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Timeline of Russian history

Timeline of Russian history
This is a timeline of Russian history according to the historical sources we have read. We apologize if there are some minor mistakes. This is made for you to get to know Russia as a country with long and fascinating history, not for scientific purposes.




Varangian leader Rurik gained control of Ladoga and built the settlement in Novgorod.


Vladimir I, Prince of Kiev, converted Kievan Rus’ into Christianity.


Foundation of Moscow


Alexander Nevsky was summoned by the Novgorodians to become kniaz' (or prince) of Novgorod and, as their military leader, to defend their northwest lands from Swedish and German invaders


After the Swedish army landed at the confluence of rivers Izhora and Neva, Alexander Nevsky and his small army suddenly attacked the Swedes and defeated them. The Neva battle of 1240 saved Russia from a full-scale enemy invasion from the North

Mongols sacked Kiev and then invaded Russia


Prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow led a united Russian army to an important victory over the Mongols in the Battle of Kulikovo, however most of the country was still under Mongols till 1480


Vasili II succeeded his father Vasili I as Grand Prince of Moscow.


Ivan III succeeded his father Vasili II as Grand Prince of Moscow.


Ivan III finally broke the Russians free from Tatar control.


Ivan IV was crowned tsar with Monomakh's Cap at the Cathedral of Assumption at the age of sixteen.


The Khanate of Kazan was conquered by Tzar Ivan IV of Russia.


Russia annexed the Astrakhan Khanate


Ivan IV was succeeded by Feodor I of Russia


Boris Godunov became the first non-Rurik tsar of Russia


Time of trouble


Romanovs family comes to the throne. Michael I of Russia


Alexey I became a tsar


Feodor III succeeded Alexey I


Stepan Razin’s uprisings


Ivan V became a tsar, but soon was overthrown by Peter I


Peter the Great, a tsar of Russia


The Great Northern War


The Russian Academy of Sciences was founded in St. Petersburg by Peter the Great.


Peter was succeeded by his wife Catherine I.


The Empress Catherine was succeeded by Aleksey's son, Peter II.


The Moscow State University was established on January 12, 1755 by a decree of Russian Empress Elizabeth.


Catherine the Great reigns.


Russian-Turkish war


Emelyan Pugachev’s uprising


Napoleon invaded Russia.


The Decembrists revolt occurred.


The Crimean War. Fight between Russia, and the alliance of the United Kingdom, France, the Ottoman Empire. The war was epitomized by military incompetence on all sides. The war was an embarrassing defeat for Russia The Black Sea was made neutral ground, which prohibited warships, and any fortifications on its shores.


The reign of Alexander II began. Alexander is remembered as a reformer of Russia – albeit for the sake of Tsardom. His reign saw the Emancipation of the Serfs, the creation of the Zemstva, and various legal reforms.


The Caucasus was conquered, and Shamil, the leader of the north Caucasian resistance, was captured.


The Edict of Emancipation of the Serfs was issued. This act, in theory, granted the serfs full civil rights, freed them from their serf bindings to the land, gave them their own plots, and gave them the right to buy land from the landowners. They were to pay redemption fees


A University Statute was adopted, which primarily removed the restrictions on subjects such as philosophy. Students were also allowed to travel abroad, and no longer had to wear uniforms.


Zemstva were created. These were elected local government bodies (voting biased very much towards landowners and gentry), which had control over local education, health, and communications.

Provisions for primary and secondary education were established.


Cencorship was cancelled


Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (died on. January 21, 1924), as he is better known, was to become the future leader of the Bolshevik party, and leader of Communist Russia.


The League of Three Emperors was founded. This was an agreement, between Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia, that each would not support an enemy if one of them went to war with a fourth country.

The Narodniks ‘go to the people’. Involving some 3000 students and intellectuals, the Narodniks got a warm reception from the peasants. However, it alarmed the government, which arrested hundreds of those involved. It was a key to the frustration that led to more radical groups such as the Peoples’ Will


The Russian-Turkish war began


The Okhrana was established. Part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Okhrannoye otdeleniye were the secret police force of the Russian empire, dedicated to the security of the Tsar and his family. This prominently involved the infiltration of terrorist groups.

