Key Concept 4.3 State Consolidation and Imperial Expansion

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Empires expanded and conquered new peoples around the world, but they often had difficulties incorporating culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse subjects, and administrating widely dispersed territories. Agents of the European powers moved into existing trade networks around the world. In Africa and the greater Indian Ocean, nascent European empires consisted mainly of interconnected trading posts and enclaves. In the Americas, European empires moved more quickly to settlement and territorial control, responding to local demographic and commercial conditions. Moreover, the creation of European empires in the Americas quickly fostered a new Atlantic trade system that included the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Around the world, empires and states of varying sizes pursued strategies of centralization, including more efficient taxation systems that placed strains on peasant producers, sometimes prompting local rebellions. Rulers used public displays of art and architecture to legitimize state power. African states shared certain characteristics with larger Eurasian empires. Changes in African and global trading patterns strengthened some West and Central African states — especially on the coast; this led to the rise of new states and contributed to the decline of states on both the coast and in the interior. [1]

I. Rulers used a variety of methods to legitimize and consolidate their power.

A. An individual’s claim to have
Louis XIV of France.jpg
authority over other people is not something we humans take for granted. We need a reason to obey. Coercion and force have long been a part of political power, but we yield to them out of fear or for pragmatic reasons rather than our belief that they constitute legitimate reasons for our consent. A state has political legitimacy when subjects choose to recognize its authority because it has some intrinsic validating quality. Notions used by states to legitimize their rule in this period (1450-1750) are examples of important continuities of state-building we have seen since the River Valley Civilizations in Period I. Religion and art continued to be closely connected with the political power of states.

Some examples of religious ideas legitimizing states are:
  • European notions of divine right. The divine right of kings is an important political ideology in Western Europe. It maintains that the king’s authority comes from God and, as such, the king is accountable only to God for his actions. Thus it supports the idea of absolute monarchy in which the monarch’s power is not checked by any earthly agent. In Roman Catholic countries it means that the king’s power must be endorsed by the pope, a tradition that goes back to Charlemagne’s coronation in the year 800 C.E. Here, for example, is an account of the coronation of Charlemagne:
On the most holy day of the nativity of the Lord when the king rose from praying at Mass before the tomb of blessed Peter the apostle, Pope Leo placed a crown on his head and all the Roman people cried out, "To Charles Augustus, crowned by God, great and peace-giving emperor of the Romans, life and victory.” And after the laudation he was adored by the pope in the manner of the ancient princes and, the title of Patrician being set aside, he was called emperor and Augustus. [2]

The ideology of the divine right of kings reached its highest expression during the reign of Louis XIV of France. As Louis was consolidating his control of France, his chief theologian, Jacque Bousset, wrote a work called Politics Drawn from the Words of Holy Scripture which justified the absolute monarchy King Louis was creating. "Monarchical authority comes from God," he wrote. "Royal authority is sacred; religion and conscious demand that we obey the prince. Royal authority is absolute; the prince need render account to no one for what he orders. Even if kings fail in their duty, their charge and their ministry must be respected. . . . Prices are gods." [3] Thus monarchs of Europe--particularly Catholic Europe--justified absolute monarchy with religion.

  • The Safavid's use of Shiism. The Safavids rose out of the dissolution of the Timurid Empire, the state formed by the conquests of Timur, also known as Tamerlane. After his death, Timur’s empire fell to warring family members. (One of his descendants, Babur, conquered northern India and began the Mughal Empire.) In Persia, Mesopotamia, and Eastern Anatolia, the disintegrating Timurid Empire opened the way for Shi’ite sects and Sufi brotherhoods to proliferate. Taking advantage of the absence of any centralized state, Ismail—a leader from a prominent Sufi family—conquered most of these areas in the late 15th century and began the Safavid Empire. However, despite unifying Iran (Persia), much of the population did not accept their authority. After converting to Shia Islam, Safavid leaders “sought to install Shiism as the state religion so as to command the loyalty of the population.” The result was a syncretic blend of Shiism and traditional Persian beliefs. Ismail “adopted many of the forms of Persian, pre-Islamic government, including the title of Shah.” [4] He claimed to have descended not only from the Seventh Imam, [5] but also to be the reincarnation of pre-Islamic kings and prophets.[6] Ismail's religious charisma can be seen in his poetry:

