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

By Marshall T. Poe

Many american citizens and Europeans have for hundreds of years seen Russia as a despotic state during which individuals are prone to just accept soreness and oppression. What are the origins of this stereotype of Russia as a society essentially except international locations within the West, and the way exact is it? within the first e-book dedicated to answering those questions, Marshall T. Poe strains the roots of trendy belief of Russia and its humans to the eyewitness descriptions of 16th- and seventeenth-century eu tourists. His interesting account―the such a lot entire overview 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 at last grew to become the foundation for the concept of "Oriental Despotism" first set forth via Montesquieu. Poe, the preeminent pupil of those worthwhile basic assets, rigorously assesses their reliability. He argues convincingly that even supposing the foreigners exaggerated the measure of Russian "slavery," they properly defined their encounters and properly concluded that the political tradition of Muscovite autocracy was once not like that of eu kingship. together with his findings, Poe demanding situations the thought that every 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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Additional resources for A People Born to Slavery: Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476-1748

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66 Franck (1534), 30. 01B-C1217 11/17/00 12:01 PM Page 33 Terra Incognita 33 ples of despotic feudalism, he seemed to say, might be found only in Turkey and Muscovy. Significantly, Franck added the notion of slavery to this analysis. The Muscovite grand duke is a dominus in his realm. He rules both the lives and property of his subjects, who are here figured as slaves. Why Franck chose this interpretive route is difficult to guess. 67 It is also possible that his alteration of Pirckheimer’s text was motivated by empirical considerations.

Muscovy. Sebastian Münster, Cosmographia (Basel, 1544). with accompanying woodcuts and a map (see fig. 2). It is for the most part based on Maciej z Miechowa and Giovio, both of whom are cited. To these sources Münster adds two more: Ivan Liatskii (“Johannes Latzki”), a Muscovite official who had fled the grand prince’s court after the death of Vasilii III; and Anton Weid (“Anthonius Weid”), a Lithuanian artist in Polish service. Actually the two sources are in a sense one: Liatskii provided Weid with information he needed to draft a map of Muscovy, which in turn Münster reproduced in Cosmography.

Since the 1450s, Muscovy and Milan had carried on negotiations over various matters, including the advance of the Turks, the recruitment of craftsmen, and the marriage of Ivan III to Sophia. Yet the Milanese knew very little about the Russians. 19 The product of Trakhaniot’s discussions with the Italian officers was a short relazione about Muscovy. 20 Trakhaniot’s comments were, as one might imagine, very positive. According to the Russian diplomat, Muscovy was a large, well-populated, and prosperous kingdom.

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