Forging a Unitary State: Russia’s Management of the Eurasian Space, 1650–1850

By John P. LeDonne

© 2020

Covering two centuries of Russian history, Forging a Unitary State is a comprehensive account of the creation of what is commonly known as the "Russian Empire," from Poland to Siberia. In this book, John P. LeDonne demonstrates that the so-called empire was, for the most part, a unitary state, defined by an obsessive emphasis on centralization and uniformity. The standardization of local administration, the judicial system, tax regime, and commercial policy were carried out slowly but systematically over eight generations, in the hope of integrating people on the periphery into the Russian political and social hierarchy.

The ultimate goal of Russian policy was to create a "Fortress Empire" consisting of a huge Russian unitary state flanked by a few peripheral territories, such as Finland, Transcaucasia, and Central Asia. Additional peripheral states, such as Sweden, Turkey, and Persia, would guarantee the security of this "Fortress Empire," and the management of Eurasian territory. LeDonne’s provocative argument is supported by a careful comparative study of Russian expansion along its western, southern, and eastern borders, drawing on vital but under-studied administrative evidence. Forging a Unitary State is an essential resource for those interested in the long history of Russian expansionism. 

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 756 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Was Russia truly an empire respectful of the differences among its constituent parts or was it a unitary state seeking to create complete homogeneity?

Forging a Unitary State: Russia’s Management of the Eurasian Space, 1650–1850

By John P. LeDonne

© 2020

Covering two centuries of Russian history, Forging a Unitary State is a comprehensive account of the creation of what is commonly known as the "Russian Empire," from Poland to Siberia. In this book, John P. LeDonne demonstrates that the so-called empire was, for the most part, a unitary state, defined by an obsessive emphasis on centralization and uniformity. The standardization of local administration, the judicial system, tax regime, and commercial policy were carried out slowly but systematically over eight generations, in the hope of integrating people on the periphery into the Russian political and social hierarchy.

The ultimate goal of Russian policy was to create a "Fortress Empire" consisting of a huge Russian unitary state flanked by a few peripheral territories, such as Finland, Transcaucasia, and Central Asia. Additional peripheral states, such as Sweden, Turkey, and Persia, would guarantee the security of this "Fortress Empire," and the management of Eurasian territory. LeDonne’s provocative argument is supported by a careful comparative study of Russian expansion along its western, southern, and eastern borders, drawing on vital but under-studied administrative evidence. Forging a Unitary State is an essential resource for those interested in the long history of Russian expansionism. 

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 756 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    John P. LeDonne is a senior research associate at the Davis Center, Harvard University.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction

    Part I. The Southern Theater Reaches the Sea

    1. Laying the Foundations, 1650–1725
        Geography and Geopolitics
        The Cossacks   
        Society, Religion, and Trade

    2. Towards Full Integration, 1725–96
        Civil and Military Administration 
        Ecclesiastical and Legal Integration 
        The Ethnographic Map

    3. Empire or Unitary State? 1796–1855
        Regional Integration 
        Fiscal and Commercial Integration 
        The First Cracks

    Conclusion

    Part II. The Struggle for Northwestern Eurasia

    4. Laying the Foundation, 1650–1775
        The Geopolitical Setting 
        Hesitant Integration 
        Trade, Religion, and Law

    5. Full Integration, 1775–1815 
        Territorial and Administrative Integration
        Religion and Economy
        The Baltic Provinces

    6. Empire or Unitary State? 1815–55
        Civil Administration and the Army 
        Society, Law, and Trade
        On the Road to Disintegration

    Conclusion

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