Cossacks and the Russian Empire, 1598-1725: Manipulation, Rebellion and Expansion into Siberia

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Using a wide range sources, this book explores the ways in which the Russians governed their empire in Siberia from 1598 to 1725. Paying particular attention to the role of the Siberian Cossaks, the author takes a thorough assessment of how the institutions of imperial government functioned in seventeenth century Russia.

It raises important questions concerning the nature of the Russian autocracy in the early modern period, investigating the neglected relations of a vital part of the Empire with the metropolitan centre, and examines how the Russian authorities were able to control such a vast and distant frontier given the limited means at its disposal. It argues that despite this great physical distance, the representations of the Tsar’s rule in the symbols, texts and gestures that permeated Siberian institutions were close at hand, thus allowing the promotion of political stability and favourable terms of trade. Investigating the role of the Siberian Cossacks, the book explains how the institutions of empire facilitated their position as traders via the sharing of cultural practices, attitudes and expectations of behaviour across large distances among the members of organisations or personal networks.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Specialists who are interested in early modern institutions, the problem of autocracy, and Russian empire-building will find it well worth their time to wade through its welter of details and fascinating case studies.' - Brian J. Boeck, DePaul University, Russian Review, 2008

'This book is both carefully researched and convincingly argued. While locating his work in a broad spectrum of the secondary literature, Witzenrath helpfully summarizes current understandings of workings of Muscovite authority. His research then significantly extends our perception of the extra-institutional functioning of Russian society in the long seventeenth century. The focus on Russia’s Siberian colony is particularly important; the diverse arrangements which allowed the extension (and transformation) of Russian administrative and social functions into its regions and colonies have not received the attention they deserve.' - CAROL B. STEVENS Colgate University, American Historical Review, 2008

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Christoph Witzenrath is Assistant Lecturer at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. His research interests include medieval, early-modern European, Russian and Soviet history.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Acknowledgements     xi
Figures     xiii
Introduction     1
Aims and objectives     1
Siberia in the seventeenth century     6
Empire and expansion     20
Sources     27
The Cossack group     31
Group rule and the leader     34
Integration through institutional adaptation: advice and the Cossacks     49
Intermediary ranks     55
The voevoda and the Personenverband     58
The economics of Siberian service     62
Conflict and negotiation     70
Credit, trade and service     78
Integration of the trading frontier: the sovereign's affair     85
Siberia in the seventeenth century - a vast military camp?     86
The limited public sphere, patronage, and Cossack litigation     87
The regalian salutation     97
The sovereign's word and affair     99
Conclusion     119
Kormlenie and bribery: local influence and administration     122
Cultural blindness or reasonable flexibility?     130
Conclusion     138
Local and central power in the Baikal region 1689-1720     139
Two faces of power around Lake Baikal     141
Sedentarization and rebellion     150
A shaky alliance on the Selenga     152
Confrontation     164
Trade and rebellion     167
Conclusion     180
Conclusion     182
Glossary     189
Notes     192
References     228
Index     247
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