Download A People Born to Slavery: Russia in Early Modern European by Marshall T. Poe PDF

By Marshall T. Poe

Many american citizens and Europeans have for hundreds of years seen Russia as a despotic nation within which individuals are vulnerable to simply accept anguish and oppression. What are the origins of this stereotype of Russia as a society essentially except countries within the West, and the way actual is it? within the first ebook dedicated to answering those questions, Marshall T. Poe strains the roots of cutting-edge belief of Russia and its humans to the eyewitness descriptions of 16th- and seventeenth-century eu tourists. His attention-grabbing account―the such a lot whole assessment of early glossy ecu writings approximately Russia ever undertaken―explores how just like "Russian tyranny" took carry within the well known mind's eye and finally grew to become the foundation for the inspiration of "Oriental Despotism" first set forth via Montesquieu. Poe, the preeminent student of those worthwhile basic assets, conscientiously assesses their reliability. He argues convincingly that even supposing the foreigners exaggerated the measure of Russian "slavery," they correctly defined their encounters and properly concluded that the political tradition of Muscovite autocracy used to be not like that of eu kingship. together with his findings, Poe demanding situations the suggestion that each one Europeans projected their very own fantasies onto Russia. as a substitute, his facts means that many early tourists produced, in essence, trustworthy ethnographies, now not works of unique "Orientalism."

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Example text

He served for many years as a high official in Constance, and in 1521 was called by Ferdinand to serve as councilor in Tübingen, where he devoted most of his time and effort to fighting the Lutheran heresy. Fabri would finally be rewarded for his efforts by being appointed bishop of Vienna. Like Campensé and Giovio, Fabri was interested in Muscovy only insofar as it might serve to strengthen the Catholic cause against the Lutherans and Turks. Fabri’s description of the grand prince’s realm was every bit as idealized as Campensé’s.

He completed the work before 1504, but it was not published until 1519. Krantz, who had served in Livonia, pays special attention to the Baltic littoral. It is in this connection that we find several brief relations about Muscovy, all focused on Russian aggression in the region. Krantz recalls that Ivan III plundered Novgorod in 1487, exiling and killing many of its citizens. 54 The picture is brief but clear—Ivan III is a tyrant, and a danger to both the League and the Livonian Order. As news about the Russians spread west, German cosmographers deeper in the Empire became interested in the realm of the grand prince.

Without the benefit of direct observation, they were compelled to rely on passing conversations with visiting Russians, the tales told by the few Europeans who had seen Muscovy with their own eyes, and the meager literature on the realm of the grand prince. Given the paucity of their sources, it is no wonder that they could not agree on any general characterization of Russian life. More than simple ignorance, however, skewed their descriptions in all directions. Among the early ethnographers, one can see obvious preconceptions of a political nature at work.

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