Making and Breaking the Russian Empire: The Case of Kiev's Shul'Gin Family Print

 

 Faith Hillis, University of Chicago

 Abstract

Over the course of the nineteenth century, the tsarist authorities struggled to consolidate their control over the diverse population of the Russian empire’s western borderlands. In the early part of the century, Polish-Catholic nobles (or szlachta) were the dominant social and political force in the region, which also contained large numbers of Jews, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians; in 1830-31 and 1863, the szlachta participated in armed revolts that aimed to reconstitute the Polish state, which had been destroyed by partition in the late eighteenth century. In the aftermath of the insurrections, imperial bureaucrats attempted to diminish the influence of Poles in the region, to forestall the potential that other groups would embrace national separatism, and to enhance the authority of the state and the Orthodox church.