Prostrate thyself! (Bow down)
The maximum extent of the Safavid Empire under Shah Abbas I.png

Pander not to Satan
Adam has put on new clothes,
God has come. [7]
Subsequent Safavid leaders continued to fuse Shiism with their political power. They built mosques and appointed prayer leaders in each village to secure Shia beliefs. [8] The Safavids made their empire a safe haven for Shi’a scholars and invited many of them to migrate to their empire. These religious sages depended on the state for support and in turn recognized the legitimacy of Safavid rule. However, they did not grant them absolute rule over scholarly religious affairs[9] which meant that political and religious leadership would form a dual system of authority, as exists in Iran today.
The Shiism of the Safavids would put them at odds with the greater Sunni community. Arab Muslim scholars were not at ease with the Safavid belief that prophecies did not end with Mohammad or that "the souls of old prophets could transmigrate into different human beings at any given time." [10] These developments also shored up the belief of the Ottomans that they were the protectors of the true form of Islam.
  • Mexica or Aztec practice of human sacrifice The sacrificial system
    Obsidian blades used to remove the hearts of victims in Aztec sacrifices.
    of the Aztecs was notoriously violent. Many sacrifices were aimed at maintaining the empire’s economic and social stability and the calendar year was full of systematic sacrifices performed by groups of different tradesmen at specified times. For example, during the month of Etzalcualiztli, fishermen would sacrifice a slave to guarantee heavy yields. [11] Each month priests perform sacrifices tuned to the seasonal cycles of agriculture and rain. But the most elaborate sacrifices were performed on the top of large pyramids where thousands of captives could be killed in a single day. Warriors led their captives from battle to the temple where priests could cut open their chest and remove the heart in as little as twenty seconds. In some cases, a priest would wear the skin of a sacrificed victim for days, and on other occasions limbs from victims were cooked with dried maize and consumed at elaborate banquets.
Historians are not in total agreement about the purpose of these bloody pageants. Some emphasize that they represent the use of terror and fear to coerce obedience to the state. Others demonstrate how the sacrifices, on which many aspects of Aztec civilization depended, maintained the power of the priests and elites classes who carried them out. They seemed also to have brought cohesiveness to the multi-ethnic and tribal components of the expanding empire. The sacrifices at the capital city of Tenochtitlan were “intended to win the loyalty of a relatively small target group, the young men who formed the core of the Aztec army.” [12]. The recognition and rewarding of young warriors provided a cohesive bond among men from varied backgrounds that minimized ethnic and kinship identities. In doing so, the sacrifices brought greater unity and loyalty to the state.
  • Chinese emperor's performance of Confucian rituals Confucianism was always deeply concerned with rituals, and during the Tang dynasty leaders adapted Confucian rituals to legitimize their rule. Later, when the foreign Manchus established the Qing dynasty, they appropriated these rituals in an effort to claim the Mandate of Heaven and to elevate the importance of the emperor. Many Confucian rituals involved the imperial family. In fact, it is only a slight exaggeration to say that established rituals proscribed most everything the emperor did. For example, in the beginning of the spring the Emperor participated in an elaborate ceremony in which he plowed the first furrow of earth and planted the first seed in front of the Temple of Agriculture. [13] No farm work could begin until the emperor completed this ritual. This ceremonial act procured the good will of the gods, ensured a plentiful harvest, and linked the vigor of Chinese civilization to the actions of the emperor.
A Qing ceremony in which the emperor offers sacrifices at the Xiannong Altar, Temple of Agriculture, in Beijing.

