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British Academy Lectures 2014-15$
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Janet Carsten and Simon Frith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265987

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265987.001.0001

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Rivers of blood: Illustrating violence and virtue in Russia’s early modern empire

Rivers of blood: Illustrating violence and virtue in Russia’s early modern empire

Raleigh Lecture on History Read 6 November 2014

Chapter:
(p.69) Rivers of blood: Illustrating violence and virtue in Russia’s early modern empire
Source:
British Academy Lectures 2014-15
Author(s):

Valerie A. Kivelson

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265987.003.0003

In the 16th and 17th centuries, between the reign of Ivan the Terrible and that of Peter the Great, Muscovite Russian forces swept eastward, conquering, colonising, and controlling territories reaching from the Volga to the Pacific. Unlike contemporary Western European empires, Russians left few theoretical considerations of what this imperial advance signified to them or how they understood their role as imperial conquerors and overlords. They did, however, leave a colourful collection of illustrated chronicles depicting their battles with the many varied peoples of the steppe and Siberia. Filled with blood and carnage, these images employ surprising visual tropes that distinguish moral from immoral and just from unjust uses of violence, with significant implications for understanding early modern Russian policies of imperial incorporation.

Keywords:   early modern Russia, imperial, violence, illustrated chronicles, moral, just, visual tropes

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