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1460 - 1861
         (1460-1725)  The  continuous growth and consolidation of the  REOC and a change of dynasties from Rurik to Romanoff (1613)  were highlights.  With the taking of Kazan (near the old Mongol  Empire capital) in 1551, Russia began its outward march eastward  towards Siberia.  Entry there was in about  1585 and besides the  obvious pretenses of political and military, salt and furs were on the  agenda.  Serfdom was established around 1615, meaning a formal  end to, in the literal sense, hunting-gathering and the beginning of  an all-people-registered-in–only-one-location, agrarian-based  society.  This was also found to be a good base for a conscript  army.  Obviously, this took time to develop, so not much happened  until the adulthood of Peter the Great around 1700.  He cleared a  path to the Baltic Sea after driving out the Swedes and established  the city of St. Petersberg  in 1703.  (*KEY*) To facilitate his plans,  he began bringing in Germans as workers, skilled craftsman,  scientists, advisors, etc.---a trend that continued unabated until  Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.  He built a navy, with plans to  compete with other world colonists and sent Vitas Bering off  towards discovery but everything crashed when he died  unexpectedly in 1725, leaving a huge vacuum of power for 40  years.           (1725-1861)  Things stayed relatively calm in Russia until the  Napoleonic invasion of 1812 but the following things up until then  are worth noting.  Around the mid-1700’s, the Russian Academy of  Science was founded by the great polymath Lomonosov, who is  sometimes considered to be a bastard son of Peter The Great, as  their appearances were very similar.  The Academy’s first president  was a woman, Dashkova.  In the early 1760’s came the next great  leader, Catherine the Great.  In `1764, she began her expansionist  plans by importing about 25,000 German farmers to live in that  same region where the old Mongolian capital was as a buffer  against incursions from the south by still extant Mongol/Siberian  Turkic descendants, generally called Crimeans.  This freed up her  
going west and southwest with her troops and, by the time of her  death in 1796, Russia had annexed all of what was left of Ukraine,  Poland, and a good chunk of Prussia, (*KEY*) meaning  almost all  of European Jewry lived in Russia.  Then she annexed the Crimean  Peninsula in the 1780’s, with an eye on the Black Sea and Turkey  (engagement there actually began before her death).  (*KEY*) She  added French imported talent to the ever-growing German stock  (she herself being 100% German), especially after many French  aristocrats fled France during and after the revolution in 1789. The  language at Court was French, not Russian, which was considered  vulgar.  In these contexts, Catherine was fully extended manpower-  wise;  however,  she refused British requests for contract soldiers  needed to serve in the American colony leading up to 1776 on  ideological grounds.  Russia and the U.S.A. established formal  diplomatic relations in the 1780’s.  Catherine’s son Paul, who  assumed power when she died in 1796 was too fond of Germany  and very weak  (just like his father, who was disposed of by his  mother 35 years earlier so as to assume power);  this vacuum fit the  expansionist desires of Napoleon perfectly, ultimately culminating in  his invasion of Russia in 1812.  By late Autumn,  he was in Moscow.    The Russian commander, Kutuzov, ordered Moscow burned so as  to deprive the French of provisions---Napoleon was forced to flee.   Of the original 200,000+ army that invaded, only 5,000 made it back  to Paris.  This war of 1812 (which is what Tchaikovsky’s 1812  overture is about) was the first example of modern guerilla warfare  using forest on a large scale; the exact scenario repeated itself  (partisans) in ww-2 against Germany.  (*KEY*) The long chase to  Paris exposed many of Russia’s best officers to Western Europe  and its heightened modernity/enlightenment compared to their  homeland.   This allowed brief intellectual flirtations with ideas like  constitutional monarchy but these ended during the interregnum  between Tsars in 1825.  Between then and 1861, the monarchy  spent most of its energy trying to curb enthusiasm for even the  slightest progressive change, symbolized mainly by the great  Russian literary figure Alexander Pushkin.  These efforts culminated  in the disastrous Crimean War in 1854, which showed the world  what a weak comprehensive power Russia really was.  This fact,  combined with the rapidly accelerating Industrial Revolution (with its  attendant inefficiencies related to slavery) led to 1861 and the end  of serfdom---just at the same time as slavery ended in the U.S.A.   The U.S.A. and Russia---distant and worlds apart ideologically---  continued to have good diplomatic relations.