There were other ways the ruling dynasty
An Ottoman miniature painting showing the fall of Limassol Castle on the island of Cypress in 1538.
used Confucian ritual to legitimize their rule. The sacrifices to Heaven, performed in the northern suburbs of the capital during the summer solstice and in the southern during the summer solstice, grew to be the most important ritual. Many rituals of ancestor worship were absorbed into the sacrifices made to Heaven thus creating a close link between the spirits of the ancestors and Heaven. In fact, the Emperor's ancestors became a link between Heaven and the imperial family. By publicly performing these rituals twice a year, the Emperor was reaffirming the Mandate of Heaven. [14]

Some examples of art legitimizing states are:
  • Ottoman miniature painting Influenced by Persian traditions, Ottoman artists continued and developed a rich tradition of courtly art known as miniature paining. As one of the "arts of the book" (along with calligraphy), miniature painting was used to illustrate and embellish government sponsored manuscripts. While earlier Persian paintings depicted mythical heroes and images of paradise, Ottomans used this art to emphasize their imperial conquests. After his defeat of Constantinople in 1453, for example, Mehmed II adopted visual art to perpetuate his "image as a world conqueror" and identify his capture of the city with some of the most important achievements of past conquests, particularly those of Alexander the Great. Mehmet built an imperial scriptorium and solicited Renaissance artists from Italy to come and share their expertise. Ottoman miniature painting reached its peak in the 16th century when
    Emperor Kangxi with a book representing a hallmark of Confucian legitimacy: scholarship.
    the empire created an official post of court historian. Presiding over a team of writers, calligraphers, illustrators and miniaturists, the court historian produced elegant works of Ottoman imperial history. By the 18th century, when Ottoman conquests came to an end, miniature painting focused on portraits of sultans and illustrations of imperial genealogies. A few of them trace the sultans genealogy back through many of the most significant prophets to Adam in the Garden of Eden. Regardless of their topical changes, miniature painting was used by the Ottoman government to reinforce their authority and legitimacy. [15]
  • Qing imperial portraits We saw above how important rituals were to the Chinese imperial court. During the Qing dynasty these ceremonies included the use of art. Imperial portraits of emperors adorned many of the palaces inside the Forbidden City and were an important part of funeral rituals when an emperor died. We see vestiges of ancestor veneration in the fact that some emperors performed ceremonies before portraits of previous leaders of their dynasty and even kowtowed to these portraits. [16] In the public sphere, imperial portraits were utilized to enhance the legitimacy of the emperor. Portraits of emperor Kangxi, for example, often show him surrounded by books or holding a book in his hands, a representation that serves the imperial Confucian ideology that scholarship and command of knowledge merit legitimacy for an emperor. [17] Legitimacy was a crucial factor for Emperor Kangxi. As a Manchu he needed to gain respect from ethnic Chinese; promoting himself as an accomplished scholar helped win the scholar bureaucrats and gain the Mandate of Heaven in the eyes of many Chinese.

Rulers Using Art: An Important Continuity in State Building

State-Building and Monumental Architecture

B. As we have seen since the earliest empires, the territorial growth of states invites the problems of ruling a large multi-ethnic empire. The most successful states found ways to incorporate ethnic and cultural minorities in a way that permitted the state to benefit from their presence while at the same time limiting their political influence. Between 1450 and 1750 there were several examples of states attempting this balancing act.

Ottomans and their non-Muslim subjects After
Ottoman Millets.jpg
the fall of Constantinople in 1453 the Ottoman empire absorbed the former Byzantine lands and the number of Christians under Ottoman rule greatly increased. By the middle of the 1500s the non-Muslim population of the empire reached about 40%. [23] To deal with the increasing diversity of the Empire, Mehmet II introduced what would later be called the millet system. Each millet, from the Arabic word for nation, was an autonomous zone made up of a particular religious group. [24] Each millet was permitted to chose its own leader, practice its own religion, and live by its own religious orders or rules; Sharia law did not have effect within a non-Muslim millet. For example, Orthodox Christians and Jews each had their own respective millets and lived according to their own customs. An influence on the development of non-Muslim millets was that members were not allowed to hold military or political posts. Thus their impact on the Islamic character of the Empire was limited. Consequently, Christian and Jewish millets turned to the development of craft skills, finance and brokerage. [25] They became important intermediaries in trade negotiations with merchants outside the empire benefitting the Ottoman economy.

