Eastern Europe and Russia, AP World History p.2

Individual Descriptive Analyses

Ottoman Gain of Territory by Kevin G.

     The Ottomans became a force to be reckoned with during the 15th and 16th centuries. After the dissemination of the Mongol empire, the Ottomans could now rise and become a major empire. The rise of the Ottomans correlates to the fall of the Eastern Roman empire, changing from a Christian influence, to now a Muslim Islamic influence. With the fall and conquest of Constantinople on 1453, an Ottoman growth can now proceed. It was this new power that let the Ottomans take religious control of the Middle East, grant great independence to the military aristocracy and the sultans, and mastery of the Mediterranean Sea.
     As the Ottomans expanded, control over mass amounts of people occurred. The religious fight between the Islamic Ottomans and the Christian Byzantines continued to fight on, but as the Ottomans grew closer to Constantinople, primarily through Anatolia and the Balkans, the fight was drawing to an end. With the conquest in 1453, Constantinople became the new Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The commercial center of the East is now Islamic, leading to a rising Muslim force over the Christians. With this new influence in trade, more and more converts can be made, leading to religious control.

     The Ottoman empire gave great independence to the military aristocracy due to the success from them. They were granted conquered lands, which in turn led to a large threat to the sultan's power. Most of these new lands had the Janissaries, which made up the military for the empire. The sultans had majority of the power early one, both politically and through the military. As the empire grew, corruption occurred and manipulation of the people was imminent. This, in turn, led to the downfall of the empire.
     Major control of the Mediterranean Sea was a major factor in the rising power of the Ottomans. Through the harbor and ship-building industry, they became a major naval power. They maintained pressure on the Byzantines through bases in the Mediterranean. The attack on Cyprus in 1570 led to a naval alliance between other Christian European countries. They later defeated the Ottomans at the battle of Lepanto. Although no longer a threat, the Ottoman still controlled much of the Mediterranean
     All in all, as all other empires did, the Ottoman fall was imminent. But their legacy and impact was very large. Especially through the rise of the Muslim empire and the defeat of the Eastern Roman Empire. The conquest of Constantinople led to the rise of Istanbul, which raged a war between the Islamic people and the Christians. Their success was thanks to the powerful military aristocracy. This ironically also led to their downfall through corruption. Their naval forces were second to none, and incredibly powerful.

The Effects of the Janissaries, by Richard C. 2/17/11

    The effect of the janissaries cannot be measured in quantitative forms but it is still very evident when looking closely. The Ottoman Empire's army would be mothing without the janissaries. There would be no army without them. In effect the Ottoman Empire would not be what we know it to be if it had not been for the christian boys that were carried over to the Ottoman territory, who grew up to become the janissaries. Although they were not of Ottoman birth the janissaries were of critical importance to the Ottomans in their army and even enjoyed a social status greater than most.
    The janissaries are known for being the Ottoman Empire's first real army. They were a closely organized, marching army. They were one of the first armies to use firearms, and wear matching uniforms. Due to their upgraded technology and strong disciplined organization they were unmatched by any forces in Europe. The armies of the janissaries were able to easily crush the feudal armies of Europe. Their organization and discipline, which begain in childhood, made them a well functioning standing army. their supremacy in warfare made their European enemies take notice of them. Their attacks forced the European armies to improve themselves to match.
    The janissaries were not Ottoman people. They were children from Christian lands that were kidnapped at a young age. They were brought back to Ottoman territories where they were slaves. Although being slaves they had many freedoms. The janissaries became their own social class which separated them from the rest of the Ottoman population. However, as they were slaves, they were not separated directly but instead had close contact to the Ottoman people, especially royalty. Janissaries had an even greater impact if they were intelligent enough to be sent to a school, which greatly increased their chances to have a promising career later on. Some families conscripted their children voluntarily because of the promising social advancement that janissary service included.
    Janissaries enjoyed a very high social status for a slave. The janissaries were in fact slaves within the Ottoman Empire. Many of them were kidnapped by the Ottomans to be used as slaves. Early on in the creation of the janissaries they were not allowed to marry, nor could they take any other job than within the military. After some time however their position moved up. They were allowed to marry and even received a pension for retirement. They were thought of less as slaves and gained a higher social status. Some of the most elite janissaries even became advisers to the sultan.
    The Ottoman Empire needed the janissaries. They were the core of the empire's army that made it the disciplined force that allowed it to conquer European territories. The janissaries deeply influenced the Ottoman culture, so much that they had a social status almost equal to the high end Ottomans. They even influenced the sultan and his decisions. Christian nations were affected as well when the Ottoman kidnappers stole the Christian's children. The effect of the janissaries is major in the Ottoman's and allowed other nations to look to them as an example.

