Russian Empires

Dominic Lieven

in Sovereignty After Empire

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780748643042
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653270 | DOI:
Russian Empires

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This chapter discusses the history of empires in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Russia is part of the family of great land empires. Russian monarchy, which was the key to much of its success as an empire, evolved from the leadership of a military band into a divinely sanctioned dynasty, in principle standing above all social groups and political institutions, indeed, almost above the human condition itself. It did this by taking on aspects of Qingissid and, above all, Byzantine imperial tradition. The Soviet Union was in many ways a unique empire. The USSR was never an equal society, but the ban on ownership or the inheritance of property made it in most respects much less unequal than most historical empires. Though most empires ruled over their periphery in collaboration with native elites, the Soviet policy of creating new native elites and then giving them preference over Russian colonists in their ancestral homelands differed sharply from the norms both of aristocratic land empire and of modern European transoceanic empire.

Keywords: Russia; Soviet Union; empire

Chapter.  8274 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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