Prussia to an ally—Russian troops withdrew from Berlin and marched against the Austrians. The German-born Peter could hardly speak Russian and pursued a strongly pro-Prussian policy, which made him an unpopular leader. He was deposed by troops loyal to his wife, Catherine, the former Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst who, despite her own German origins, was a Russian nationalist. She succeeded him as Empress Catherine II. Peter died in captivity soon after his overthrow, perhaps with Catherine's approval as part of the coup conspiracy.

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great

1762 Jul 9
, Szczecin

Catherine II (born Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst; 2 May 1729 in Stettin – 17 November 1796 in Saint Petersburg), most commonly known as Catherine the Great, was empress regnant of All Russia from 1762 until 1796 – the country's longest-ruling female leader. She came to power following a coup d'état that overthrew her husband and second cousin, Peter III. Under her reign, Russia grew larger, its culture was revitalised, and it was recognised as one of the great powers of Europe. Catherine reformed the administration of Russian guberniyas (governorates), and many new cities and towns were founded on her orders. An admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernise Russia along Western European lines. The period of Catherine the Great's rule, the Catherinian Era, is considered a Golden Age of Russia. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical style endorsed by the empress, changed the face of the country. She enthusiastically supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and is often included in the ranks of the enlightened despots.

The destruction of the Turkish fleet in the Battle of Chesme, 1770

Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774)

1768 Jan 1
, Mediterranean Sea

The Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 was a major armed conflict that saw Russian arms largely victorious against the Ottoman Empire. Russia's victory brought Kabardia, part of Moldavia, the Yedisan between the rivers Bug and Dnieper, and Crimea into the Russian sphere of influence. Though a series of victories accrued by the Russian Empire led to substantial territorial conquests, including direct conquest over much of the Pontic–Caspian steppe, less Ottoman territory was directly annexed than might otherwise be expected due to a complex struggle within the European diplomatic system to maintain a balance of power that was acceptable to other European states and avoided direct Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe. Nonetheless, Russia was able to take advantage of the weakened Ottoman Empire, the end of the Seven Years' War, and the withdrawal of France from Polish affairs to assert itself as one of the continent's primary military powers. The war left the Russian Empire in a strengthened position to expand its territory and maintain hegemony over the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, eventually leading to the First Partition of Poland.

Colonization of Novorossiya

Colonization of Novorossiya

1783 Jan 1
, Novorossiya

Potemkin's Black Sea Fleet was a massive undertaking for its time. By 1787, the British ambassador reported twenty-seven ships of the line. It put Russia on a naval footing with Spain, though far behind the Royal Navy. The period represented the peak of Russia's naval power relative to other European states. Potemkin also rewarded hundreds of thousands of settlers who moved into his territories. It is estimated that by 1782 the populations of Novorossiya and Azov had doubled during a period of "exceptionally rapid" development. Immigrants included Russians, foreigners, Cossacks and controversially Jews. Though the immigrants were not always happy in their new surroundings, on at least one occasion Potemkin intervened directly to ensure families received the cattle to which they were entitled. Outside of Novorossiya he drew up the Azov-Mozdok defense line, constructing forts at Georgievsk, Stavropol and elsewhere and ensured that the whole of the line was settled.
Crimean Khanate annexed

Crimean Khanate annexed

1783 Apr 19
, Crimea

In March 1783, Prince Potemkin made a rhetorical push to encourage Empress Catherine to annex Crimea. Having just returned from Crimea, he told her that many Crimeans would "happily" submit to Russian rule. Encouraged by this news, Empress Catherine issued a formal proclamation of annexation on 19 April 1783. Tatars did not resist the annexation. After years of turmoil, the Crimeans lacked the resources and the will to continue fighting. Many fled the peninsula, leaving for Anatolia. Crimea was incorporated into the Empire as the Taurida Oblast. Later that Year, the Ottoman Empire signed an agreement with Russia that recognised the loss of Crimea and other territories that had been held by the Khanate.
Victory of Ochakiv, 1788 December 17

Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792)

1787 Aug 19
, Jassy

The Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792 involved an unsuccessful attempt by the Ottoman Empire to regain lands lost to the Russian Empire in the course of the previous Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774). It took place concomitantly with the Austro-Turkish War (1788–1791) In 1787, the Ottomans demanded that the Russians evacuate the Crimea and give up their holdings near the Black Sea, which Russia saw as a casus belli. Russia declared war on 19 August 1787, and the Ottomans imprisoned the Russian ambassador, Yakov Bulgakov. Ottoman preparations were inadequate and the moment was ill-chosen, as Russia and Austria were now in alliance. Accordingly, the Treaty of Jassy was signed on 9 January 1792, recognizing Russia's 1783 annexation of the Crimean Khanate. Yedisan (Odessa and Ochakov) was also ceded to Russia, and the Dniester was made the Russian frontier in Europe, while the Russian Asiatic frontier—the Kuban River—remained unchanged.
Swedish warships fitted out in Stockholm in 1788; watercolor by Louis Jean Desprez

Russo-Swedish War (1788–1790)

1788 Jun 1
, Baltic Sea

The Russo-Swedish War of 1788–1790 was fought between Sweden and Russia from June 1788 to August 1790. The war was ended by the Treaty of Värälä on 14 August 1790. The war was, overall, mostly insignificant for the parties involved. The conflict was initiated by King Gustav III of Sweden for domestic political reasons, as he believed that a short war would leave the opposition with no recourse but to support him. Catherine II regarded the war against her Swedish cousin as a substantial distraction, as her land troops were tied up in the war against Turkey, and she was likewise concerned with revolutionary events unfolding in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (the 3 May Constitution) and in France (the French Revolution). The Swedish attack foiled the Russian plans of sending its navy into the Mediterranean to support its forces fighting the Ottomans, as it was needed to protect the capital, Saint Petersburg.

After the Battle of Zieleńce, by Wojciech Kossak

Polish–Russian War of 1792

1792 May 18
, Poland

The Polish–Russian War of 1792 was fought between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth on one side, and the Targowica Confederation and the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great on the other. The war took place in two theaters: northern in Lithuania and southern in what is now Ukraine. In both, the Polish forces retreated before the numerically superior Russian forces, though they offered significantly more resistance in the south, thanks to the effective leadership of Polish commanders Prince Józef Poniatowski and Tadeusz Kościuszko. During the three-month-long struggle several battles were fought, but no side scored a decisive victory. Russia took 250,000 square kilometres (97,000 sq mi), while Prussia took 58,000 square kilometres (22,000 sq mi) of the Commonwealth's territory. This event reduced Poland's population to only one-third of what it was before the First Partition.

Tadeusz Kościuszko taking the oath, 24th March 1794

Kościuszko Uprising

1794 Mar 24
, Krakow

The Kościuszko Uprising, also known as the Polish Uprising of 1794 and the Second Polish War, was an uprising against the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia led by Tadeusz Kościuszko in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Prussian partition in 1794. It was a failed attempt to liberate the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from Russian influence after the Second Partition of Poland (1793) and the creation of the Targowica Confederation. The uprising ended with the Russian occupation of Warsaw.

ortrait of Alexander I, Emperor of Russia

Alexander becomes emperor

1801 Sep 15
, Moscow

On 16 November 1796, Catherine rose early in the morning and had her usual morning coffee, soon settling down to work on papers; she told her lady's maid, Maria Perekusikhina, that she had slept better than she had in a long time. Sometime after 9:00 she was found on the floor with her face purplish, her pulse weak, her breathing shallow and laboured. She died the following evening around 9:45pm. Catherine's son Paul succeeded to the throne. He reigned until 1801 when he was assassinated. Alexander I succeeded to the throne on 23 March 1801 and was crowned in the Kremlin on 15 September of that Year.

