Keywords and Essay Questions
HIST 346 Imperial Russia =

Exam Structure
Midterm exam keywords
Final exam keywords
Midterm exam essay questions
Final exam essay questions


Midterm and final exams have much the same structure, the main difference being the midterm takes one classroom period, and the final is a two-hour exam.

HST 346: Midterm or final....

I.        INSTRUCTIONS:  READ AND THINK ABOUT THE WHOLE EXAM BEFORE YOU START WRITING (5 minutes).  Write your exam in your journal.  Indicate its pages in your table of contents.  As a general rule, you show your accomplishments best by avoiding duplication of topics and items covered in your exam and in draft essays. To put this in a more positive way, strive to show the breadth of your learning.  REMEMBER:  the purpose of this exam is to allow you to show what you have learned, not to discover what you have not learned.  So show-off a bit! The exam is designed to take one hour [final = 2 hours].

II.  Identify and give the significance of five (5) [final = 10] of the following items.   Devote 4 minutes to each of your choices.  Total time for IDs equals 20 [final = 40] minutes.  REMEMBER, AVOID DUPLICATION.

On the exam sheets handed out at exam times, I will have selected a small number of the Keywords below, appropriate to the material covered up to the time of the exam

III. Argue the strengths and weaknesses of two [final = three or four] of the following contentions (20 minutes each, 40 [final up to 80] minutes in all).  Notice that the questions are broad in order to give you the chance to select specific examples from lectures and your own reading.  Think through how you would express the strongest arguments pro and con, then use examples to illustrate your contentions. REMEMBER, thou shalt not duplicate:

On the exam sheets handed out at exam times, I will have selected a small number of the Study Questions below, appropriate to the material covered up to the time of the exam

Let me emphasize in general the importance of the two pairs of words in the model exam text above, "strengths" & "weaknesses", and "identify" & "significance" (I've highlighted them on this page). Always consider the two or more sides to the issues raised in the essay questions. As for the IDs, identification should be the easy and elementary part of your answer. After all, you might very well have key names, places, and dates inscribed in an earlier part of your journal. And on this page they are listed for you before hand. The really interesting part, and your chance to compose brief but significant historical narrative, is the question of significance. Why should we bother to know anything about the item under consideration? How does it fit into the larger scheme of Russian history? What is the importance, what is novel, what followed, etc.? "Identify" calls on good memory and good notes; "significance" calls on your good mind and wisdom.

On the last page of your journal, after reading exams, I enter my evaluations, using what I call "Frequently Observed Qualities" [FOQs]


(most from SAC, some from lectures. Linkage here to SAC is meant to help you put SAC together with lecture notes)

I advise studying the IDs (keywords) first


I. Mentalities

German (or Foreign) Quarter in Moscow [nemetskaia sloboda]

1713: Fedor Saltykov
1722: Feofan Prokopovich
1724: Ivan Pososhkov
1767jy19: Nakaz (Instructions)
1769:1818; Nikolai Novikov
1787: Mikhail Shcherbatov
1790se04: Aleksandr Radishchev
1794:Grigorii Skovoroda

II. Institutions

1480s:1775; Voevoda (military administrator)
1649: Erofei Khabarov
1682:1689; Regent Sofiia and Vasilii Golitsyn

1699:1700; Petrine "Dress code"
1711:+; Senate
1717de11: Nine Colleges
1718: Aleksei, Son of Peter I
1720:1740s; Vasilii Tatishchev
1720fe28: General Regulation
1721ja25: Holy Synod
1722ja24: Table of Ranks
1726fe: Dmitrii Golitsyn
1726:1730; Supreme Privy Council
1730ja19: Conditions imposed on Empress Anna
1741:1762; Reign of Empress Elizabeth
1755: Moscow University and Mikhail Lomonosov
1760s: Peter III and Catherine II
1766de14: Legislative Commission
1785ap20: Charter for the Nobility
1785: Charter for the Towns
1802:+: Mikhail Speranskii
1802se08:Unofficial Committee
1816:1821; Aleksei Arakcheev
1826+: His Majesty's Own Chancery
1837:1841; Pavel Kiselev and state peasants
1850s:1860s; Noble (or Gentry) Assemblies
1860s:Great Reforms

III. Society

Sosloviia (formal social estates or medieval social classes) and Social/Service Hierarchies
1762 and 1785: Emancipation of nobles
1765: Free Economic Society

1849; Petrashevtsy
1860s:1880s; Revolutionary Situations, and Petr Valuev
1860s:+; Intelligentsia, Raznochintsy (people of various ranks)
1870s:+; Zemstvos and "Third Element"

IV. Economy 

1550s:1800s; Mercantilism
1600s: Promyshlenniki (Cossack commercial adventurers)
Gerschenkron thesis
1799my08: Russian America Company

1860s:1880s; Redemption payments

V. Geography

Metropol and periphery
1689au27: Treaty of Nerchinsk
1697:1698; Grand tour
1709je27: Charles XII and the Turkish Sultan
1721au20: Nystad Treaty 
1760oc: Seven Years War
1772:1795; Partitions of Poland
1773:1774; Pugachev Rebellion
1783: Greek Project of Catherine II and Potempkin
1805:+; Napoleon and Alexander I

(Notes in journal on these links to SAC entries are good, but
remember the importance & usefulness of notes on some of the readings identified in SAC)

