Alberto Masoero

A Russian Empire of Difference or a Unitary State?

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This essay explores John LeDonne’s Forging a Unitary State, a grand synthesis about the formation of the Russian state from 1650 to 1850. While the geopolitical framing of LeDonne’s narrative leaves much to be desired, the competent, painstaking analysis of institutional practices and patronage networks offers a potentially innovative view of Tsarist policy makers’ strategic vision in asserting power over the peripheral, expanding space. The notion of a «unitary state» provides a refreshing starting point that might be developed further, to move beyond the dichotomy of «empire» and «national state».


  • Empire
  • Russia
  • John LeDonne


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