La bataille d'Austerlitz. 2 decembre 1805 (François Gérard)

War of the Third Coalition

1803 May 18
, Austerlitz

The War of the Third Coalition was a European conflict spanning the years 1803 to 1806. During the war, France and its client states under Napoleon I, defeated an alliance, the Third Coalition, made up of the United Kingdom, the Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, Naples, Sicily and Sweden. Prussia remained neutral during the war. In what is widely regarded as the greatest victory achieved by Napoleon, the Grande Armée of France defeated a larger Russian and Austrian army led by Emperor Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II at the Battle of Austerlitz.

After the Battle of Athos. June 19, 1807.

Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812)

1806 Dec 22
, Moldavia

The war broke out in 1805–1806 against the background of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1806, Sultan Selim III, encouraged by the Russian defeat at Austerlitz and advised by the French Empire, deposed the pro-Russian Constantine Ypsilantis as Hospodar of the Principality of Wallachia and Alexander Mourousis as Hospodar of Moldavia, both Ottoman vassal states. Simultaneously, the French Empire occupied Dalmatia and threatened to penetrate the Danubian principalities at any time. In order to safeguard the Russian border against a possible French attack, a 40,000-strong Russian contingent advanced into Moldavia and Wallachia. The Sultan reacted by blocking the Dardanelles to Russian ships and declared war on Russia. According to the Treaty, the Ottoman Empire ceded the eastern half of Moldavia to Russia (which renamed the territory as Bessarabia), although it had committed to protecting that region. Russia became a new power in the lower Danube area, and had an economically, diplomatically, and militarily profitable frontier. The treaty was approved by Alexander I of Russia on June 11, some 13 days before Napoleon's invasion of Russia began. The commanders were able to get many of the Russian soldiers in the Balkans back to the western areas before the expected attack of Napoleon.
Napoleon at the en:Battle of Friedland

Battle of Friedland

1807 Jun 14
, Friedland

The Battle of Friedland (June 14, 1807) was a major engagement of the Napoleonic Wars between the armies of the French Empire commanded by Napoleon I and the armies of the Russian Empire led by Count von Bennigsen. Napoleon and the French obtained a decisive victory that routed much of the Russian army, which retreated chaotically over the Alle River by the end of the fighting. The battlefield is located in modern-day Kaliningrad Oblast, near the town of Pravdinsk, Russia. On June 19, Emperor Alexander sent an envoy to seek an armistice with the French. Napoleon assured the envoy that the Vistula River represented the natural borders between French and Russian influence in Europe. On that basis, the two emperors began peace negotiations at the town of Tilsit after meeting on an iconic raft on the River Niemen.
Second to last battle of the war at Ratan near Umeå in Swedish Västerbotten

Finnish War

1808 Feb 21
, Finland

The Finnish War was fought between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Russian Empire from 21 February 1808 to 17 September 1809. As a result of the war, the eastern third of Sweden was established as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire. Other notable effects were the Swedish parliament's adoption of a new constitution and the establishment of the House of Bernadotte, the new Swedish royal house, in 1818.
Kalmyks and Bashkirs attacking French troops at the Berezina

French invasion of Russia

1812 Jun 24
, Borodino

The French invasion of Russia was begun by Napoleon to force Russia back into the Continental blockade of the United Kingdom. On 24 June 1812 and the following days, the first wave of the Grande Armée crossed the border into Russia with around 400,000–450,000 soldiers, the opposing Russian field forces amounted to around 180,000–200,000 at this time. Through a series of long forced marches, Napoleon pushed his army rapidly through Western Russia in a futile attempt to destroy the retreating Russian Army of Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, winning just the Battle of Smolensk in August.

Under its new Commander in Chief Mikhail Kutuzov, the Russian Army continued to retreat employing attrition warfare against Napoleon forcing the invaders to rely on a supply system that was incapable of feeding their large army in the field. On 14 September, Napoleon and his army of about 100,000 men occupied Moscow, only to find it abandoned, and the city was soon ablaze. Out of an original force of 615,000, only 110,000 frostbitten and half-starved survivors stumbled back into France.