Is Russia Really a Thrid Rome? by Kyle S. 2/17/11

    The Roman Empire made a lasting impression on World History. Its legacy refuses to fade as successive empires make claims to be the next Rome. First with the Byzantium in Eastern Euroope, then the Holy Roman Empire in the West, and finally Russia in geographic northern Asia. Ivan III even created the title tsar, meaning ceasar. The big question is still there, is Russia really a third Rome? Because of location differences, Russia's technique at expansion is different from those of first and second Rome, but patterns in culture and religion persist through all three Romes.
    Rome and Byzantium both sustained highly militaristic focuses. Both maintained large armies and continuous expansion. Russia, through climatic isolation, did not have or need as much at a drive for expansion. Rome and Byzantium had elite class armies, soldiers that were well trained and well traveled. Russian government exploited the "cossack spirit" and recruited peasants to form armies to expand and conquer for Russia in return for new land. Russia also rewarded loyal aristocrats with leadership over those new lands, wheras Rome kept local government in place.
    Later into the Roman Empire and throughout Byzantium, Christianity dominated as the prominate religion. Russia continues this Roman tradition of religion, though differently. Instead of Roman Catholicism, they have Orthodox Christianity. This was especially prevalent with Alexis Romanov. The second in the Romanov line, Alexis remade state control of the church to abolish superstitions he believed to persist since Mongol times.
    The three Rome's similar expansion patterns led to similar patterns in multicultural growth. As Rome conquered new lands, local practices persisted as long as Rome got all the food, money, and slaves they needed. Russia conquered a variety of Central Asian cultures, but Russian tradition allowed for their cultures to remain yet still be part of the Russian empire. rome also commonly stole culture and ideas it liked from its neighbors, namely the Greeks. Byzantium often did the same with the Muslims. Russian leaders Peter the Great and Catherine the Great were both heavy supporters of Westernization. Italian architects were hired to design ornate buildings and monasteries, such as the Kremlin. Peter would often travel and return with Western artisians. Catherine was a strong supporter of French enlightenment and craftsmanship. All the empires supported highly multicultural societies.
    Russia's use of cossacks slightly separated it from Rome. However, the persistance of Christianity and the prominant multiculturalism patterns maintained Russia as a possible claim to the title of third Rome. Russian pride and nationalism helps to drive Russia toward in its hope to line up to Rome's legacy. Those are some big shoes to fill. In Filofei's Concept of the Thrid Rome, he states that Russia is the third Rome, and there shall not be a fourth.

