Medieval and Early Modern Russia and Ukraine

Autumn Quarter 2004

Instructor: Daniel Waugh
Office: 103E Smith Hall
Office hours: MTW 11:30-1, and by appointment. Note: No scheduled office hours September 29 and December 6-7.
E-mail: dwaugh@u.washington.edu
Phone: 206-616-8408 (direct office phone, no message machine); 206-543-5790 (msg., History Dept.)
Mailbox: History Dept. Office, 315 Smith Hall

Class meetings:

M-Th., 10:30-11:20, Raitt 121
Friday Discussion Section, 11:30-12:20, Balmer 314
Note: The course is being offered conjointly with Russ 321. Both classes attend the same M-Th. lectures; 443 has a separate discussion section on Friday. Note also that HSTAM 443 and SISRE 443 are one and the same course. In many cases assignments may refer to the course only by "HSTAM 443" even though in all such cases you should understand that means as well SISRE 443.Students enrolled for both 321 and 443 are expected to attend the respective Friday sections for both classes.

Course web site: http://faculty.washington.edu/dwaugh/hstam443/04hstam443syl.html
Should you have bookmarked the course syllabus for Autumn 2003 prior to the beginning of this quarter, be sure to change your bookmark to the current Autumn 2004 version. If you wish to look at materials assigned for Russ 321 which may also be of interest to students in 443 (but not linked here), you can access them via the syllabus for 321. The password for the controlled section of the course web materials will be given out in class.

Subject and Goals

The subject of this course is primarily the history of "European Russia" and "Ukraine" from approximately the ninth century to ca. 1700. This is the area in eastern Europe bordered today on the west by the Baltic, Poland and the Carpathian Mountains, on the north by the White Sea, on the east by the Urals, and on the south by the Black Sea and the Caucasus. In another definition, the focus of the course is the world of the Orthodox East Slavs, although in fact we will meet many non-slavic and non-Orthodox peoples who are part of this history, among them Balts, Finns, and Turkic peoples. To a considerable degree, our approach is topical, focussing on particular themes or problems rather than emphasizing a purely narrative chronology. Among topics to be covered are:

One goal of the course is to help students acquire knowedge about important facts and issues regarding the early history of what by the end of our period becomes the Russian Empire. In many ways Russians and Ukrainians define their identities today by reference to their earlier history; so apart from its inherent interest, the subject matter has some "relevance" for understanding contemporary political and cultural discourse. A second, and perhaps more important goal of the course is to challenge its participants to develop critical thinking and writing skills, through assessment of controversial viewpoints and often opaque primary source material.

Since the lectures in the course will also be addressing the needs of students enrolled in Russian 321, whose subject is Literature and Culture of Early Rus, it is important to note that a substantial amount of the discussion and serious work for HSTAM 443 on issues of political, social and economic history must take place outside the classroom, on-line, and in the Friday discussion section specifically for this course. The lectures of necessity will be rather general, the writing assignments and discussion may be quite specific and often will focus on matters not treated in detail in lecture. Students must be willing to accept the challenge of doing on their own a lot of synthesis of often disparate materials. Some subjects being discussed in one week in Russian 321 sections may not be the focus of discussions for HSTAM 443 until a later week.

This is the 33rd year since this course was first taught and is presumably the final time it and the subject of "Early Russian History" will be offered at the University of Washington.


There are no prerequisites with regard to previous history courses or courses pertaining to Russia. However, students should have reading and analytical skills appropriate for upper division course work in social sciences and humanities. By this I mean: The course will offer the opportunity to improve such skills. Since this is an upper division course, students must come prepared to do a substantial amount of reading and writing on a regular basis throughout the quarter.

Graduate students taking the course will be expected to do some of the reading for their research papers in an appropriate foreign language. Undergraduates are not writing a research paper; the assigned readings for them are all in English. However, they are always encouraged to exercise relevant foreign language skills in reading material which may be relevant to the course.

All students must be able to access computer-based materials and have the means of communicating electronically. The reason for this is that many course materials will be available only on-line, and there is some required writing/discussion which will take place on-line. This requires:

Since some of the course materials may take a long time to down-load, it is important that there be access to high-speed transmission. If one does not have high-speed access from home, the alternative will be to use one of the computer labs on campus. For those uncertain of their computer skills, there are many courses and workshops offered through the libraries and computer labs on campus. Acquiring such skills will have wide application for other courses, employment, etc. and will be an excellent investment of time.

