Russia's Foreign Relations (1450-1750)by Rit Nosotro
Discuss Russia's interactions with the west in general in comparison to Russia's interactions with the Mughal India. (1450-1750)
Russia’s relationships with other countries, especially with Western Europe helped it to develop into a successful nation.
Relationships are as important to a nation as it is to a person. Russia’s interactions with Mughal India and Western Europe molded Russia into what it is today. Particularly under Peter the Great, Russia pursued the same technological and cultural standards as the Europeans had obtained. Russia’s interactions with Europe also included the invasion of Sweden and the Seven Years War. Relations with Mughal India was mostly limited to warfare and a blending of shared cultures along the borders.
“Relationships, relationships”, the key to having a prosperous
and successful nation or so it's been said. Everyone is quite aware of
how important interactions between nations are whether they end up being positive
or negative. Even Bible nations found themselves being connected by common goals
and situations. For example the Egyptians and Israelites in Exodus, even though
there relationship was not a very friendly one it is a historical look at interactions
between nations. There is always a reason for interaction taking place between
nations, whether commercial, cultural, or some other reason they happen all
the time. When a large country like Russia expands its borders and relations
in the world, many different countries will find themselves with an opportunity
of being connected in some way to Russian history. Russia has had important
interactions and relations with both Mughal India and the West. An interesting
time to focus in on this relationship is between 1450 and 1750 when a lot was
going on in the world. Like it was previously stated interactions are not always
friendly but they are always important, as are relationships. In taking a look
at Russia’s foreign relations one can learn how important friendship or
simple furthering of one’s own interest truly is to Russia.
Not that any relationship can really be characterized as general. However, the overall relationship of Russia and Mughal India would have been one of cultural and commercial interaction.1 Russia and Mughal India found themselves in a similar situation, they both had no real merchant fleet in the 1600’s. Although India did have quite a lot of internal trade going on.2 They were also two very different countries; Russia had population ten times smaller than that of India.3 However, India unlike Russia found itself under the rule or at least part rule of Mughal rulers who had invaded India and were controlling parts of the country. This “invasion” played a role in the type of relationship that Russia and India were initially able to have since of course India was not completely India. Due to the overall threat that Mughal India presented itself to be, some type of diplomatic relations needed to be established and it was the Papacy that established these.4 Mughal India was a warring country and the type of early interaction as well as relationship that was shared between these countries would have been one with a fair amount of tension.
There are many different motivations that bring nations together. Relationships are an important part of the way in which today’s world functions and they were equally valuable in the earlier days of Russia. Russia considered its relationship with the West to be an important one. It is a relationship that has caught the eye of many a historian and one that continues to garner much attention. Leader’s in Russia like Peter the Great saw this connection to be not only valuable but necessary. Peter wanted Russia to be able to reach the same technological and cultural standards of other Western nations at the time. By creating changes in fashion, social roles, architecture, and the very location of the capital city Peter felt like he was giving Russia a new westernized standard.1 Peter was not the only ruler in Russia interested in maintaining a relationship with the West. His immediate successors found themselves unable to meet up to the standards before them and it was not until Catherine the Great took the throne in 1762 that Russia once again found the value of its Western relations. Under her reign Europeans found themselves settling in Russia due to the blooming culture that existed throughout her reign.5 Future interactions between Russia and the West would prove the new found desire Russia had gained to become a westernized country.
War, was a shared passion of Peter the Great and the Mughal’s in India so it is not surprising that there was some type of interaction that took place between Russia and Mughal India. Russia experienced attacks from Mughal India along with the rest of Eastern Europe, China, and other Middle Eastern nations on the Fertile crescent.6 In comparison to its relations with the West, Russia’s interaction with Mughal India seems rather limited. However, it was an important relationship and the interactions that took place were not only important to Mughal India but also to Russia as whole. Since Russia was just one of the outside nations trying to get a piece of India, along with the rest of Europe it is interesting the Mughal India actually had a problem with these outside powers. It would seem that having all these other countries breaking up a country you were trying to break up would seem a good help. However, that was not the case and the main interaction between Russia and Mughal India was their shared passion for war turned on one another. These two nations also shared cultures when they came in contact with one another and were able to learn from each other in that way. They also shared commercially since at one time they were both rather lacking in certain areas of trade. Russia interactions with Mughal India were not as long lasted as its overall interactions with the West and modern day India.
One of the most prevalent types of interactions between Russia and the West was that of war. Russia and the West have had quite a tumultuous relationship throughout history. A well known war that took place when Russia was attempting to modernize itself under the leadership of Peter the Great was against Sweden. It is interesting that a war would take place against Sweden since it was the European country that Russia was mostly modeling itself after.1 However, Russia found themselves victors in the Great Northern War (1700-1721) over Sweden. Due to its interactions with the West, Russia was able to shape itself into a powerful empire as a result of what it was able to gain from looking at the way in which Western governments functioned. Russia’s government was in no means perfect but because of their interactions with the West they were at least able to form some type of government. Lessons were also learned from Europe in taking defeat, Sweden was able to gain back some of its dignity when it defeated Russia in the Battle of Narva. Another ruler who brought warfare to the nation was Ivan IV and through the course of his wars he found himself reaching out to the West for technical assistance. However, this was not something that all western nations were keen on helping the Russians at that time (1500’s).7 Russia did not always find itself on the opposite end of the battlefield as its Western counterparts and in the case of the Seven Years War (1756-63), along with some European allies it found itself being quite successful. At times Russia also found itself struggling to remain independent from Western nations. For instance in 1612 Russia broke free from Poland’s stronghold under the leadership of Philaret Romanov.8
"Only God and the tsar know.", this was a favorite saying among Russians and despite the fact that it is not quite the whole truth it gives an idea to how much respect was given to the tsar by Russians and how important the country’s welfare was.7 Interactions between Russia, the West, and India have by no means come to an end. Recent events have headlined the news and it is clear that these relationships remain important to Russia. With historic wars like World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, Russia has remained in the spotlight as a world power. It has not always made the wisest choices and has not always been under the best leadership which has caused it to receive some suspicion from Western nations at one time or another. However, the relationships continue and Russia recently reignited its relationship with India through a visit by current President Putin to India. Through these continued interactions it is clear that despite mistakes of the past or simply past interactions Russia continues to be an important part of the world stage. There is no country that can take the place of Russia, a nation with a rich history and future lying ahead. Hopefully, Russia will chose to be a righteous nation because no matter what friends it has only righteousness will exalt a nation.9
1 http://russia.nypl.org/ref/leve3ref6.html - January 12, 2005
2 The Mughals to India
www.fsmitha.com/h3/map13-ti.htm - January 12, 2005
3 http://members.tripod.com/%7EINDIA_RESOURCE/mughal.html - January 12, 2005
4 http://russia.nypl.org/history/muscovy.html - January 12, 2005
5 hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b2catherinegreat.htm January 12, 2005
6 India © 2001-2004 by Frank E. Smithia
www.fsmitha.com/h3/h23-in.html - January 12, 2005
7 www.fsmithia.com/h3/h11-ev.html - January 12, 2005
8 “Overview of Russian History”, by Rit Nistro
hyperhistory.net – January 12, 2005
9 “Righteousness exalts a nation…” Proverbs 14:34
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