Manchus and their Chinese subjects As mentioned above, the Qing dynasty expanded Chinese territory larger than it ever had been before and ruled a population of 450 million people. [26] Unlike previous Chinese dynasties, the Qing did not impose Chinese language or culture over their subjects and thought of China as just one part of a larger Manchu empire. [27] They adopted a policy of "ruling different people differently," allowing local languages, customs, and in some cases, permitting local leaders to maintain leadership positions. Some groups had more privileges than others. Manchus, of course, were the most favored group but Chinese were allowed to take governing posts in the Confucian bureaucracy along with Manchus. The highest point to which a Chinese civil servant could rise was an executive position known as a "grand secretary." These administrators had no policy making power; however, they served as channels of communication "by ratifying, and forwarding 'memorials,' reports sent to the emperor from other central and field offices." [28] The highest central administrative positions in Beijing, of course, were reserved for Manchus. Allowing Chinese to earn positions in the bureaucracy through civil service examinations rendered Manchu rule more acceptable for Chinese. And to prevent Chinese from dominating the bureaucracy, it was much easier for Manchus to gain appointments and rise through the ranks.

Spanish America and the República de Indios In colonial America, Spanish administrators sought to adapt and impose the social structure of Iberia. Back home, society was organized into large corporate groups with different levels of rights and privileges adhering to each group rather than to individuals. In the New World the Spanish likewise divided the population into two primary groups. The first group was the república de espanoles comprised of all Iberian born people, Spanish creoles, and anyone else of mixed Spanish race. The other group was the república de indios made up of the non mestizo indigenous population. This separation was initially made to protect indigenous people from the harness of the Spaniards; [29] they were divided into independent communities ruled by their own elites, and they enjoyed their own separate system of courts and laws. The system failed because of Spanish demand for indigenous labor. República de Indios were required to supply labor through the mita system to American silver mines. The became the target of the labor draft in Mexico known as the repartimiento which supplied labor to commercial farms, mines, and select private enterprises. Their required tribute payments became an important source of revenue for the Spanish colonial governments. The continued flow of people between the república de espanoles and the república de indios eventually blurred their distinctive identities. [30]



II. Imperial expansion relied on the increased use of gunpowder, cannons, and armed trade to establish large empires in both hemispheres.


B. Land empires grew dramatically in this era.

Required Examples of Land Based Empires

Manchu Empire

Near the end of the previous period (600-1450) the Ming overthrew Mongol rule and set up a new Chinese dynasty. They established the previous bureaucratic/Confucian political system and sought commercial and tributary contacts with the states in Asia and the Indian Ocean. The Ming sponsored voyages, such as those led by Admiral Zheng He, to restore former Chinese preeminence in the world. In the 1430s these voyages were stopped. The Chinese government decided to devote their resources to purifying their empire and protecting them from further nomadic invasions.

By the 1600s the Ming
18 century Qing China.png
dynasty had grown weak and corrupt. As they declined, the Manchu people across the Great Wall were expanding, unifying a strong state and borrowing Chinese bureaucratic institutions. In 1644 the Manchus entered China and easily drove all the way to Beijing where they defeated the weakened Ming and established their own rule over China, the Qing Dynasty. The Qing Dynasty would be characterized by a problem some other land-based mempires had in this time period—a minority ruling a different ethnic or religious majority. To bridge the gap between themselves and the ethnic Han Chinese, the Manchus implemented the civil service Confucian bureaucracy. Chinese were allowed to rise in the political system, and Qing Emperors adopted the Chinese title Son of Heaven. The Manchu emperors began the practice of publically performing Confucian rituals to gain political legitimization from the Chinese. For example, each year the Emperor would plow the first furrow of ground in front of the Temple of Agriculture (see above). This symbolic gesture was to ensure a good harvest. Most everything the emperor did was choreographed with Confucian ritual. The Manchu emperors continued these rituals. They also kept the classical Confucian texts as the basis of the civil service examination system. The Manchus utilized the nobles of conquered areas to help them administrate and control their growing empire. Buddhists and Muslim leaders, as well as Mongol aristocrats were given positions in the Qing. They respected local traditions by exempting Buddhist
Manz vldv 1897.jpg
monks and monasteries from state labor service and taxes. They respected Mongol traditions by not allowing Chinese to migrate into Mongol territory and dilute Mongol culture. Indeed, the Qing respected Tibetan, Mongol and Buddhist culture, a practice that eased the expansion of the Qing Empire into new areas.