Alexander II was assassinated in the centre of St.Petersburg at Ekaterininsky canal embankment. The assassination of Alexander, a reformist tsar, by the Peoples’ Will, was counter-productive, in that it brought about intense policies of suppression and Russification.

The reign of Alexander III began. Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov ascended the throne at a time of crisis, and his response, throughout his reign, was that of a series of repressive measures, known as “the Reaction”.


The Reinsurance Treaty was signed. This was a secret treaty engineered by Otto von Bismarck to continue the alliance with Russia after the breakdown of the League of the Three Emperors. Russia pledged to remain neutral in the event of France attacking Germany; Germany pledged to remain neutral in the event of Austria attacking Russia, or the event of Russia intervening in the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.


The Franco-Russian Alliance was ratified. This agreement between France and Russia, resulting from Germany's decision not to renew the Reinsurance Treaty, promised mutual military assistance if either country was attacked.


Alexander III died. Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov acceeded as Nicholas II took the throne. The future, and last, Tsar of Russia proved unable to keep the old régime standing. His reign was characterized by stubbornness in maintaining absolute rule, and an ineptitude as a conciliator to increasing resistance.


The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDRP) was founded. Uniting the various socialist revolutionary organisations into one party, the RSDRP was the group that would later split into the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.


Bobrikov became Governor-General of Finland. Appointed by Nicholas II, Bobrikov was hated by the Finnish population, as he considered Finland still a foreign threat to Russia.


Vyacheslav von Plehve became Minister of the Interior. Plehve was harsh, and deeply conservative, and is credited with the destruction of numerous revolutionary groups. He attempted conciliation with the Zemstva, but later turned to repression


The Trans-Siberian railway was completed. The construction of the railway, begun in 1891, the ‘prestige’ project of Sergei Witte, stretched from Moscow to Vladivostok. It was intended to connect remoter regions with the west, and thus encourage migration of workers and expansion of industry to the east.


The Bolsheviks and Mensheviks formed. The split in the Social Democrats at their Second Congress essentially formed two separate parties. The Bolsheviks (‘majoritists’) under Lenin wanted a smaller, tighter, party, and were to take power in the October 1917 coup. The Mensheviks (‘minoritists’), under Julius Martov, wanted a party with an open membership.


Plehve was assassinated


The Russian-Japanese War began. Originating in a desire to distract from Russia’s internal troubles, decline in Western Russia, and the need for a complete ice-free port, the war on the side of Russia is sobering in terms of its military incompetence on behalf of its commanders.


Port Arthur finally fell to the Japanese after a series of brutal, high-casualty assaults. The war ended within a few months


The Bloody Sunday massacre occurred. Peaceful demonstrators, led by Father Gapon, presenting a petition to Nicholas II at the Winter Palace, were viewed as a threat by the regime. Soldiers fired upon them, having killed several thousand people. This day is considered to be the beginning of the first revolution in Russia.


The October Manifesto was issued in the chaos of the 1905 revolution by Nicholas II under the influence of Sergei Witte. The manifesto promised to grant: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, a bicameral parliament, broad participation in the Duma, and that no law could be issued without its consent.


The first Duma was called. The Fundamental Laws were issued on the eve of the opening of the first Duma. These declared the autocracy of the Tsar, including his supremacy over the Law, the Church, and the Duma. The first Duma ended just three months later.


Stolypin was appointed as prime minister. His reforms include:

Was assasinated in 1911 in the theatre.


The Triple Entente was established. The alliance of Russia, France, and the United Kingdom was born from the Frehch-Russian Alliance and the Entente Cordiale. The alignment was a counterweight to the Triple Alliance. It decided main alliances taken during WWI.


