Between the 17th century and the 1917 revolution, the Russian Tsars became absolute rulers of the largest and most diverse empire in the world. The splendour of their court and their capital city, St Petersburg, was extraordinary, but the imperial edifice was supported by the toil of millions of serfs tied to the land. This empire of contradictions – so powerful but so backward – was to have a profound influence on both Europe and Asia.
Peter Waldron tells the stories of all the Russians, exploring how the vastness of the empire and its extremes of climate affected the lives of rulers and peasants alike. He examines the great flowering of Russian art, literature and music, the pressures for and against reform, and finally the fall of the Tsarist regime in a cataclysm of violence.
Exclusive to this series, is a set of loose-leaf facsimile documents, among them a letter from Peter the Great, an excerpt from Catherine the Great’s charter to the nobility, and the announcement of Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication in 1917.