Friday, June 3, 2011

Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin

Russian author Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin, died this day, June 3rd, in 1826.  He lived roughly the same lifespan as Sir Walter Scott, beginning and ending about five years earlier.  Karamzin wrote histories, and scholars see an influence on Karamzin from Scott’s work.

One of Karamzin’s essays is included in “The Great Events by Famous Historians”, the start of which is below:


A.D. 1581


Siberia, the northern home of the Tartars, was little known, even to the Russians, until the latter part of the sixteenth century. The Cossack conquest of the western portion of the region now called Siberia opened that vast territory to Muscovite occupation, and gradually it has become known to the world as part of the Russian empire.

Nothing certain is known of the origin of the Cossack tribes, and no final agreement has been reached as to the derivation of their name. According to later supposition, their nucleus was a body of refugees from the ancient Russian lands invaded by Tartars in the thirteenth century. Some of those refugees settled between the embouchures of the Ural River, others near the mouth of the Don. Driven by invasion to form themselves into a military organization, the Cossacks of the Don became a formidable confederacy. Since 1549 they have been under the protection of Russia, and have rendered great service to the empire.

Although they have always, since the time of Ivan IV, called the "Terrible" (1547-1584), furnished valorous soldiers to Russia, the Cossacks of the Don have often rebelled and disowned her authority. Russian troops have frequently been ordered to exterminate them.

During the last years of Ivan IV these Cossacks entered upon that eastern conquest which led to Russian expansion into Asia. Karamzin, the Russian historian, is the most eminent authority on this subject…

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