The Manchus outlined what is today the general boarders of China, and by respecting the cultures of minorities they preserved a sense of identity for many of these groups and endowed them with an enduring sense of autonomy (consider Tibet, for example). Despite the fact that ethnic Chinese were allowed to rise in the bureaucracy, the Manchus preserved the highest positions in the government for themselves. They maintained their cultural integrity by banning marriage between Manchus and Chinese. Han Chinese were forbidden to move into the Manchu homeland. They forced the Chinese to forgo the Ming style robs in favor of Manchu garments and ordered the Chinese to adopt the Manchu hair style of shaving the front of the head and braiding the long hair in the back into a queue.

Much of what the Manchu accomplished resembled previous Chinese dynasties. They centralized rule through a bureaucracy. They expanded militarily far into central Asia and established tributary relations with Vietnam, Burma. Korea and Nepal. They focused China’s economic strength more on the practice of agriculture than they did commerce; the city of Canton in the south of China was the only location where trade with Europe was allowed. As new crops were transplanted from the New World, the Qing experienced a large population growth commensurate with their territorial growth. In some areas, silk production exceeded rice production and consumed all surplus labor of peasant families.

Mughal Empire

The Mughals
Mughal Historical Map.png
were another Turkish group of people. They claimed descent from Genghis Khan (Mughal is a Persian term for Mongol). Like the Ottomans, they relied on a military elite armed with firearms and created a strong centralized empire organized with a bureaucracy. They expanded into the south and unified much of the India subcontinent where they ruled an empire comprised mainly of Hindus. Thus the rulers and the ruled were divided along religious lines. The most famous Mughal leader, Akbar, attempted to bridge this divide through a policy of toleration. He married Hindu princesses but did not require them to convert. Hindus were given positions in the government. He invited Christian, Hindu and Muslim scholars to peaceful open debates about the merits of their religions. He removed the religious tax on non-Muslims. Akbar created his own syncretic religion called “the divine faith” which drew on Islamic, Hindu and Zoroastrian beliefs. This religion pointed to the emperor as the leader of all faiths
Kaiser Akbar bändigt einen Elefanten.jpg
in the empire. All this drew the anger of conservative Muslim teachers. Subsequent Mughal leaders fell under the sway of these conservatives and Akbar’s policy of toleration was later abandoned. Hindu temples were destroyed. Religious tension reemerged as a central problem of the Empire.

During hisreign Akbar significantly reformed the Mughal bureaucracy. Previously, the Mughal emperors collected taxes by relying upon a decentralized network of local administrators called zamindars. Acting as local aristocratic landlords, they collected taxes from peasants and sent a set quota to the state. But much of this revenue never made it to the emperor. As profits from the Indian Ocean pepper trade increased, Akbar monetized the tax system (required taxes paid in currency rather than in kind) and required the peasants to sell their grain in market towns and ports for cash where oversight of taxation could be more controlled. Having been bypassed in the taxation process, the role of the zamindars as tax-collecting landlords decreased; political control was also centralized. State profits poured directly into the government’s purse. This windfall of revenue was used to fund military expeditions and to embellish the imperial courts. With the decrease role of the zamindars, Akbar began the process of political centralization.

The most important beautification of the imperial courts was by emperor Shah Jahan. Jahan ruled during the commercial boom of the Mughal Empire and was flush with silver from the New World used to purchase tons of Indian pepper. He constructed the Taj Mahal in memory of his favorite wife. This architectural wonder of the world was a monument to enormous wealth of the Mughal state and displayed the power of the emperor.

