Great Britain

Britain: A Short History by Terry Jenkins

By Terry Jenkins

This concise advisor to British historical past not just summarizes the colourful earlier of a tiny but robust state, but additionally explains how the British built their specific identification, and what the longer term may well carry for this island country

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Given his childhood experiences, it would have been remarkable if he had grown up to be a well-balanced adult. The death of his father when Ivan was only three had plunged the Kremlin into a ferocious duel for power between rival factions. For the next fourteen years the country was on the brink of civil war as two boyar families, the Shuiskys and the Belskys, jostled ruthlessly for dominance. Power seesawed between them and whichever family held sway plundered the state treasury and massacred members of the opposition, often in full view of the young Ivan.

During the ceremony the claim was put forth that the cross and regalia on Ivan's head and shoulders had been sent to the Grand Prince of Kiev in the twelfth century by the Byzantine Emperor Constantin Monomachus. On another occasion, Ivan contended that his authority had an even more distinguished pedigree. 'The beginnings of our autocracy,' he declared, 'is of St Vladimir [956-1015]. We were born and nurtured in the office of Tsar, and do possess it, and have not ravished what is not our own. ' As tsar, Ivan immediately faced a series of crises, and in his handling of them we can observe how he gradually changed from a cynical despot into a shrewd politician.

Not only could the pomeshchik (the holder of a pomestie) not move freely from one principality to another and transfer his allegiance from one prince to another, but gradually, in the course of the sixteenth century, service to the state became a corporate, hereditary obligation of every member of the upper classes. Only the tsar could exempt a The Rise of Muscovite Russia 31 nobleman from service. Moreover, the obligation to serve the state devolved from father to son, which helps to explain the evolution of Russia into what came to be known as a 'service state'.

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