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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  • Page Count: 682 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.5in 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: 682 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.5in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "Dealing with complex issues of statehood and government, Forging a Unitary State can be situated under the rubric of a broadly defined institutional history. LeDonne builds upon a profound variety of primary sources and the massive corpus of his previous scholarship in Russian geopolitics, tsarist bureaucracy, and the system of administration. The book poses new questions that challenge widely held narratives about Russia becoming an empire."


    Mikhail Dolbilov, Department of History, University of Maryland

    "Forging a Unitary State is a sprawling work of immense erudition."


    Kira Stevens, Department of History, Colgate University

    "John P. LeDonne’s work, unique in its scale and design, connects the stories of Russia’s external territorial expansion and internal political consolidation. A result of many years of research, this book is an encyclopedia of imperial governance that will be indispensable for all historians of the Russian Empire."


    Ekaterina Pravilova, Department of History, Princeton University
  • Author Information

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

    List of Maps
    List of Tables
    Acknowledgments
    Note on the Text

    Introduction

    Part I. The Western Theatre: The Struggle for Northwestern Eurasia

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

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

    3. Unitary State or Empire? 1815–1855
    Civil Administration and the Army
    Society, Law, and Trade
    On the Road to Disintegration

    Conclusion to Part I: The Western Theatre

    Part II. The Southern Theatre Reaches the Sea

    4. Laying the Foundations, 1650–1725
    The Geopolitical Setting
    The Cossacks
    Society, Religion, and Trade

    5. Toward Full Integration, 1725–1796
    Civil and Military Administration
    Ecclesiastical and Legal Integration
    The Ethnographic Map

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

    Conclusion to Part II: The Southern Theatre

    Part III. The Eastern Theatre: The Advance toward the Mountains

    Introduction to Part III: The Eastern Theatre

    7. Laying the Foundations, 1650–1730
    The Geopolitical Setting
    The Expanding Russian Core
    Agents of Integration

    8. The Progress of Integration, 1731–1782
    The Military Structure
    Land, Peoples, Religions
    Fiscal and Commercial Integration

    9. Unitary State or Empire? 1782–1830
    The Administrative Infrastructure
    Judicial Integration
    Economic Integration

    Conclusion to Part III: The Eastern Theatre

    Conclusion

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