During the Mughal empire, the price of spices declined. To maintain their profits, joint-stock companies such as the British East India Company and the Dutch VOC encouraged Mughal leaders to supplement pepper exports with cotton textiles. Cotton, which was softer than many fabrics and could be dyed and printed with elaborate patterns, became an extremely popular fad in Europe. To meet this demand, the Mughal government forced a vast number of peasants to work cotton fields and textile operations. As in Russia, state mandates and incentives led to the mass mobilization of peasants to aid state objectives.

Ottoman Empire

The Ottomans began as Turkish nomadic people, comprised of aggressive and warlike tribes who raided agricultural people. After the Mongols crushed the Seljuks, the Ottomans had room to emerge as a powerful empire.

The Ottoman conquests
Territorial changes of the Ottoman Empire 1801.jpg
expanded into the Byzantine Empire, a process that culminated in the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Many former Byzantines in Anatolia converted to Islam. In the Balkans, many remained Christian. Orthodox churches were allowed to remain. Despite their territorial conflicts with Christian Europe, most Christians in the Empire were permitted to practice their faith. Jewish, Christian, and other minorities could maintain autonomous communities with their own civil laws and customs. The Ottomans recruited many non-Muslims into their elite and relied on their skills for trade and craftsmanship. In fact, a Hungarian Christian cast the cannons that allowed Mehmed II to conquer the Christian city of Constantinople.

Originally military leaders were called the ghazis (elite Muslim warriors or champions: Mehmed II,
Janissary Recruitment in the Balkans-Suleymanname.jpg
who took the city of Constantinople, used this as one of his titles). Later the military grew into a powerful cavalry. As horses need grazing land, the military machine of the Ottoman Empire was based on constant expansion. The wealth from new land grants was used to support the military elites. Thus the Ottoman Empire was strong as long as it was expanding.

The practice of Devshirme (collecting, or gathering) became important to theOttoman state. Large conquered Christian communities were required to hand over a quota of young boys. They were taught Turkish and many of them converted to Islam. Many of these boys became members of the elite Janissaries. These troops came from nonMuslim homes, were raised by the state and depended on the Ottoman state rather than their families. This made them loyal warriors. The Janissaries were also the primary users of firearms, and gunpowder became an essential feature of Ottoman expansion.

Ottoman Empire grew second only to Ming China in Eurasia. It was a state based on expansion, and thus military leaders were the elites (compare with China). Growth of Ottoman Empire was always seen as a threat to Western Christian Europe. Ottomans unsuccessfully laid siege to Vienna twice. As the Ottoman Empire expanded into Persia, they clashed with the Safavid Empire, the Shi’a heirs of the Persian Empire. This clash came to be an epic struggle between the Sunni and Shi’a forms of Islam. The Ottomans gain a decisive victory of the Safavids at the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, an event that stopped the expansion of Shi’a Islam and regulated it largely to the area of present day Iran.

Russian Empire

During this era the Russians broke free from Mongol domination and began a period of territorial expansion and government reform. They embarked on an aggressive program of westernization in order to leap forward and make up for their backwardness vis-à-vis the West. The forced imposition of European culture on the aristocracy of Russia created a wide cultural difference between the upper class and the peasants, a situation that only exacerbated the social tensions between serfs and nobles that was already present.

The first significant leader in this process was Ivan III, also known as Ivan the Great. In a carefully calculated political move, Ivan married the niece of the last Byzantine Emperor and claimed continuity with imperial Rome and the Byzantine Empire. He proclaimed Moscow the “Third Rome” (Constantinople had been the “Second Rome) and exploited his close ties to the Orthodox Church to give legitimacy to his wars of territorial expansion. All in all, Ivan III increased the power of the central Russian government and drew more land under his control. But another Ivan, Ivan IV, would push these advancements to new levels.
Ivan IV (The Terrible) extend
Siege of Kazan (Pyotr Korovin, 1890).jpeg
the Russian empire by defeating the Mongol stronghold city of Kazan. He motivated his soldiers by telling them they were marching as soldiers of Christ (the Mongols had converted to Islam). To commemorate this victory he commission the building of St. Basil’s Cathedral, an architectural symbol of the union of church and state.

