Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 34 стр.



name of Kurzma Minin organized an army to march on Moscow and Hermogen who
has bad meanwhile been arrested, spreads opposition from prison. The Cossacks are
organized by Prince Trubetskoy and Zarutsky.
A large, though scattered, militia is thus organized to free Russia from the
Polish intruders. While Moscow is being attacked the Second Pretender, having lost
most of his following, is murdered. But the city of Novgorod, always going its own
way, severs all ties with Moscow and submits to Swedish suzerainty. But a Polish
army manages to storm and take Smolensk, while Rome and Poland celebrate the
Polish-Catholic victory. Liapunov fails, but Minin and a new hero by name of
Pozharsky organize a militia which marches on Moscow, where the Cossacks have
already taken control of a large portion of the city. Two armies under Pozharsky and
the Cossacks under Zarutsky are able to defeat a Polish relief army which is sent to
hold Moscow. By December 1612 the Poles are completely routed and Russia is once
again free of foreign control, although the situation is still faced with the difficult
problem of securing a new tsar.
A Revolution that Restored the Past
So in conclusion we might ask what the significance of this time of trouble
really was. Some have insisted that these events constituted a kind of social
revolution in Russia. If it was a revolution, it was certainly an abortive one, that
achieved very little in the way of substantive social change. The masses were
awakened and moved to take joint action; dynasties were changed; there was foreign
occupation; there was desolation, hatred, and impoverishment. Yet not a single
constructive political idea came out of it all. Energies were expanded to restore the
past, not to bring about social change. Muscovite absolutism emerged unscathed from
these primitive conflicts and disorders.
The only important change was the final breakdown of the ancient princely and
boyar families, a process which had already started during the unification and the
oprichnina. The successors to the power of the ancient aristocracy were the dvoriane
who owed their new wealth and influence to the sovereigns pleasure. This new
aristocracy followed the example of the old. What we have here is a mere change of
personalities rather than a remodeling of the social structure. The church retained its
estates and privileges, as one could have expected.
Serfdom was rejuvenated and officially accepted. In fact it was stronger than
before and became the very foundation of the Muscovite state. The foreigners merely
stimulated chauvinism and the fear to depart from tradition. The Cossacks, the mass
of peasants and slaves gain nothing from this movement which they had mainly
generated. A small minority of Cossacks were allowed to form military,
semiautonomous communities and the masses of slaves and serfs were returned to
their masters.
The reasons for the failure of this so-called revolution are obvious enough: the
anarchistic character of the movement, the inability of the leaders to keep it under the
control, the lack of revolutionary vision and the deep-rooted tradition of passive