Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


Medieval and early modern Russia stood at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. In this course we will examine some of the native developments and foreign influences which most affected the course of Russian history. Particular topics include the rise of the Kievan State, the Mongol Yoke, the rise of Muscovy, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, relations with Western Europe. How did foreigners perceive Russia? How did those living in the Russian lands perceive foreigners? What social relations were developing between nobility and peasantry, town and country, women and men? What were the relations of each of these groups to the state? How did state formation come about in Kievan and Muscovite Russia? What were the political, religious, economic, and social factors affecting relations between state and society? In examining these questions we will consider a variety of sources including contemporary accounts (both domestic and foreign), legal and political documents, historical monographs and interpretive essays.


Participation in the course will be evaluated as follows:

  1. Weekly response papers (1-2 pages each) and class participation (20%)
  2. Essay on the decline of Kievan Rus' (5-7 pages) due after lecture 7 (20%)
  3. Research paper and presentation on one topic (weeks 6-13) (7-10 pages) (30%)
  4. Final examination (30%)

Texts for the Course

  • Anisimov, Evgenii V. The Reforms of Peter the Great: Progress Through Coercion in Russia. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 1993.
  • Dmytryshyn, Basil. Medieval Russia: A Source Book, 850-1700. 3rd ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1991.
  • Kaiser, Daniel H., and Gary Marker, eds. Reinterpreting Russian History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
  • Kliuchevsky, V. O. A Course in Russian History: The Seventeenth Century. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994.
  • Martin, Janet. Medieval Russia, 980-1584. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.