Proto-Europeanization And Post-Europeanization Of Russia: Features And Results


The European topos has become a permanent developmental site for a peculiar ethno-cultural community – European civilization/Western world. During active interactions and deep interpenetration the peoples of Germany, France, England, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and others contributed to the establishment of the European economic structure, European statehood and legal framing, European model of natural science, and European style of socio-humanitarian thought – philosophy, art, and literature. This results in the formation of western mentality and way of life. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Russia actively contacted with European nations and got closer to their value system, languages, and culture. German and French fashion, German and Dutch technologies, English economic ideas, French gastronomy, French and German philosophy, etc. penetrated Russia. Russia joined Europe in the process of Europeanization – post-Europeanization – promoted and implemented primarily by Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov and Peter I. The conceptual space of this paper suggests that Europeanization of Russia took place long before the efforts of Romanov and Peter I. The paper analyzes the features and results of early/pre-Peter’s Europeanization and Peter’s Europeanization as factors contributing to the development of Russia. The author's conceptualization of "dual" Europeanization as an ambiguous overtone of the Russian reality makes it possible to get closer to understanding the obstacles to the early civilization breakthrough and maturation of the Russian sociality. The results of the study expand the subject-specific area of history, contribute to rethinking of the significance of Europeanization to Russian society.

Keywords: Europeanization"dual" EuropeanizationHanseatic Leagueproto-Europeanizationpost-Europeanization


In the conditions of the modern multidimensional socio-cultural space, the development processes increase the interest in historical social configurations as a rich reservoir of social meanings and an important evaluative factor of social existence. The authors argue that the analysis of "dual" Europeanization as a social configuration (proto-Europeanization/Novgorod, post-Europeanization/St. Petersburg) is relevant since this approach makes it possible to overcome the traditional idea of uniqueness and priority of Peter’s Europeanization; to emphasize the semantic depths of the historical chance due to the effect of the European development model on Russia; to determine the degree of precedence of historical Europeanization for interaction between the Russian world and the European world. Understanding of "dual" Europeanization is especially important in the context of attempts to minimize the role of the European civilization in the historical fate of Russia and hypertrophication of the "pecularity of the Russian path". It is obvious that identification of the semantic potential of "dual" Europeanization, the possibility of exclusion from panslavism and "unbridled patriotism" (Chaadaev, 2006), and a tendency towards harmonization of Russian-European socio-cultural interaction can be transformed into a serious historical and cultural search and practical "gathering" of Europe and Russia in the integral socio-cultural system beneficial to both of them.

Problem Statement

In the Russian socio-humanitarian knowledge (history), the ideas about Europeanization of Russia were established in the second half of the 17th–the first quarter of the 18th centuries and acquired the status of a scientific statement. Historical knowledge lacks a conceptual analysis of Europeanization in the earlier chronological framework; the issue of the lost possibility of early Europeanization development and subsequent historical fate of Russia goes beyond the scientific scope.

Research Questions

The study focuses on essential features and results of proto-Europeanization and post-Europeanization of Russia.

Purpose of the Study

The study aims to substantiate the existence of proto-Europeanization – early/pre-Peter’s Europeanization – in the 11th–15th centuries in the north-western part of Russia (Novgorod); the dominance of pro-Asian Moscow over the pro-European Novgorod deprived Russia of the historical chance for the early development of the country as part of the European family of peoples; post-Europeanization as another attempt of rapprochement with Europe.

Research Methods

Theoretical and methodological indicators were the concept of geographical determinism (Montesquieu, 2010); the principle of cognification; the principle of systemic organization of society; fundamental provisions of structural and functional analysis. The nature of Europeanization is revealed using historical-genetic and problem-chronological methods. Theoretical understanding of proto-Europeanization in its comparative interrelation with post-Europeanization predetermined the use of the comparative method. We employed the principle "to express your opinion about something already known" (Mamardashvili, 1990) in the study of social processes.


Russian history employs two socio-cultural models – pro-Asian and pro-European configurations of development. Moscow used the pro-Asian model of the Russian sociality: the priority of "feudality", the agrarian way of life and the patriarchal mentality, traditionalism and deep religiousness. Of the consequences of the Mongol overlordship, the most destructive is the breakdown of ties with Western Europe and the increasing lagging behind Europe in socio-cultural evolution masked by the "special path" of Russia. Novgorod and St. Petersburg used the pro-European model: the priority of bourgeois, urban lifestyle and mentality, and moderate religiosity.

