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Author Topic: 4 reasons why Russian history is so much fun
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So since my son is from Russia I'm reading a few books on Russian History. I love it.

When you are asked what do you know about Russian History I bet you start at WWI. There were some Tsars--which were like really autocratic king/emperors who got stuck in WWI and lost. This lead to the Soviets taking over. We've got Stalin, WWII, and the Cold War, oh and the mess that's existed since.

But when I am talking Russian History, I mean the old stuff.

Some of you may be thinking, "oh, Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, and Catherine the Great with her horse loving ways."

But I've found other things that are fun.

1) Vikings. The blondes who beat up on England, put the Normans in Normandy and put the darkest dark in the dark ages, are the ones who created Russia. They used a few usefully large rivers as roads to get from poor and cold muscle bound Scandinavia to rich and wealthy and mercenary-hiring Constantinople. Along the way some stopped and stayed, or left a few kids in passing through quaint little river villages. These Viking outposts are known today as Kiev, Moscow, and others.

2) Mongols. At one point it seemed that Gehngis Khan was happy just conquering their historical enemy, China. It was the wealthiest and greatest empire of the day--so a fitting task to conquer for any would be khan.

On a side note he sent a trading expedition to a town on the border between China and what would become the Russian steppes. The expedition brought lots of presents and asked permission to trade. The town laughed at these barbarians with their horses and their wanting to trade on even terms. In fact, they killed most of the delegates and took all the treasure.

Ghengis was not happy. He sent a few of his hordes to the west, and all of Russia spent several hundred years as a Mongolian puppet state--paying tons of tribute to what became known as the "Golden Horde."

3)Nogays. After the Golden Horde broke up, several smaller Hordes of nomadic Mongolian based tribes filled the steppes. Each had to be bribed, fought, and or somehow subdued. There were the Great Horde, the Crimerians, the Astrakhans, Kazahns and Kahzaks. There were also the Nogays. It may be politically incorrect of me to admit this, but the name makes me giggle.

4) Cossacks. Not the Kazaks which are the basis for present day Kazakstan, but Cossacks.

What is a Cossack. Imagine Pirates of the grasslands. Add in one part Robin Hood, three parts Viking Raider, the Underground Railroad, libertarians, the Seminole Indians and the Apache Indians, and stir them all together with a Mongolian Horde and you begin to get the picture.

The horde law was quite simple, as was Viking law. If you broke it sufficiently you were an Out-law, meaning that you were considered a non-person and anything done to you was fine. Obviously such people did not like being the victims of everyone else so they banded together when they could. Bandit groups banded together to make bigger groups. Bigger groups banded together to take over fortresses, build defenses, and basically control whole territories.

Think, how bad would you have to be to be kicked out of a horde for bad behavior. These were the nice people who made of the Cossacks.

Oh, them and escaped peasants, slaves, bandits, or anyone else wanting to live free. By law, no one who made it to the Cossacks could be forced to return home, or punished for previous crimes.

Freedom was a strong word in the Don (the name of a Cossack community). You could do anything you wanted in a Don as long as you had the money. Money, however, was not made from farming. Money was not made from hunting or raising cattle or fishing. Money was only to be made the old fashioned way--pillaging and raiding everyone you could.

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Dr Strangelove
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One of my best friends who I share an office with is a Russian historian who constantly regales me with stories of why Russian history is the best. I usually counter with French history, but I'll admit it, sometimes he stumps me [Smile] .
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Blayne Bradley

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I like how Cossack culture has made a comeback in Russia and the Ukraine and given the ability to form their own police force and such.

The actual history of some of the more famous Tsars like Ivan and Peter is fascinating due to how bad ass they tended to be in person. Ivan had possibly the largest library in Europe at the time, Peter would actually visit nobles who refused to shave their beards personally holding an axe to shave them himself!

What saddens me is just how much Russia lost out in WWI; they had 171 million people, 171 million! Russia today has like 30 million less! Had they not entered the war or somehow managed to win quickly it would've translated to serious economic potential; they're growth rate prior to 1914 was indicative of this.

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The Genuine
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There's also the very cute Roza Shanina.
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Member # 8376

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I took Russian History in high school, and while initially it kinda bored me I found myself really liking it after some time. As for Peter the Great and his bearding stories, the only one I'd hear is that if you showed up in Kiev with a beard, the guards at the gates would hold you down and pull your hairs out one by one.

I think a few decades ago during the cold war a lot of young history and political science students got degrees and doctorates in Russian history as it was probably considered relevant for dealing with Russia then. Asian studies are similarly pushed these days, but Russian history really is quite rich and interesting.

My same teacher says he met Alexander Kerensky in a park in New York when he was just a boy.

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