Northern Illinois University Press

Soldiers on the Steppe

Army Reform and Social Change in Early Modern Russia

Carol Belkin Stevens

"An excellent study.... Stevens deserves our thanks for this superb study."Modern Greek Studies Yearbook

"An important contribution to an understanding of pre-Petrine Russian society."Historian

"Splendid.... Stevens escapes the Moscow-centered orientation of so much Russian political history, and her book gives a convincing picture of how authority actually functioned."East European Slavonic Review

By the seventeenth century, Russia had begun the lengthy and arduous process of creating a modern standing army. As elsewhere in Europe, military revolution brought both dramatic and unforeseen consequences. Raising and provisioning new troops called for specific changes in governement policy at the most basic level and broadly affected changes in social structures.

Soldiers on the Steppe charts the process of Russian army reform, not as reflected in laws and government edicts but rather as it was lived on the southeastern frontier of Europe. This open steppe zone, where the demands of continuous fighting pared army reform to the barest of essentials, was a crucible of Russian military activity throughout the seventeenth century. There the military focused primarily on recruiting men and requisitioning grain to maintain troops in the field. In accomplishing these goals, local officials, acting on central state policies, systematically violated the emerging political consensus regarding serfdom, eroded the prosperity of the local gentry, and altered traditional understandings of elite status.

Stevens shows that the Russian government's successes were achieved through compromise and accommodation of the varying interests of regional elites, petty landholders, and local officials. At the same time, she dispels the prevalent image of the Russian government as a powerful centralizing state that could impose uniform dictates on the provinces.

(1995) 252 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-198-8
cloth $38.50

Table of Contents

1 Muscovy and Its Southern Provinces
Part I
2 Food and the Military before 1663
3 Army Reform and Regional Consolidation, 16631682
4 The Incorporation of the South: The 1680s and 1690s
Part II
5 Supply to the Campaign Forces
6 The Russian Defensive Forces
7 The Collapse of Southern Status: The Odnodvortsy

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-198-8
cloth $38.50