General Information about Course Requirements:

The required work for the course and its weight in the final grade are as follows for undergraduates (click on each item to bring up separate pages for details) :

For graduate students, the above requirements hold but with these exceptions: all four of the short papers (item 3) are required, and instead of writing a book review, there is

7. A short research paper.
Graduate students are expected to read all the posted book reviews and comment on them in the same fashion that undergraduates are required to do (i.e., comment on 6-8 of the total). In calculating the graduate student grades, the grade for the requirements other than the term paper will be weighted 80%, with the research paper weighted the other 20%.

There are a few simple rules regarding the requirements:

You should also be sure to read the "departmental policy statement" which can be accessed here.

For a summary Calendar of Important Dates, click here. You will note from the calendar that the course requires you keep up on reading and writing assignments on a regular basis, with virtually no break for the duration of the quarter. This means it is essential you plan your time carefully and not fall behind. In the case of an assignment such as the book review, you should not wait until the last minute when it is coming due but should try instead to post it earlier. As you know from experience, work in all your courses tends to pile up toward the end of each quarter and become almost impossible to finish if you fall behind. Should you find you are not keeping up, it is important you come talk with the instructor about strategies for coping before you get into a hopeless hole.

Students who wish additional help in writing papers should take advantage of the History or JSIS writing centers. For information on the former, click here. Students in JSIS are served through the Political Science writing center.

Required Books

The following books have been ordered at the University Bookstore and form part of the required readings:

Should you be able to obtain your own copy of the following two out-of-print books, do so:
Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard, The Emergence of Rus, 750-1200 (Longman PB; ISBN No. 058249091x)
Robert O. Crummey, The Formation of Muscovy, 1304-1613 (Longman PB; ISBN No. 0582491533).
The first of these is particularly important for the first three weeks of the course. Four copies of the book will be on overnight reserve in OUGL. You may be able to find copies used via Amazon.com or other on-line booksellers. You will find in the specific assignments below suggestions for alternatives to some of the material in Franklin and Shepard, but the overlap is only partial. Should you obtain Crummey (a copy of which is on 4-hour reserve), you may substitute him for Martin where indicated below--he is a better read; also, there are some sections of his book not covered in your other reading.

Those wishing a very quick overview/preview of the period of Russian History covered by this course may wish to read Gregory Freeze, ed., Russia: A History (Oxford, 1997; 2nd ed. 2002), Chs. 1-3. The first chapter is by the same Janet Martin who wrote the book you have purchased; the second section (written by Nancy Kollmann of Stanford) is arguably the best short treatment of all of Muscovite history to be found anywhere.

Some copies of Valerie Kivelson and Robert Greene, eds., Orthodox Russia (Penn State UP: 2003; ISBN 0271023503) have been ordered. Two or three of the essays are linked to the course website and are required; but you would benefit from reading some of the others.

Note that in some cases you will not be expected to read closely all of any given book--see the weekly assignments for details. Also, note that there are other very important required course materials, available via the course web site and linked through this syllabus.

Outline maps will be provided by the instructor for the map exercise.

Additional Resources:

Outlines and chronologies used in class lectures will be posted to the web site (accessible via the contents side bar). You will find there initially the outlines as used last year in the course which for the most part indicate the content of this year's classes too. Should there be any significant deviation, a new outline will be posted and dated.

Information on other resources including web-based material can also be accessed from the sidebar.

Schedule of Topics and Assignments:

Week I (Sept. 29-Oct. 1). Introduction to course; geography; peoples.

Note: On Friday, October 1, instead of having a discussion section, the class will meet in its regular lecture room (Raitt 121) at 10:30 for a lecture. If there is interest in then following that with a discussion at 11:30, Prof. Waugh can be available at that time in Balmer 314.

Readings (which anticipate in part next week as well and should be continued then): Of possible additional interest (recommended): Study Questions:

Week II (Oct. 4-8): Politics, Society and the Economy of Kievan Rus.