The Russian victory over the French Army in 1812 was a significant blow to Napoleon's ambitions of European dominance. This war was the reason the other coalition allies triumphed once and for all over Napoleon. His army was shattered and morale was low, both for French troops still in Russia, fighting battles just before the campaign ended, and for the troops on other fronts.

A Scene from the en:Caucasian War

Caucasian War

1817 Jan 1
, Georgia

The Caucasian War of 1817–1864 was an invasion of the Caucasus by the Russian Empire which resulted in Russia's annexation of the areas of the North Caucasus, and the ethnic cleansing of Circassians. It consisted of a series of military actions waged by the Empire against the native peoples of the Caucasus including the Chechens, Adyghe, Abkhaz–Abaza, Ubykhs, Kumyks and Dagestanians as Russia sought to expand. Among the Muslims, resistance to the Russians was described as jihad. Russian control of the Georgian Military Highway in the center divided the Caucasian War into the Russo-Circassian War in the west and the Murid War in the east. Other territories of the Caucasus (comprising contemporary eastern Georgia, southern Dagestan, Armenia and Azerbaijan) were incorporated into the Russian Empire at various times in the 19th century as a result of Russian wars with Persia. The remaining part, western Georgia, was taken by the Russians from the Ottomans during the same period.

Decembrist Revolt, a painting by Vasily Timm

Decembrist Revolt

1825 Dec 24
, Saint Petersburg

The Decembrist Revolt took place in Russia on 26 December 1825, during the interregnum following the sudden death of Emperor Alexander I. Alexander's heir apparent, Konstantin, had privately declined the succession, unknown to the court, and his younger brother Nicholas decided to take power as Emperor Nicholas I, pending formal confirmation. While some of the army had sworn loyalty to Nicholas, a force of about 3,000 troops tried to mount a military coup in favour of Konstantin. The rebels, although weakened by dissension between their leaders, confronted the loyalists outside the Senate building in the presence of a large crowd. In the confusion, the Emperor's envoy, Mikhail Miloradovich, was assassinated. Eventually, the loyalists opened fire with heavy artillery, which scattered the rebels. Many were sentenced to hanging, prison, or exile to Siberia. The conspirators became known as the Decembrists.

Persian defeat at Elisavetpole

Russo-Persian War (1826–1828)

1826 Jul 19
, Armenia

The Russo-Persian War of 1826–1828 was the last major military conflict between the Russian Empire and Persia. After the Treaty of Gulistan that concluded the previous Russo-Persian War in 1813, peace reigned in the Caucasus for thirteen years. However, Fath 'Ali Shah, constantly in need of foreign subsidies, relied on the advice of British agents, who advised him to reconquer the territories lost to Russian Empire and pledged their support for military action. The matter was decided upon in spring 1826, when a bellicose party of Abbas Mirza prevailed in Tehran and the Russian minister, Aleksandr Sergeyevich Menshikov, was placed under house arrest. The war ended in 1828 following the occupation of Tabriz. The war had even more disastrous results for Persia than the 1804-1813 war, as the ensuing Treaty of Turkmenchay stripped Persia of its last remaining territories in the Caucasus, which comprised all of modern Armenia, the southern remainder of modern Azerbaijan, and modern Igdir in Turkey. The war marked the end of the era of the Russo-Persian Wars, with Russia now the unquestioned dominant power in the Caucasus.

Siege of Akhaltsikhe 1828, by January Suchodolski

Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829)

1828 Apr 26
, Akhaltsikhe

The Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829 was sparked by the Greek War of Independence of 1821–1829. War broke out after the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II closed the Dardanelles to Russian ships and revoked the 1826 Akkerman Convention in retaliation for Russian participation in October 1827 in the Battle of Navarino. The Russians laid prolonged sieges to three key Ottoman citadels in modern Bulgaria: Shumla, Varna, and Silistra. With the support of the Black Sea Fleet under Aleksey Greig, Varna was captured on 29 September. The siege of Shumla proved much more problematic, as the 40,000-strong Ottoman garrison outnumbered the Russian forces. Faced with several defeats, the Sultan decided to sue for peace. The Treaty of Adrianople signed on 14 September 1829 gave Russia most of the eastern shore of the Black Sea and the mouth of the Danube. Turkey recognized Russian sovereignty over parts of northwest present-day Armenia. Serbia achieved autonomy and Russia was allowed to occupy Moldavia and Wallachia.

