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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> States >> Russia

Map of Europe in 1740 showing the Russian empire
Capital Sankt-Peterburg (Saint Petersburg)
Language(s) Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Estonian, Finnish, Lapp, Khanty, Mansi, Kalmyk, Latvian, Tatar, Bashir, Nogay
Religion Orthodox
Population approximately 20,000,000

An estimation of the population in 1796 proposes 26,000,000 while another estimation for the year 1724 gives a population of 12,500,000 inhabitants. One thing is certain: throughout the XVIIIth century Russia experienced a very vigourous demographic growth.

Government Empire
Dependencies A Siberian Ministry existed since 1637. Strongholds (ostrog) had been established throughout Siberia to control the territory. Tobolsk was then the administrative centre of Western Siberia; and Irkoutsk of Eastern Siberia. Several Swedish prisoners had been deported to Siberia after the Great Northern War (1700-1721). Similarly, several Prussian prisoners were also sent to Siberia during the Seven Years' War. Colonization was in great part assumed by deported grouped in penal colonies (katorgas). Colonization advanced along a narrow band to the South of the Taïga, along the Siberian Route (Moscow, Murom, Kozmodemyansk, Kazan, Perm, Kungur, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, Tobolsk, Tara, Kainsk, Tomsk, Yeniseysk and Irkutsk; after crossing Lake Baikal the road split near Verkhneudinsk. One branch continued east to Nerchinsk while the other went south to the border post of Kyakhta) and along the main rivers. At the end of the XVIIIth century Siberia counted about 1,000,000 inhabitants (50% Europeans, 50% indigenous). Overall, European Siberians experienced better material conditions than most Russians.

From 1750, the Kamtchatka Peninsula saw the arrival or creation of several trading companies interested by commerce in the Pacific Ocean.

Rulers 1741-1762: Empress Elizabeth Petrovna

1762: Emperor Peter III
1762-1796: Empress Catherine II

Army see the article on the Russian Army
Navy see the article on the Russian Navy
International relations Since 1747, Great Britain was paying for the maintenance of Russian troops in Courland and Livonia. The same year, In 1747, Frederick II of Prussia had concluded a defensive alliance with Sweden against Russia.

On September 30 1755, Sir Hanbury Williams concluded a new agreement between Russia and Great Britain by which, for the next four years, Russia would make 55,000 men and from 40 to 50 galleys available to Great Britain. Furthermore, 10,000 men could be used on the sea if necessary.

In 1756, when the Russian Court heard of the alliance between Great Britain and Prussia, it bandoned its own alliance with Great Britain and sided with Austria and France.

During this period, China was worried by the very rapid progression of Russia in Siberia since the end of the XVIth century. At the time of the Seven Years' War, China extended its control over Tashkent as well as the Mongol states of Kashgar (1759) and Dzungaria (1759-61) making itself virtual master of Central Asia.

Trade Russian merchants were not allowed to pay for foreign merchandises with Russian currency. In other words, they could not export Russian money. They had to resort to barter economy.

The Russians were exporting pelts to the Ottoman Empire through Greek merchants selling them at Constantinople and Thessaloniki. Since 1739, the Russians were forced by treaty to use Turkish vessels for their commerce on the Black Sea.

The Russian merchants of Astrakhan conducted very local trade with the Persian towns of Baku and Derbent. They bartered textiles, copper and furs for silken cloth.

All trade with China was conducted by land routes. There was no maritime commerce. Since the Treaty of Kyakhta in 1727, Russian merchants were authorized to barter with two Chinese cities (Kyakhta and Tsurukhaitu) on the border and to send caravans (maximum 200 people)to Beijing. In Kyakhta alone, trade increased rapidly, reaching a value of 837,000 Rubles in 1755 and 1,358,000 Rubles in 1760. Barter consisted essentially in the exchange of Chinese tea (very popular among the Russian aristocracy), china, rhubarb, cotton and silken clothes for Russian furs (85%), leather, wood and games. Most of the commercial activities took place in the two frontier towns. From 1727 to 1762, only six caravans were sent to Beijing.


Devèze, M.: L'Europe et le monde à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, Albin Michel, 1970, pp. 41, 67, 78, 91, 103-117

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, pp. 5-25