Study Questions:

First Paper Assignment (draft to be posted on Peer Review by end of day, Wednesday, October 6, and hard copy of it turned in at class discussion, Friday, October 10):

Historians have long argued over whether the state of the Rus prior to the Mongol invasion of the 13th century was primarily "agricultural" or based on trade. As part of your preparation for writing the paper, think about why such a question might have engendered vigorous dispute by modern scholars. To some extent, the answer may lie in political or ideological considerations pertinent to the nineteenth or twentieth centuries, but to some degree as well, the very nature of the primary sources is responsible. In your paper, you should argue your view of the socio-economic nature of Kievan Rus and support your argument with specific evidence from the primary sources. It is important to remember that change occurs over time; you need to address that issue in your analysis.

Week III (Oct. 11-15): Culture of Kievan Rus, I

Map quiz at beginning of class, Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Required Reading: Recommended reading: Study questions: Bring for discussion on Friday, Oct. 15, a 2-page (not-to-be graded) essay on the following:

To what extent do the surviving sources (archaeological, artistic, and written) inform us about the culture of the mass of the population in Kievan Rus? If, in fact, we seem to know little about the culture of the masses, then whose culture are we seeing in the sources? To what degree does that culture seem to have been influenced by Byzantium and to what degree does it appear that Byzantine culture was adapted to accomodate local tradition? Be sure to post some comments to EPost regarding these questions in advance of the class meeting.

Week IV (Oct. 18-22): Culture of Kievan Rus, II; Regional centers--Vladimir; the world of the Igor Tale

A take-home mid-term essay question will be handed out in section Oct. 15 and also posted to the website. Your mid-term question will undoubtedly require that you bring to bear material for the whole of the course through Week IV. The essay will be due in section, Friday, Oct. 22.

Reading: Study questions:

Class discussion on Friday, Oct. 22 will focus on your mid-term essays, which you turn in at that time.

Week V (Oct. 25-Oct. 29): Novgorod; the decline of Kiev and the advent of the Mongols.


For discussion on Friday, October 29, prepare a careful analysis of what the Novgorod and Pskov charters reveal about the political/administrative and social differences between those cities and what we know about cities in Kievan Rus. This means in part you need to go back and look at evidence in, e.g., Russkaia Pravda and the Church Statues. As you do this, think carefully about the dating of the Novgorod and Pskov texts. To what extent were Novgorod and Pskov different from other towns in Rus even from early times, and to what extent might one posit that they started in pretty much the same place and simply evolved differently?

Week VI (Nov. 1-5): The Mongol impact; the Emergence of Moscow .

Graduate Students must submit a prospectus and bibliography for their term papers by Monday, November 1.

Readings: Study questions:
  • One convenient calculus determined the impact of the Mongols on Russia by "subtracting" Kiev from Muscovy. What would be wrong with such an approach?
  • Standard textbooks often emphasize the Mongol impact as primarily destructive in economic and cultural terms (in regard to the latter for example, it is asserted that the Mongols cut Russia off from the West). What is wrong with such an emphasis?
  • Does Halperin's "Ideology of silence" discussion really make any sense in light of what the Russian sources do tell us about the impact of the Mongols?
  • Does Ostrowski prove his contentions about Muscovite institutional borrowing from the Mongols?
  • Is there a problem with the conventional periodization of Mongol rule in Russia?
  • Question for Essay Two (draft to be posted no later than 5 PM, Wednesday, Nov. 3, and hard copy of it turned in at class discussion, Friday, Nov. 5):

    Sources and historians' arguments about Mongol influence in Russia vary considerably in quality of information and persuasiveness. Using the reading you have done in both primary and secondary sources, develop a scheme for evaluating the quality of that material, and once you have "ranked" the individual items as to what they can and cannot reasonably be expected to tell us (and why), draw some conclusions as to what you think are the best documented and the least well documented impacts of the Mongols on Russia. You should keep in mind among other things the important fact that things were not static between the early 13th century and late 14th century--what may be true for one period may not be true for another. Furthermore, you may wish to comment on areas regarding which one might presume some kind of impact but for which we simply seem not to have adequate documentation.

    Week VII (Nov. 8-12; Thursday, Nov. 11 is a holiday, no class.): The political and cultural transformation of Muscovy, 14th-early 16th centuries.


