Russia and Europe

Paul Dukes sets the scene for a series of articles on the rise of Russia from the seventeenth century.

Russians, like Britons and Greeks, have often talked of going to Europe as if they were not part of it. Yet, as everybody knows. Russia made a dramatic entry into Europe in the reign of Peter the Great. So what sort of entry was this? And how was the way prepared for it before Peter?

Variations on this complex and paradoxical theme have been the concern of historians for many years. In the series beginning this month, History Today presents the findings of five of them. First, Marc Raeff sets the scene in general and in particular points out the manner in which early-modern ideas of a 'well- ordered police state' were adopted from Northern Central Europe, the principal part of the continent with which Russia made its acquaintance from the late seventeenth century onwards. Jeremy Black then describes a century of international relations, during which it was by no means always clear that Russia would achieve dominance in the East and a formidable reputation stretching to the West.

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