The Second Duma began. The Kadet party dropped seats, benefiting the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party and Social Revolutionary Party. The political right increased, leading to internal dispute as well as dispute with the government. The duma was dissolved three months later after criticism of the government’s administration of the army.


The fifth Party Congress began. During this, there was a failed attempt by the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks to reconcile their differences.


A new electoral law was issued. This greatly restricted the right to vote, effectively to the propertied classes. Only one in six of the male population were entitled to vote.


The Third Duma began. The third duma was dominated by right wing parties after the government’s doctoring of the electoral system. Stolypin was able to develop relations with this duma to pursue his land reforms. The duma did have the right to question ministers and discuss state finances.This Duma was the longest so far – untill 1912.


The Fourth Duma began. After the assassination of Stolypin, subsequent ministers were unimaginative in their solutions, resorting to repression. ‘Political’ strikes rose from 24 in 1911 to 2,401 in 1914. This duma was notable for frequent criticism of policy, and work in education and in state insurance.


World War I began. Due to Russia’s consistent poor performance, the war was arguably a catalyst for the revolution of 1917.


Nicholas II assumed command of the army. Nicholas’ leadership of the military correlated with successful campaigns in the Carpathian mountain range under Brusilov, though his influence was insignificant, and disastrous for politics at home.


Over the next three months, Russia lost possession of Poland.


Rasputin was murdered. During WWI, Rasputin and the Tsarina Alexandra had been the two effectual powers. His assassination by Prince Felix Yussupov and associates was the culmination of resentment towards his power over Alexandra, and an attempt to save the monarchy.


There was a rising in Petrograd. This is considered to be the second Russian Revolution.


The Petrograd Soviet was formed.


A Provisional Government was set up. The government promised the full range of civil rights, and came in a period of celebration. However, it was another government in addition to the Soviet, and it was to become a symbol of the right as the Soviet moved to the left.


The Petrograd Soviet issued Order No. 1. This instructed soldiers to “elect committees in units, at company level and above, to take charge of all aspects of military life except actual combat.” The mood of the soldiers was transformed, and the Order undermined the soldier’s patriotism.


Nicholas II abdicated “in order to restore internal peace for the sake of the war effort,” and offered the throne to his brother, the Grand Duke Mikhail. Mikhail declined it, ending the Romanov autocracy.


Lenin issued the April Theses immediately after his return to Russia from Zurich. They were controversial even within the party. They demanded an immediate end to the war, the confiscation of private land, the destruction of the bureaucracy, the army, and the police, and the cession of all state power to the workers’ soviets.


The first All-Russian Congress of Soviets was held


The Ukrainian Rada proclaimed the autonomy of Ukraine.


An attempt to over throw the government was made in July, which failed. Badly planned, it ended with the arrest of leading Bolsheviks.


Kerensky became prime minister


The Sixth Party Congress began.


The Kornilov coup, a supposed right-wing attempt to undermine the revolution by a former tsarist chief of staff, took place. It failed when railway workers refused to transport Kornilov’s men to Petrograd. Its main importance is in the chance it gave the Bolsheviks, who were on the brink of collapse after the failed July coup, to defend the government.


The second All-Russian Congress of Soviets took place. This consisted of 649 elected delegates, 390 of which were Bolshevik. The Left SRs had formed from dissatisfied members of the SRs; remaining SRs and Mensheviks, walked out. Power was seized similarly elsewhere where possible; where not, MRCs coerced the Soviet.


The October revolution started, a Bolshevik coup, took strategic points in the city - including government facilities - and eventually assaulted the Winter Palace.


The Decrees on Peace and Land were issued


Finland declared independence.


The CheKa (Cherizvichayniy Komitet) was set up. This was the first of many Soviet secret police organizations. Headed by Felix Dzerzhinsky, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counter-Revolution and Sabotage was eventually merged into the GPU, a section of the NKVD.