The Partition of Poland by Emily A. 2/18/11

    The Partition of Poland was not a one time ordeal. It took place in three steps, over thirty years. The first partition was in 1772, the second in 1793, and the third in 1795. Taken care of because of a Russian alliance with Austria and Prussia, the Partition of Poland led to the elimination of the Polish state. The Partition of Poland was started by Catherine the Great who had an interest in politics, was enhanced by the alliance with Austria and Prussia, and led to Russian involvement in other people's politics.
    Catherine the Great took over in 1761 after decades of bad rulers. Technically, her husband Peter III was suppsoed to get the throne, but he wasn't a fit ruler mentally so Catherine got it. She played "power politics" in Europe, yet was awesome enough to do so without starting a war. These politics would eventually lead to alliances. One of these alliances was with Prussia, which she more than likely got because of her status once as a German princess.
    Alliances with Austria and Prussia were enacted thanks to Catherine the Great. These alliances against the weak Polish government were deadly. Eventually, in 1795, the Polish government was taken over by this power alliance. Unevenly divided up, Russia got the majority of Poland. At this point, Poland was no longer an individual state. This will create an interaction of Russia with other government systems in Europe.
    After Poland was conquered, the Russians began involving themselves in European affairs. They started messing with other conflicts all over the continent. One such involvement was in 1812 with Napoleon's French army. This marked the first time the Russian troops went into Western Europe. Overall, Russia started asserting their dominance in the world, like they would eventually in the world post WWII.
    Overall, Catherine the Great's alliance with Austria and Russia led to a dominance of Russia after the elimination of Poland. This is the first of many times Poland would get stomped on, and its kind of hard to not feel sorry for them. Very rarely throughout history, especially in the 1900s, do they get to be independent. But, when your government is consistently that weak, you honestly can't expect any different. So, being the first of many Polish conquerings, the Partition of Poland makes its importance known by foreshadowing the future.

Was Peter the Great beneficial to Russia? by David L. 2/18/2011

    He is known as Peter the Great for being a good ruler. But the question is, was he really so great? During his reign from 1682-1725, many things occurred in Russia which caused a significant change. Though there were some bad things that occurred as a result of some of his actions, there were more benefits to outweigh the bad stuff. Peter the Great was a leader that was eager to change the country in a quick way, he led the first westernization effort in history, and also expanded Russia.
    His eagerness to change and improve the country was a reckless move that if he had messed up, the whole country would have fell. Peter tried to make Russia to be like Western Europe in the quickest way possible. He changed the whole structure of Russia into a more Western style without actually being fully Western. The military was changed to be exactly like Western Europe, which created a trained fighting force that put down local militias. Peter the Great attempted to attack the Ottoman Empire but failed.
    The first westernization effort was led by Peter the Great. Peter made a lot of changes in Russia to somewhat seem more like Western Europe. Politically, he changed the structure to be like Western Europe. Instead of urbanizing and developing a big commercial class, Peter focused on the mining industry. He eliminated the practice of upper-class marriages where the father of the bride gives a whip to the groom which showed the male power over women. On the other hand, nothing was changed among all the peasants. To attempt to remove Russian traditions, he made all males shave off their beards and require them to dress in a specific way.
    He expanded Russia through a great number of wars. In the Great Northern War, his military won and defeated Sweden. At first, it seemed like Peter the Great was going to lose to Sweden, but Charles XII made a huge mistake that would cost him. After signing the Treaty of Nystadt, Russia gained most of Finland and had access to warm waters in the north. With the expansion, Russia become a major power in Northeastern Europe.
    Though some people may think that Peter was a bad ruler, we have to admit that without him, Russia wouldn't be as successful as it is now. By completely changing the whole structure to be like Western Europe, I believe that it helped improve Russia. The extremely quick ways he used to improve Russia actually worked though many people criticize him for acting so riskily. Peter the Great was beneficial to Russia in more ways then it was harmful.

Ivan the Terrible Mariana A.-Z.

        Born on August 25, 1530 in Moscow, Ivan the Terrible was born royalty. When he was three his father passed away and he immediatly became the ruler of Russia. He of course was to young to be taking over so much. His mother who passed away five years after his father had, was a regent. At the age of 17 he became the ruler of Russia. He was responsible for destroying entire cities, leaving every single person dead. People who were unfortunate enough to be his enemy were tortured, and even some of the people who considered themselves friends of Ivan were tortured. Ivan went so far as to murder his own son, who was also named Ivan. Ivan the Terrible was the first ruler of Russia. During his reign, however, Russia conquered the land of Siberia, and his desire to conquer land transformed Russia into a large and powerful nation. 