Ivan’s most important contribution to the development of Russia is how he dealt with the powerful class of Russia’s aristocrats, the Boyars. If you remember, aristocrats have always been a problem for kings and emperors trying to centralize rule over large territories. Ivan held deep suspicions toward the Russian boyars and simply had many of them killed. Others he forced from their homes to different areas, an action that weakened their class by stripping them from the local connections that had given them power and influence. Consequently, Tsars in Russia would become true autocrats, unhindered by the pressures and influence of aristocracies. For example, even the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV in France was partially limited by the will of the nobles. But in Russia titles of nobility could be conferred or withdrawn arbitrarily by the Tsar. Thus the Russian nobility was kept in subservience to the state and would never emerge as a counter force to the monarch’s power. Their traditional power over local affairs was striped and the power of Russian Tsars would truly be absolute.
In no Tsar was this
Peter der-Grosse 1838.jpg
absolute power more obvious than Peter the Great. As a young man he took the first of several trips to Europe, where he studied shipbuilding and other western technologies, as well as governing styles and social customs. He returned to Russia convinced that the empire could only become powerful by imitating western successes, and he instituted a number of reforms that revolutionized it:
The Petrine Reform
  • Military reform - He built the army by offering better pay and also drafted peasants for service as professional soldiers. He also created a navy by importing western engineers and craftsmen to build ships and shipyards, and other experts to teach naval tactics to recruits. He introduced modern firearms, and gunpowder did much to bring success to Russian military campaigns, as it did with so many other empires during this era.
  • Building the infrastructure - The army was useless without roads and communications, so Peter organized peasants to work on roads and do other service for the government. He also borrowed the Mongol concept of a postal service (the arrow messengers) to facilitate rapid communication across the empire
  • Expansion of territory - The Peter gained Russian territory along the Baltic Sea by defeating the powerful Swedish military. To gain warm weather ports, he tried to capture access to the Black Sea, but he was soundly defeated by the Ottomans who controlled the area. He pushed the empire far to the east in Siberia, reaching the Bering Strait across from Alaska.
  • Reorganization of the bureaucracy and taxation - In order to pay for his improvements, the government had to have the ability to effectively tax its citizens. The bureaucracy had been controlled by the boyars, but Peter replaced them with merit based employees by creating the Table of Ranks, eventually doing away with titles of nobility. In terms of taxation, Peter reformed the tax system. Instead of a tax on each household (which peasants would avoid by registering several families at a single household) Peter taxed on a per-person basis. Although very unpopular, it generated the income to fund his ambitions.
  • Relocation of the capital - Peter moved his court from Moscow to a new location on the Baltic Sea, his "Window on the West" that he called St. Petersburg. The city was built from scratch out of a swampy area, where it had a great harbor for the navy. Its architecture was European, of course. The move was intended to symbolically and literally break the hold that old Russian religious and cultural traditions had on government.
Note that Peter’s reforms borrowed very selectively from Europe. He was not at all interested in Parliamentary governments or movements toward social reform. In this sense, he was much more concerned with the benefits of the Science Revolution than with the ideas of the Enlightenment philosophies; those things that directly benefited military progress and his own autocratic rule most interested him. Yet he did force European rules of etiquette and culture on his nobles. Beards, long considered a sign of religious piety and respect, had to be shaved off. He even forced the Russian upper class to practice European manners and appropriate French as the language of social life. In short, he did much to strengthen Russia into a modern imperial power but at the expense of fostering of a distinctly Russian identity. When Peter died, he left a transformed Russia, an empire that a later ruler, Catherine the Great, would further strengthen. But he also left behind a new dynamic in Russian society: the conflicting tendencies toward westernization mixed with the traditions of the Slavs to turn inward and preserve their own traditions.
To secure the new frontier settlements to the east that had growing since Ivan IV, Russian Czars encouraged peasants to migrate to Siberia. They were provided with incentives, such as grain, seeds, and farming tools. Many peasants sought to create a better and more independent life for themselves by moving east. Fur trappers push to the east as well to take advantage in the profitable trade in furs. For the most part, however, the eastern frontier was settled by peasant migrations who were encouraged by migrate by the Russian government.

C. European states created maritime empires in the Americas.

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