The Russian Civil War began. Fight between the “Reds” – the Bolsheviks and their supporters – and the “Whites” – a motley group of monarchists, conservatives, liberals and socialists – the civil war was fought on three main fronts: the south against General Denikin, the east against General Kolchak, and the northeast against General Yudenich.


Ukraine declared independence.


A decree On the Separation of Church and State was issued. This decree passed measures to expropriate all ecclesiastical land and property, and to strip religious associations of their juridical status.


Russia switched to the New Style Gregorian calendar.

NB. all dates hereafter are given in the New Style (Gregorian) calendar


The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed between Bolshevist Russia and the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. The treaty marked Russia's final withdrawal from World War I. The terms were humiliating for Russia as an empire, but the treaty was crucial to the Bolsheviks in order to divert forces and give concession. The terms were largely reversed in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact


The Seventh Party Congress began. The party became the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks).


Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia declared independence.


Anti-Bolshevik governments set up in Samara and Omsk.


The Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets ratified the first Soviet constitution.


The Romanovs were assassinated. Tsar Nicholas II and his family, including the gravely ill Tsarevich Alexei Nicolaievich and several family servants, were executed by firing squad in the basement of the Ipatiev House, in Ekaterinburg, where they had been imprisoned by Bolsheviks


World War I ended.


The First Congress of the Comintern took place. The Communist International was intended to fight "by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the State".


Soviet power was installed in Azerbaijan.


The Russian-Polish War began with the battle of Warsaw in April. During this and the next two months, the Red Army repelled the Poles, invaded Poland, and tried unsuccessfully to capture Warsaw. A Polish-Soviet armistice was signed in October.


Soviet power was installed in Armenia.


The Central Committee issued its directive on Proletkult. The Proletarian Culture movement’s object was “to educate a tier of ‘conscious proletarian socialists’, a sort of working-class intelligentsia, who would then spread their knowledge to other workers and thereby ensure that the revolutionary movement created its own cultural revolution.”


The Russian Civil War ended.


The Volga basin famine began. Peasants had been seeding less land due to requisitioning. During this Russian drought, hunger was so severe that ‘seed grain’ for the next year’s harvest was eaten. As many as five million may have died.


Soviet power was installed in Georgia.


General strikes began in Petrograd and Moscow. Factories were closing due to lack of raw materials, leading to workers’ protests; when protests were sacked, many more went on strike. They stated their aims as "overthrow of the Bolshevik dictatorship, free elections to the soviets, freedom of speech, press and assembly for all, and the release of political prisoners."


Gosplan was created. This was, initially under the name "RSFSR State Planning Commission", the committee for economic planning. It initially had an advisory role, but during the Five Year Plans it took central stage.


The New Economic Policy was introduced. A relaxation of bans on trade, this had elements of capitalism, and was necessary to restart the economy. The ‘ban on factions’ within the party was also introduced.


Foundation of the USSR according to the treaty. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics consisted of a union of the Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Trans-Caucasian Soviet republics. Successive republics were formed by separate amendments to the treaty.


The Scissor crisis took place. The New Economic Policy was improving agricultural production faster than it was in the industrial sector. It all was leading to a disparity in prices. The peasants’ income fell, they could not buy manufactured industrial goods, and as a result, they fell into the pattern of subsistence.


Lenin died. The city of Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honour


The League of Godless was founded. This was set up with its own journal, broadsheets, and agitational material, aiming to portray the church as oppressive and exploitative. From 1929, it was known as the League of Militant Godless.


The New Family Code was issued. A new decree on family restricted abortion and divorce.


Stalin consolidates his power at the Fifteenth Party Congress


The First Five Year Plan was introduced with the aim of making Russia militarily and industrially self-sufficient.


Trotsky was exiled from the USSR.


Forced collectivization of agriculture (people had to enter kolhoz and work there almost for free) became government policy.


The GULAG system was established. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country were falsely accused by different reasons (mainly named as “an enemy of the public”)  and got imprisoned in GULAGs - isolated camps very much alike with prisons.


Internal passports and propiska were introduced.


The Second Five Year Plan began




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