Political cartoon depicting the Afghan Emir Sher Ali with his "friends" the Russian Bear and British Lion (1878)

Great Game

1830 Jan 12
, Afghanistan

"The Great Game" was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century between the British Empire and the Russian Empire, over Afghanistan, Tibetan Kingdom, and neighbouring territories in Central and South Asia. It also had direct consequences in Persia and British India. Britain was fearful of Russia invading India to add to the vast empire that Russia was building. As a result, there was a deep atmosphere of distrust and the talk of war between the two major European empires. Britain made it a high priority to protect all the approaches to India, and the "great game" is primarily how the British did this. Some historians have concluded that Russia had no plans involving India, as the Russians repeatedly stated to the British. The Great Game began on 12 January 1830 when Lord Ellenborough, the President of the Board of Control for India, tasked Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General, with establishing a new trade route to the Emirate of Bukhara. Britain intended to gain control over the Emirate of Afghanistan and make it a protectorate, and to use the Ottoman Empire, the Persian Empire, the Khanate of Khiva, and the Emirate of Bukhara as buffer states between both empires.

British cavalry charging against Russian forces at Balaclava

Crimean War

1853 Oct 16
, Crimean Peninsula

The Crimean War was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russia lost to an alliance made up of France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom and Sardinia. The immediate cause of the war involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Longer-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at the Ottoman Empire's expense.

A 1907 painting by Boris Kustodiev depicting Russian serfs listening to the proclamation of the Emancipation Manifesto in 1861

Emancipation reform of 1861

1861 Jan 1
, Russia

The Emancipation Reform of 1861 in Russia was the first and most important of the liberal reforms passed during the reign (1855–1881) of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. The reform effectively abolished serfdom throughout the Russian Empire.
Russian Forces Crossing the Amu Darya River, Khiva Campaign, 1873, Nikolay Karazin, 1889.

Russian conquest of Central Asia

1864 Jan 1
, Central Asia

The Russian conquest of Central Asia took place in the second half of the nineteenth century. The land that became Russian Turkestan and later Soviet Central Asia is now divided between Kazakhstan in the north, Uzbekistan across the center, Kyrgyzstan in the east, Tajikistan in the southeast and Turkmenistan in the southwest. The area was called Turkestan because most of its inhabitants spoke Turkic languages with the exception of Tajikistan, which speaks an Iranian language.

The signing of the Alaska Treaty of Cessation on March 30, 1867.

Alaska Purchase

1867 Oct 18
, Alaska

The Alaska Purchase was the United States' acquisition of Alaska from the Russian Empire. Alaska was formally transferred to the United States on October 18, 1867, through a treaty ratified by the United States Senate. Russia had established a presence in North America during the first half of the 18th century, but few Russians ever settled in Alaska. In the aftermath of the Crimean War, Russian Tsar Alexander II began exploring the possibility of selling Alaska, which would be difficult to defend in any future war from being conquered by Russia's arch rival, the United Kingdom. Following the end of the American Civil War, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward entered into negotiations with Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl for the purchase of Alaska. Seward and Stoeckl agreed to a treaty on March 30, 1867, and the treaty was ratified by the United States Senate by a wide margin. The purchase added 586,412 square miles (1,518,800 km2) of new territory to the United States for the cost of $7.2 million 1867 dollars. In modern terms, the cost was equivalent to $133 million in 2020 dollars or $0.37 per acre.