Mentalities =
Ivan Aksakov
Vissarion Belinskii
Aleksandr Blok
Wladimir Weidlé's concept of "horizontal" and "vertical" culture in Russia
Petr Chaadaev
Nikolai Chernyshevskii
Nikolai Danilevskii
Durnovo memo to Nicholas II
Golden Age of Russian Culture
Alexander Herzen
Lenin's Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
Official Nationality
Konstantin Pobedonostsev
Alexander Pushkin
Silver Age of Russian Culture
Vyborg Manifesto
Institutions =
Constitutional Democratic Party (KDs or Kadets)
First and Second Dumas
Mir or obshchina (Peasant commune)
October Manifesto
People's Will Party
Social Democratic Party (SDs)
Social Revolutionary Party (SRs)
Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies
Third State Duma
Trudoviki [Laborites]
Union of Unions
Zemstvo Constitutionalists
Society =
Bezdna uprising
Gapon and Bloody Sunday
Paul Miliukov
Third Element
Economy =
Aleksandr Bezobrazov
Export, though we may starve
Stolypin Land Law
Trans-Siberian railroad 
Witte System
World War One military mobilization
Zubatov labor unions (“police socialism”)
Geography =
Russo-Turkish War
Russo-Japanese War




Geo-physical realities (geography) determined Russian's imperial expansion and foreign policy.  (Employ examples and counter-examples from lectures and readings.)

The most important geographic consideration of Peter I's foreign policy was relations with “The West”.

Every authority seems to agree that Peter I was a powerful ruler, yet "the Petrine transformation" evaporated in the years after his death.

Peter I thought only of war; "the Petrine transformation of Russia" had military/imperialist objectives, and these alone.

Peter I and Catherine II were both Enlightened Monarchs.

Peter the Great and Catherine the Great both admired and sought to introduce to Russia the full glory of Western European civilization.

The reforms of Alexander I sought to bring Russia into the new European revolutionary era.

The reforms of Nicholas I can be characterized as "frightened absolutism", in contrast to earlier "enlightened absolutism" in Russian history. His reign was one of unrelieved reactionary policy.

Isabel de Madariaga has written in Russia in the Age of Catherine the Great =  "Bondage, in one form or another, extended all the way through Russian society." Emancipation in Imperial Russia always meant a new form of bondage.  (Choose your examples from the social and political experiences of nobles and peasants.)

Catherine II accomplished little by way of enlightened reform. She was all ideas and no action.

From Catherine II through the reign of Alexander II, reforms never really addressed the central problems of Russian life. No reform brought any good to Russia so long as political reform and social reform were scrupulously shunned by officials.

Alexander I was no reformer, and Nicholas I was no reactionary. Alexander I is best represented by Arakcheev and Nicholas I by Pavel Kiselev



The Gerschenkron thesis on rhythms of Russian history gives no insight into the course of events from the time of Peter the Great through WW1.

The tension between the autocratic ideal, on the one hand, and the realities of tsarist bureaucracy, on the other, was the central fact of Russian political life in the 19th century.  The Russian state was its own worse enemy.

In the nineteenth century regular bureaucratic institutions in Russia served as an instrument of power against the independence of society, high and low.  But these same institutions could also imply a limitation on the independence of the throne. That's how to understand the institutional innovations of Nicholas I or the stop-go reactionary regime of Alexander III, or, even, the vacillations of state policy under Nicholas II.

A cultural revolution preceded the social revolutions of the twentieth century in Russia.

Wladimir Weidle's concept of "two cultures" perfectly describes the history of Russian literature and thought from the 18th century up to the early 20th century. Here are a few moments relevant to Weidle's argument = 1699 1721 1741 1755 1826 1833 1859 1863 1886 1893

In the 18th and 19th centuries there was no relationship between main social and economic trends, on the one hand, and intellectual trends, on the other. For example, it is impossible to define a relationship between Russian radicalism and the tsarist economic or social structures. The Russian intelligentsia was a rootless or "unattached" collection of people.

There are no significant differences between Slavophilism and panslavism.

The readings in Thomas Riha, Readings (volume 2) show that tensions between Russian and "Western European" identity, between native self-consciousness and modern ways, were the main themes of Russian intellectual life.  (Select 3-4 examples.)

In the years from 1861 to 1914, the main effect of the Era of Great Reforms was to strengthen the tsarist state at the expense of the social-economic structures of the Russian Empire.

Major changes in the Russian social structure between 1861 and the outbreak of World War I (e.g., growth in numbers and activities of "intelligentsia" and "wage laborers", decline of gentry aristocracy, evolution of a peasant "farmer" class) show the healthy dynamism of Old Regime Russia.

The intellectual disputes of the early 20th century are a sure sign of Russian cultural crisis and impending collapse.

The "Witte System" for industrial development and the Stolypin land reforms were failures; Russia remained a "backward" nation.

The Stolypin land reforms had very little to do with the strengths or the weaknesses of the 1861 emancipation of serfs.

The thought of Karl Marx has nothing to offer a backward, non-industrial area of the world like Russia because his proletarian revolution required a vast bourgeois revolution first to happen. Even Lenin failed to apply Marx to Russia in a convincing fashion.

The 1905 Revolution profoundly transformed Russia.

"Yet while emphasizing the basic European nature of Russia, one must also consider certain peculiarities which set it apart...."  -Th. Von Laue.

World War One caused the Russian Revolutions of 1917


The three years from 1917 to 1920 were the last gasp of Old Regime Russia, and the final fall was caused by Allied intervention