Challenging Traditional Views of Russian History by S. Wheatcroft
By S. Wheatcroft
This assortment offers perspectives on key points of Russian/Soviet historical past reminiscent of the non-Slavic resources of Russian statehood; tsarist penal structures; the pre-evolutionary technological point; the famine of 1931-3; patronage practices in Stalin's Russia; and the autumn of the Soviet Union.
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25 Most slaves traded south were 'idolators' according to al-Istakhri (that is, not people 'of the book'). 26 They came from pagan Rus', from the Finnic-speaking peoples of the woodlands, and from the steppes. The Khazars maintained their rights to tribute with periodic military tours and the taking of hostages, and also by planting garrisons in subordinate lands. In the tenth century, Ibn Fadlan reported that 25 separate peoples had to offer royal princesses as the kaghan's bridesY In the late eighth and early ninth centuries, the Khazars built a network of forts along the Don and Donets to exploit the growing sedentary populations of the region, and the flourishing trades that passed northwards towards the Volga and the Baltic.
N. Gumilev, has done something to revive interest in the Khazars, but Gumilev's latest work itself has an anti-Semitic tinge to it, and interprets the Khazar empire after the conversion to Judaism not as a 'true state', but as a 'chimera'. See L. N. , 1992), chs 6-9. 18. Peter B. Golden, An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples: Ethnogenesis and State-formation in Medieval and Early Modem Eurasia and the Middle East (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1992), pp. 233-6. 19. Artamonov, Istoriya khazar, pp.
2). There were several unique features in the Russian penal system which deserve attention. The early abolition of capital punishment was accompanied by a continued use of corporal punishment into the late nineteenth century. The slitting of nostrils was abolished in 1817, but beatings and facial branding continued to be widely used into the mid-century. And, as Adams points out, attempts to abolish most aspects of corporal punishment in the Legal Code of 1845 had to be delayed until 1863 because no alternative punishments were available.