Catherine the Great by Kristina M., 2/18/11

    Russia onlt had two good leaders Catherine being one of them. Peter the Great was the only other one, Catherine was married to the nephew, the only problem was the nephew was "retarted." Catherine then took over, she was a Prussian princess, she was a centralizer adovacting a strong tsavst, and she pressed Russan's intrest on Europe.
    Catherine the second was born a Prussian princess, then converted to the orhtadox faith after her marriage to the Russan throne. Catherine's marriage life to Peter III was miserable, maker her even hate her son, Isac Paul I. After careful planning, Catherine succeed in removing her husband from the throne. The people soon after instaled Catherine The Great as the new empress of Rome in 1792. 
    Catherine, like Peter I, diliked tasrists. Though through this adovate  of a strong tsarist have Catherine gave new powers to nobilty. This maintained a trade-off that had been developing over the previouvs two centuries in Russia. People of Russia also accepted their new ranks that chosen by the tsars, though in returned much actual adminstration over local peasents was wieled by the noble landlords. 
    Lastly Catherine the Great pressed Russa's intrest into Europe, playing powers over Prussia and Austria, without risking major wars. Catherine also increased Russians interference onto Polish affairs. Catherine had no trouble in interfering in Polish affairs because of the Polish last leader was not good,a nd paralyzed goverment. During 1795 Poland wa eliminated as an independent state.
    When Catherine's death came, Russia had passed through three centuries of extraordinary development. This made Catherine as one of the most fansanating women leaders in history. Though her great rein of improving Russia, she became counted as one of the only good or great leaders of Russia. Not steping the improvment or decreasing it but bringing it forward in huge amounts.
Expansion of Russia, 1450-1750; M. Dale
    Russia began the age of exploration as a small, shattered state, tributary to the Mongol Horde. Once they had overthrown and kicked the Mongols out, they began a period of territorial expansion and governmental reform. This also led to the rapid westernization of Russia, as they tried to catch up to their European counterparts. The Russia people, as they entered this period, started to understand WHAT it was that they had been missing out on, and once they discovered how to obtain it, they didn't look back as they pushed forward with govnerment, styles, culture, and state expansion.
     First, Ivan 3. Why a leader, you may ask. The answer is that he essentially started Russia's era of territorial expansion.  To do this, he had convinced the Orthodoxial church that Russian expansion was 'right,' and proceeded with the brutal and bloody expansion of Russia's total land mass. During this time, Ivan 3 also proclaimed Russia the 'Third Rome,' and unified the Russian people under that title.  
     After Ivan 3 came Ivan 4, better known as Ivan the Terrible. Ivan 4 was brutal to his enemies, and killed a great many people, including many Russians. but among all of that terror, he also defeated the Kazan Khanate, which had conquered Russia before, and which had been holding Russia back. Along with that, Ivan 4 also removed the Boyars, or Russian aristocrats. by doing this, he managed to further strengthen the central government of Russia. 
     Next came Peter the Great.  His great contibutions were that he strengthened Russia's army by offering better pay and instilling a draft, building and rebuilding Russia's infrastructure, and expanded Russia's total territory all the way to the Baltic Sea, where he was stopped by the Ottoman Empire. He also relocated the capital of Russia from Moscow to St. Petersburg. this movement was necessary as it helped separate the Russian government from the old religious and and cultural conditions that governed the old Russian government. By instilling all of these changes, Peter the Great effectively made Russia one of the strongest empires in Eastern Europe, and in most of Asia, and also turning Russia from a backwater to a modern imperial power, independant from any other nation. 
     These 3 rulers had the greatest effect on the expansion and strengthening of Russia through the use of military force, economic and social reforms, and the installation of an almost completely new form of government. These changes greatly effected the way modern Russia runs and operates, and also influenced the people of Russia by giving them new hope, freeing them from rule by another nation, and giving them a banner to unify under. Ivan 3 began the expansion and westernization of Russia, and freed it from Mongol rule. Ivan the Terrible defeated the Mongol Horde, and got rid of the aristocrats that had been ruling Russian policy and government for a very long time. Peter the Great strengthened Russia's military and infrastructure, as well as free the government from the religious and cultural control that had encompassed it for some time.