    For discussion on Friday, November 12, bring to class a 2 pg. essay (which will be read but not formally graded--it does count toward participation), in which you explore how we might begin to discuss the phenomenon of "absolutism" in Muscovy and whether the times of Ivan III provide a reasonable starting point for examination of the subject. You will be needing to consider not only changes in administration (as evidenced, for example, in the Sudebnik of 1497) but also other aspects of political consolidation and symbolism in building programs, ideological statements (e.g., the Dracula Tale, if it is relevant), etc. While you have dealt last week with possible impact of the Mongols on political changes in Russia, you may also wish to revisit that topic.

    Week VIII (Nov. 15-19): Ivan IV: A Renaissance Prince?

    Required readings:


    Study questions:

    Question for Essay 3 (to be posted on Peer Review by 5 PM, Wednesday, November 17, and hard copy of it turned in at class on Friday, November 19):

    The reign of Tsar Ivan IV ("The Terrible"), 1533-1584, is often considered to be the epitome of Muscovite absolutism, during which the brutality of centralized royal authority, buttressed by new developments in political ideology, reached levels never before seen in Russia and never equalled in subsequent reigns. To a considerable degree, Ivan himself is credited with (blamed for?) these negative features of the Muscovite system. While you are not yet in a position to comment on what comes later, to what degree would you otherwise agree (or disagree) with such a depiction of Ivan and his reign? As with other questions you have considered in this course, be very careful to consider change over time and not to jump to conclusions on the basis of what may arguably be the exception rather than the rule or pertain to only part of a longer period.

    Weeks IX (Nov. 22-26; Nov. 25-26, Thanksgiving Holiday, no class) and X (Nov. 29-Dec. 3): Muscovy in crisis (?).

    Monday, Nov. 29, is the final day for posting the draft of your book review to the Peer Review website. Remember, part of this assignment is to comment on a reasonable number of reviews that have been posted by others. The comment period extends through this week.
    Graduate student papers and final version of book reviews (hard copy) due Friday, Dec. 10.

    Readings (also for next two weeks): Study questions:
  • Would there be any reason to establish a new periodization of Russian History, with a distinct break coming at the Time of Troubles?
  • To what degree could one say the policies of Ivan IV might have been responsible for the Time of Troubles?
  • Is there any really significant institutional change in Muscovy as a result of the Time of Troubles?
  • Can one reasonably argue that government policies contributed to Muscovy's being out of step with the rest of Europe economically by the end of the 17th century? Would it be valid to talk of Muscovite "economic backwardness," and if so, in what might that consist?
  • What was the role of government fiscal problems in the development of serfdom and the analogous tying down of the townspeople?
  • What would you consider to be the most important legacies of Muscovy to eighteenth-century Russia in the areas of politics and economics? (I ask this without any assumption that you should know much regarding Russia beyond approximately 1700, although in at least one arena, Owen offers some ideas.)
  • Paper 4: Note the scheduling for this paper is different from those for the other three. By 5 PM on Wednesday, December 1, post to Peer Review your essay draft, and turn in to Prof. Waugh the following Wednesday, December 8. Since he will be out of town at the normal discussion hour on Friday, December 3, we will not meet in section that day. Discussion and comment on your paper drafts will have to take place in the on-line Peer Review and EPost and can be continued, as appropriate on the last day of class when we have section (Dec. 10). On Friday, Dec. 3, you should attend the lecture discussion at 10:30 which will be focussing on the schism, Avvakum and issues of biography. The topic for essay 4 is:

    Are there theoretical approaches/models which may help us to understand Russia's political, social, and economic development from the late 16th to the end of the 17th centuries? In particular, if we look at various schemes about what is termed "modernization," does Russia seem to fit patterns observable elsewhere or differ in substantial ways. Explain using concrete examples.

    Week XI (Dec. 6-10) (Last class meeting is Dec. 10): Muscovite culture; the Schism; the advent of Peter "the Great."

    Required readings: Study Questions

    The discussion, Friday, Dec. 10 will use as its focus the take-home final exam essay question.

    All re-writes of the short essays which have not previously been handed in are due no later than 5 PM, Monday, December 6. Re-writes of the book reviews and graduate student term papers are due at discussion on Friday, December 10.

    The Final Exam essay question will be posted no later than Friday, December 3, and the final exam is due no later than 5:00 PM, Monday, December 13.