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Moscow History

Moscow’s roots begin in the 12th century around 1147. The city has been destroyed several times following either invasions, by the Mongols for example, or uprisings. In 1610 during the Time of Troubles Moscow was overtaken by Polish forces, but a prince and lowly butcher led a revolt that reclaimed the city for Russia. Shortly after that, the Romanov’s began their rule in Moscow that lasted until 1917. During that time the city saw great growth. The split

between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church also happened during the Romanov’s rule.

Peter the Great came to power in 1682 as a 10-year-old and changed Russia, and Moscow, forever. During his life he helped Russia become a world power by founding a navy. He also toured throughout Europe to meet other rulers and find a way to modernize Russia in a more European way. Russians were told to dress like Europeans. Foreigners were encouraged to move to Moscow. Peter pumped money into the military and sincerely wanted Russia to be the greatest country in the world.

Peter’s efforts were successful, although his methods have sometimes been called ruthless. He had to quell a rebellion among the Kremlin guards and had several people brutally executed on Red Square.

In 1812 Napoleon invaded Moscow and actually took control of the nearly evacuated city. Russian forces fought the famous battle of Borodino to defend the city. The bloody affair left more than 70,000 soldiers dead. The Russians were forced to retreat but lit Moscow aflame as they ran. When the French took control of the burning city they had to flee nearly immediately. Their trek back to Paris through the bitter Russian winter proved fatal for Napolean’s attempt to invade Russia.

Two revolutions, the first in 1905 and the second in 1917, helped spur Soviet rule into the Duma. Slaves, called serfs, were emancipated and tsarist rule ended and the Bolsheviks took control. Vladimir Lenin led the revolution and was hailed as a leading revolutionary thinker. When Lenin died in 1924, Joseph Stalin slowly took control of the city and the country. Over his watch Moscow flourished. Lavish monuments and buildings were built and in 1931 construction on the Metro began. Outside the city was another story. Stalin’s communal farming plans were disastrous for peasants, leading to millions of deaths during famines and shortages.

Soviet rule lasted until Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin’s power struggle capped growing unrest in 1991. Worker’s strikes and demonstrations eerily similar to the 1917 protests sparked the change. The current president, Vladimir Putin, has earned popularity among voters, and is undeniably steering Russia toward its next step, whatever that is, in its long history.

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