The defeat of Shipka Peak, Bulgarian War of Independence

Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)

1877 Apr 24
, Balkans

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 was a conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox coalition led by the Russian Empire and composed of Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro. Fought in the Balkans and in the Caucasus, it originated in emerging 19th century Balkan nationalism. Additional factors included Russian goals of recovering territorial losses endured during the Crimean War , re-establishing itself in the Black Sea and supporting the political movement attempting to free Balkan nations from the Ottoman Empire.

The explosion killed one of the Cossacks and wounded the driver.

Assassination of Alexander II of Russia

1881 Mar 13
, Catherine Canal

The assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia “the Liberator” took place on 13 March, 1881 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Alexander II was killed while returning to the Winter Palace from Mikhailovsky Manège in a closed carriage. Alexander II had previously survived several attempts on his life, including the attempts by Dmitry Karakozov and Alexander Soloviev, the attempt to dynamite the imperial train in Zaporizhzhia, and the bombing of the Winter Palace in February 1880. The assassination is popularly considered to be the most successful action by the Russian nihilist movement of the 19th century.
Industrialization in the Russian Empire

Industrialization in the Russian Empire

1893 Jan 1
, Russia

Industrialization in the Russian Empire saw the development of an industrial economy, whereby labor productivity increased and the demand for industrial goods was partially provided from within the empire. Industrialization in the Russian Empire was a reaction to the industrialization process in Western European countries. In the late 1880s and up to the end of the century, primarily heavy industry developed at a rapid pace, the volume of production of which increased by 4 times, and the number of workers doubled. The government made deliberate efforts that led to an unprecedented industrial boom that began in 1893. The years of this boom were a time of economic modernization of Russia under the auspices of the state. Sergius Witte, was a Russian statesman who served as the first "Prime Minister" of the Russian Empire, replacing the Tsar as head of the government. Neither a liberal nor a conservative, he attracted foreign capital to boost Russia's industrialization. He modernized the Russian economy and encouraged foreign investment particulary from its new ally, France.

First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party

First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party

1898 Mar 13
, Minsk

The 1st Congress of the RSDLP was held between 13 March – 15 March 1898 in Minsk, Russian Empire (now Belarus) in secrecy. The venue was a house belonging to Rumyantsev, a railway worker on the outskirts of Minsk (now in the town centre). The cover story was that they were celebrating the nameday of Rumyantsev's wife. A stove was kept burning in the next room in case secret papers had to be burnt. Lenin smuggled a draft program for the party written in milk between the lines of a book.
Socialist Revolutionary Party

Socialist Revolutionary Party founded

1902 Jan 1
, Moscow

The Socialist Revolutionary Party, or Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries was a major political party in late Imperial Russia, and both phases of the Russian Revolution and early Soviet Russia. The party was established in 1902 out of the Northern Union of Socialist Revolutionaries (founded in 1896), bringing together many local socialist revolutionary groups established in the 1890s, notably the Workers' Party of Political Liberation of Russia created by Catherine Breshkovsky and Grigory Gershuni in 1899. The party's programme was democratic and socialist — it garnered much support among Russia's rural peasantry, who in particular supported their programme of land-socialization as opposed to the Bolshevik programme of land-nationalization—division of land into peasant tenants rather than collectivization into authoritarian state management.

Russo-Japanese War

Russo-Japanese War

1904 Feb 8
, Manchuria

The Russo-Japanese War was fought between the Empire of Japan and the Russian Empire during 1904 and 1905 over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of military operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria, and the seas around Korea, Japan, and the Yellow Sea.

Утром 9-го января (у Нарвских ворот)

1905 Russian Revolution

1905 Jan 22
, St Petersburg

The Russian Revolution of 1905, also known as the First Russian Revolution, was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire, some of which was directed at the government. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies. It led to constitutional reform (namely the "October Manifesto"), including the establishment of the State Duma, the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906. The 1905 revolution was spurred by the Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. Some historians contend that the 1905 revolution set the stage for the 1917 Russian Revolutions, and enabled Bolshevism to emerge as a distinct political movement in Russia, although it was still a minority. Lenin, as later head of the USSR, called it "The Great Dress Rehearsal", without which the "victory of the October Revolution in 1917 would have been impossible".

Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō on the bridge of the Battleship Mikasa.

Battle of Tsushima

1905 May 27
, Tsushima Strait

The Battle of Tsushima was a major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. It was naval history's first, and last, decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets, and the first naval battle in which wireless telegraphy (radio) played a critically important role. It has been characterized as the "dying echo of the old era – for the last time in the history of naval warfare, ships of the line of a beaten fleet surrendered on the high seas".

World War I

World War I

1914 Jun 28
, Europe

The Russian Empire gradually entered World War I during the three days prior to July 28, 1914. This began with Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia, which was a Russian ally at the time. The Russian Empire sent an ultimatum, via St Petersburg, to Vienna, warning Austria-Hungary not to attack Serbia. Following the invasion of Serbia, Russia began to mobilize its reserve army near its border with Austria-Hungary. Consequently, on July 31, the German Empire in Berlin demanded Russian demobilization. There was no response, which resulted in the German declaration of war on Russia on the same day (1 August, 1914). In accordance with its war plan, Germany disregarded Russia and moved first against France, declaring war on August 3rd. Germany sent its main armies through Belgium to surround Paris. The threat to Belgium caused Britain to declare war on Germany on August 4. The Ottoman Empire soon after joined the Central Powers and fought Russia along their border.

Russian Revolution

Russian Revolution

1917 May 8
, Russia

The Russian Revolution was a period of political and social revolution that took place in the former Russian Empire and began during the First World War. Commencing in 1917 with the fall of the House of Romanov and concluding in 1923 with the Bolshevik establishment of the Soviet Union (at the end of the Russian Civil War), the Russian Revolution was a series of two revolutions: the first of which overthrew the imperial government and the second placed the Bolsheviks in power.

The new government established by the Bolsheviks signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Central Powers in March 1918, taking it out of the war; leading to Central Powers victory in Eastern Front, and Russian defeat in World War I.

The Romanov family

Execution of the Romanov family

1918 Jul 16
, Yekaterinburg

The Russian Imperial Romanov family (Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra and their five children: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei) were shot and bayoneted to death by Bolshevik revolutionaries under Yakov Yurovsky on the orders of the Ural Regional Soviet in Yekaterinburg on the night of 16–17 July 1918.


References for Russian Empire.

  • Bushkovitch, Paul. A Concise History of Russia (2011)
  • Freeze, George (2002). Russia: A History (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 556. ISBN 978-0-19-860511-9.
  • Fuller, William C. Strategy and Power in Russia 1600–1914 (1998) excerpts; military strategy
  • Golder, Frank Alfred. Documents Of Russian History 1914–1917 (1927)
  • Hughes, Lindsey (2000). Russia in the Age of Peter the Great. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 640. ISBN 978-0-300-08266-1.
  • LeDonne, John P. The Russian empire and the world, 1700–1917: The geopolitics of expansion and containment (1997).
  • Lieven, Dominic, ed. The Cambridge History of Russia: Volume 2, Imperial Russia, 1689–1917 (2015)
  • Lincoln, W. Bruce. The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias (1983)
  • McKenzie, David & Michael W. Curran. A History of Russia, the Soviet Union, and Beyond. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-534-58698-8.
  • Moss, Walter G. A History of Russia. Vol. 1: To 1917. 2d ed. Anthem Press, 2002.
  • Perrie, Maureen, et al. The Cambridge History of Russia. (3 vol. Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • Seton-Watson, Hugh. The Russian empire 1801–1917 (1967)
  • Stone, David. A Military History of Russia: From Ivan the Terrible to the War in Chechnya
  • Ziegler; Charles E. The History of Russia (Greenwood Press, 1999)
  • iasanovsky, Nicholas V. and Mark D. Steinberg. A History of Russia. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 800 pages.