History 151

The History of Russia to 1860


Assignments and Policies
Field Trips and Films
Course Schedule
Lecture Handouts



1. Moss, A History of Russia, vol 1.

This book serves as the basic textbook for the course.  Its purpose is to provide additional details on topics presented in lecture and discussions, as well as presenting an overview of the structure of Russian History in the period covered in this course.  This book has been chosen over other titles because of its brevity, it emphasis on themes important in this course, and its suitability for students new to Russian history.  No amount of time spent reading it will be wasted.

2.  Zenkovsky, Medieval Russia’s Epics, Chronicles, and Tales.

This classic and still highly regarded book includes selections from a range of primary sources, from chronicles and literary tales to homilies and polemics.  This book will provide the materials for our discussion sections.

3. Platonov, The Time of Troubles.

The classic monographic treatment of the great interregnum from 1598 to 1613, and written by one of the greatest Russian historians of the modern era.

4.  Pouncy, ed. and trans., The Domostroi:  Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible.

A remarkable text, produced in the sixteenth century, the Domostroi is a manual for structuring the domestic lives of Muscovites.  It offers a unique and idealized glimpse at attitudes, values and family life in Russia in the pre-modern period, particularly during the time of Ivan the Terrible.

In addition to these works (available at the bookstore for purchase), there will be a number of important readings on reserve at McGill and (sometimes) outside my office door.  See the attached “Course Schedule”.   Please note that, except for those specifically marked “optional”, all the readings listed are required.  Please also note that the optional readings are quite good and worth any amount of time you might be able to devote to them.  All students enrolled in this course for graduate credit are required to read the optional materials.


Assignments and Policies

1. Examinations.  There will be two examinations, a midterm and final.

2. Paper.  Students will write a short (8-10 page) paper on a topic to be agreed upon with the professor.  Be advised that late papers are penalized in ruthless Soviet fashion:  a one-third reduction in the grade of the paper for each day late.  (An “A” paper turned in one day late will receive an “A-,” two days late, a “B+,” three, a “B,” and so on.)

3. Quizzes.  Periodic but short quizzes, at least one of which will be on geography.  The quizzes will be announced in advance.  Make-ups are normally not given.

4. Participation.  Students will be expected to attend class and to have prepared for lectures and for discussion sessions by having read and thought about the assigned readings.  Unexcused or excessive absences will work against you in the final calculation of your grade.


Field Trips and Films

Believe it or not, Westminster College is located in an area of the country rich in Russian and Russian Orthodox culture.   Depending upon the schedules of students, we will plan to make a number of trips to local points of interest that pertain to the material and topics covered in this course.  These trips are optional, but very enriching.  All are strongly encouraged to participate.

In addition, we will be screening a number of classic films about Russian history in our period, including (outside of class) Eisenstein's Alexander Nevskii and Ivan the Terrible (part 1 only).



1. The final grade will be determined according to the following breakdown:

        Midterm:         20%
        Final:               30%
        Paper:              30%
        Quizzes:           10%
        Participation:    10%

2. Grades will be assigned according to the follow numerical equivalencies:

        93-100        A
        90-92          A-
        87-89          B+
        83-86          B
        80-82          B-, .....Etc.


Course Schedule

Week I.
August 28:  Introduction:  The Structure of Russian History
August 30:  Of Topography:  Natural and Ethnic (slides)
        Readings:   Moss, 1-11;
                          Zenkovsky, 1-40.

Week II.
September 2:   Sources and Historiography
September 4:   Rise of Kiev
September 6:   Discussion
        Readings:   Moss, 13-33;
                           Pritsak, “Origins of Rus’” (reserve)
                           Zenkovsky, 43-65.

Week III.
September 9:  The Nature of the Kievan Political System
September 11:  Orthodoxy in the East Slavic Space
September 13:  Kiev’s Fall and New Centers of Power
        Readings:   Moss, 35-67;
                          Pritsak, “Povest’” (reserve—optional);
                          Ware, Orthodox Church, 19-50, 82-95 (reserve);
                           Zenkovsky, 65-73, 85-112, 147-52.

Week IV.
September 16:   Lord Novgorod the Great
September 18:   The Mongols
September 20:   Discussion
        Readings:   Moss, 71-82;
                          Zenkovsky, 167-90, 193-207, 211-23; 224-36, 243-46.

Week V.
September 23:  The Mongols (con’t)
September 25:  Emergence of Moscow
September 27:  The Muscovite Civil War
        Readings:   Moss, 83-104;
                          Zenkovsky, 262-90;
                          Keenan, “Muscovite Political Folkways (reserve);
                          Ostrowski, “Oriental Despotism” (reserve—optional);
                          Halperin, 97-119 (reserve—optional).

Week VI.
September 30: The Gathering of Rus’
October 2:   Imperial Style
October 4:   Discussion
        Readings:   Zenkovsky, 323-332;
                          Ostrowski, 199-43 (reserve).

Week VII.
October 7:  The Agrarian Base
October 9:  Being a Boyar
October 11:  Women and Seclusion
        Readings:   Moss, 106-129;
                          Kollmann, “Elite Women’s Seclusion” (reserve);
                          Ostrowski, 64-84 (reserve—optional);
                          Begin Pouncy’s edition of Domostroi.

Week VIII.
October 14:   The Domostroi
October 16:   Discussion
October 18:   Mid Term Examination
        Readings:  Finish Domostroi.

Week IX.
October 21:  NO CLASS—Mid Break
October 23:  Ivan the Terrible
October 25:  Ivan the Terrible
        Readings:   Moss, 133-149;
                          Zenkovsky, 366-76;
                          Keenan, Aprocrypha, 1-6 (reserve);
                          Keenan, other selections (TBA);
                          Cherniavsky, “Ivan as a Renaissance Prince” SR 27 (1968), (reserve).

Week X.
October 28:  Ivan the Terrible
October 30:  Discussion
November 1:  NO CLASS
        Readings:   Begin Platonov’s Time of Troubles.

Week XI.
November 4:  Time of Troubles
November 6:  Time of Troubles
November 8:  The Modern Century
        Readings:   Moss, 151-63;
                          Zenkovsky, 379-90;
                          Finish Platonov.

Week XII.
November 11:  The Great Ulozhenie
November 13:  The First Influences from the West (Ukraine, Belorussia)
November 15:   Discussion
        Readings:   Moss, 165-185;
                          Selections from the Ulozhenie;
                          Zenkovsky, “The Russian Church Schism,” RR, Oct. 1957 (reserve);
                          Ware, 112-138.

Week XIII.
November 18:   The Schism
November 20:   NO CLASS
November 22:   NO CLASS
        Readings:   Moss, 187-220;
                          Michels, At War with the Church, 1-18 (reserve);
                          Michels, “The Solovki Uprising” (reserve);
                          Zenkovsky, 399-48.

Week XIV.
November 25:  The Schism
November 27:  NO CLASS--Thanksgiving
November 29:  NO CLASS--Thanksgiving

Week XV.
December 2:  Innovations at the End of the Century (Papers due today)
December 4:  Peter the Great
December 6:  Discussion
        Readings:  Moss, 225-247;
                         Other, TBA.

Week XVI.
December 9:  Summary

Examination Period:  Final Examination



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