1. Proto-Europeanization

Due to its geographical position, Novgorod was objectively a pro-European city like an ancient Greek or Italian city-state of the 9th–15th centuries. The natural and geographical conditions of the north-western part of Russia, which are unfavorable for agriculture, predetermined the development vectors of Novgorod. The main economic factor is not land, but capital, and the priority sector of the economy is craft, which flourished in the 12th–5th centuries and was associated with construction, weapons, gold tailoring and jewelry workshops. The city actively traded with Western Europe, Denmark, Sweden, and the Hanseatic Trade Union being the main economic partners and competitors (Berezhkov, 1879). At the turn of the 11th–12th centuries, merchant corporations (Ivanovskaya Sotnya) and export houses such as the Gothic House (Gutagorod), which belonged to the inhabitants of Gotland (Andreevsky, 1856), and German House (Peterhof) were established in Novgorod. Then the trading post of Gotland merchants was founded in the city (Bessudnova, 2019). On the island of Gotland, in the city of Visby, there was also a corporation of Novgorod merchants. The key positions in the social structure of Novgorod are occupied by patriciate or "middle class" – an extensive artisan-commercial middle class (the Novgorod model of the industrial, financial and trading bourgeoisie). The minority made up the rural population – boyars and the peasantry. The Novgorod boyars, unlike the boyars of "All Russia", were not princely warriors but descendants of the local tribal nobility, who spontaneously occupied lands. However, as stated above, private land ownership in Novgorod was not dominant.

On the one hand, Novgorod as a geopolitical center was close to the European model of government and political regime, but on the other hand, at the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th century, the city became the "ambassador" of the Slavic world in Europe. Similar to some regions of ancient (Athens, Milet, etc.) and medieval (Genoa, Venice, etc.) Western Europe, an aristocratic boyar republic with democratic political regime was founded in Novgorod at the end of the 11th century. In 1136, the political execution of the Novgorod self-government took place. The Novgorodians for the first time implemented the "liberty in princes" proclaimed by them some time ago: the assembly dismissed Prince Vsevolod Mstislavich. After the political reform of 1416–1423, the posadnik delegated authority to the Soviet Gospod of the boyars-nobles, and Novgorod turned into Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod the Great), which historians often compare to Venice governed by the Doge's Council.

The European precedent became the basis of the regulatory system. In contrast to "big Rus" with a priority of moral consciousness, legal consciousness was actively formed in Novgorod: democratic veche legislation regulated the social order; receptive law was based on the European legislation that resulted in the formation of the Novgorod Judicial Charter; the contract law regulated the interaction of the city with the princes and established the financial and commercial relations of Novgorod with German merchants (Hanseatic charter) according to the rules of international trade, thus providing a legal justification for trade contacts of Novgorod with Western Europe (Winkler, 1866). Thus, the phenomena of "law-priority" and "civil contractual capacity" in the European sense were formed and actively developed in Novgorod.

Novgorod was one of the largest cultural centers of Russia, which was primarily due to its close proximity to Western Europe. The priority of handicraft and trade branches leads to the economic viability of boyars and contributes to the development of education. Similar to European countries, school teaching and book literacy appeared in Novgorod: the first school was opened in the city in 1030; one of the largest libraries of medieval Russia accounting for more than one and a half thousand manuscripts was collected and stored in Novgorod. Developed international relations of the city and democratic traditions in public life created the prerequisites for specific artistic culture of Novgorod. For example, works of the Byzantine-Kiev cultural circle (Sophia, Nikolo-Dvorischensky and St. George’s Cathedrals), paintings by Theophanes the Greek, and monuments of European-Romanesque and Gothic styles (Magdeburg Gate, residence of the Archbishop designed by German architects).

Free spirit of free people gave rise to remarkable patterns of social development – economic, political, and cultural. This made Veliky Novgorod one of the most conveniently planned and socially comfortable cities in Europe. But there was a strategic mistake in determining the future development of Novgorod. Independent and prosperous citizens of Veliky Novgorod created a favorable social and economic climate in the city and lived in peace and relaxation. At the same time, Moscow improved as a military-political entity aimed at absorbing its neighbors. The aggressive policy of Moscow led to the unification of all Russian lands in a centralized state. A decisive and disastrous for the Novgorod Republic was the conflict not with the alien West, but with the native East – Moscow. Novgorod refused the help of the West and tried to resist the Moscow expansion. Due to the fear of loss of their privileges in case of subordination to Moscow, some of the Novgorod boyars led by the mayor Marfa Boretskaya concluded an agreement with Lithuania. After that, Ivan III launched a war against Novgorod (1478). The massacre of Novgorod, one of the bloodiest events of the oprichnina, took place during the reign of Ivan IV (1570). Thousands of people were executed, the city was ruined and destroyed. Proto-Europeanization was interrupted: the republican-democratic model of government was destroyed in Novgorod, and thus the historical chance of democratization of Russia was lost.

