The Elusive Empire: Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552-1671

The Elusive Empire: Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552-1671

by Matthew P. Romaniello
     
 

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In 1552, Muscovite Russia conquered the city of Kazan on the Volga River. It was the first Orthodox Christian victory against Islam since the fall of Constantinople, a turning point that, over the next four years, would complete Moscow’s control over the river. This conquest provided a direct trade route with the Middle East and would transform Muscovy into a

Overview

In 1552, Muscovite Russia conquered the city of Kazan on the Volga River. It was the first Orthodox Christian victory against Islam since the fall of Constantinople, a turning point that, over the next four years, would complete Moscow’s control over the river. This conquest provided a direct trade route with the Middle East and would transform Muscovy into a global power. As Matthew Romaniello shows, however, learning to manage the conquered lands and peoples would take decades.
    Russia did not succeed in empire-building because of its strength, leadership, or even the weakness of its neighbors, Romaniello contends; it succeeded by managing its failures. Faced with the difficulty of assimilating culturally and religiously alien peoples across thousands of miles, the Russian state was forced to compromise in ways that, for a time, permitted local elites of diverse backgrounds to share in governance and to preserve a measure of autonomy. Conscious manipulation of political and religious language proved more vital than sheer military might. For early modern Russia, empire was still elusive—an aspiration to political, economic, and military control challenged by continuing resistance, mismanagement, and tenuous influence over vast expanses of territory.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Elusive Empire is the story of the colonial project and expansion down the multiethnic Volga, which made Russia a permanent great power. With attention to all parties involved, and based on massive, fresh archival research, Matthew Romaniello provides a surprising and exciting tableau and account.”—David M. Goldfrank, Georgetown University

“On the basis of impressive archival research, this book sets out a remarkable analysis of the policies, institutions, and modes of rule practiced in the newly conquered territories, thus providing a welcome view into how imperial rule took shape on the ground.”—Valerie A. Kivelson, author of Cartographies of Tsardom: The Land and Its Meanings in Seventeenth-Century Russia

“A thorough and painstaking discussion of the period in which the Russian Empire—and its Eurasian nature—was established.”—Peter Gordon, The Asian Review of Books

Elusive Empire is a thoroughly researched, sophisticated analysis of the way in which the Russian Empire took shape in Kazan.”—The Russian Review

“The text is enlivened by numerous vivid vignettes and significantly enhanced by the illustrations, tables, and especially maps. . . . This is an outstanding book.”—The Slavic Review

“Matthew Romaniello’s interesting book . . . is coherent, well grounded in the sources, and persuasive. His Elusive Empire is a real achievement casting a new light on the periphery of the expanding early modern Russian state.”—Cahiers du Monde Russe

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299285135
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
01/30/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
296
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Matthew P. Romaniello is assistant professor of history at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, editor with Charles Lipp of Contested Spaces of Nobility in Early Modern Europe, and editor with Tricia Starks of Tobacco in Russian History and Culture.

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