2. Post-Europeanization

At the beginning of the 18th century, Peter I founded the pro-Asian Tsardom of Russia to the West – a huge archaic topos with a small number of cities and insignificant number of industrial population (Wittram, 1964): many European engineers, craftsmen, artists, government officials and army officers were invited to develop the infrastructure, to modernize the army and the state apparatus, and to form economic competencies. Russia again had a historical chance of modernization and democratization of social life. More than two hundred years later, proto-Europeanization was prolonged to post-Europeanization: pro-European Novgorod passed the socio-cultural baton to pro-European St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, the avalanche-like and hyperdynamic post-Europeanization did not realized its conceptual potential.

Potentially: abolition of serfdom, creation of a market for wage laborers, growth of industrial production, industrial revolution (intensive type of development), and revitalization of urban culture.

Actually: preservation of serfdom, creation of manufactories with serf labor, formal increase in the number of manufactories (extensiveness of development), but in fact the industrial revolution did not take place (intensity of development); construction of individual cities according to European canons (St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg) and their uneven distribution throughout Russia, which gave rise to the enclave phenomenon – limited urbanization.

Potentially: deep ideological modernization, secularization of consciousness.

Actually: state political and governmental secularization, implementation of the principle "empire is higher than priesthood" with deep religiousness of the population. The new system of church-state relations is introduced and solemnly proclaimed in Russia in the Spiritual Regulations by Feofan Prokopovich, who belongs to the Protestant scholastics of the 17th century. Peter I carefully studied the European experience, he was fundamentally focused on the Protestant countries – Denmark, Germany, Holland, and England, which put religion at the service of the state's interests (Tsvetaev, 1890). But the program of the Russian Reformation did not find a response in Russian society. Peter I formally created a synod in the German Lutheran style (Goetz, 1916), but actually enslaved and weakened the Orthodox Church, exacerbating the spiritual schism between the government and the church. There was a regular polarization of the spiritual life of Russia.

Potentially: deep fundamental education of the population.

Actually: limited education of certain classes (1714, Decree on universal compulsory education for children of all classes (except peasants). Public schools for the preparation of educated people from noblemen and merchants. The system of practice-oriented professional education (navigation, pushkarskaya, hospital, clerical and other schools). Teaching has become one of the types of public service. The task of general education was not set, it was part and condition of professional education. Post-Europeanization was controversial. Firstly, a large part of the population continued to exist in the archaic Middle Ages, while the smaller one stepped into the new time: young nobility who had studied in Europe constituted an insignificant layer of European-educated reformers. Secondly, the sociocultural integrity of Russian social life was destroyed that gave rise to complex and ambiguous processes: syncretic "culture–faith" was divided into culture and faith, that is, secular and religious culture (Muller, 1972). At the same time, the religious/national part of culture was concentrated in pro-Asian Moscow and on the periphery, and the newly formed secular/intellectual culture was concentrated in pro-European St. Petersburg (Litvinov, 2007). Thirdly, mental questions provocative for the Russian arose: sensuality or rationality, beauty or benefit, words or deeds, speculation or action, church reading or secular education. In addition to the socio-cultural schism, Peter's post-Europeanization caused confrontation between pro-Western reformers and conservatives that became permanent in Russian society (Danilevsky, 1991). Finally, post-Europeanization turned into an ontological paradox: formal modernization/democratization of life actually served to strengthen Asian-style absolutism, in which the "centripetal" Russian autocracy and the "centrifugal" advanced nobility became oppositional.


Proto-Europeanization and post-Europeanization were objectively aimed to return "to the origins" – to the original geographical and cultural space of the Eastern Slavs left in the process of the "Great Migration of Peoples". What could and should the process of Europeanization have meant for Russia?

What actually meant the process of Europeanization for Russia?


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Mullyar*, L., Kuliev, F., Osherelieva, O., Ageeva, E., & Osipov, S. (2019). Proto-Europeanization And Post-Europeanization Of Russia: Features And Results. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1914-1920). Future Academy.