Carol B. Stevens


Pearson, Longman, London, 2007, 329 pgs, 10 maps, bibliography, notes, glossary - review of John Sloan


Reviewer Comment:
One may compare this book with Alexander Filjushkin's book, Ivan the Terrible: A military history; and Brian Davies' book Warfare, State, and Society on the Black Sea Steppe, 1550 - 1700. They obviously overlap in subject matter, but in many respects they are complementary. I recommend that they all three should be studied together.

The author has made great use of Russian as well as western sources. She notes the recent flood of literature on Russian military history. But as usual, I miss sources in the Turkish - Tatar languages and even Polish and Swedish. The time period covered is much wider than that in either the history of Ivan IV or the study on steppe warfare. This provides an excellent description of the overall context for the reader of these other two important books. Theauthor sets her agenda in the introduction. The book is about 'the development of Russian military power and its interaction with social, administratibve and ideological change in Russian society". It was during this 300 year period that Muscovy became the Russian Empire. Dr. Stevens sets the background of this remarkable transformation well in her description of the Muscovite military as it existed before the reign of Ivan III, hardly changed from its medieval period. She notes that the extensive expansion of the Russian territory required a massive expansion of military power. And she shows that this expansion necessitated and caused significant changes in the political structure and society itself. These changes were occuring during the period convered by the other two books, but those books do not focus as much attention on the political and social transformations. She states her second theme in this way. "Military change is neither simply and starkly military, nor technological. The second particular emphasis of this volume is its focus on the military changes, as much as military innovations sensu stricto. Thus, this book focuses on the ways in which political organizations, the political will of elites, environment, economics and social structure interacted with Russia's military efforts in the early modern era."
At this point I have to digress to note the rather jarring comment she makes on page 2 of the introduction. "The reigns of Peter's consort and son in the years ...." But of course Peter's son died at his father's hand and did not reign.
She notes further, "The nature of Russian military innovation is another theme of this volume". In this respect she strongly stresses that even when Muscovy - Russia - was fighting major wars on two fronts these were not such different kinds of war. There were changes, innovations, additions, increasing practical use of foreign experts from western Europe, but the tsars brought their cavalry forces so essential to steppe warfare to their western campaigns, and conversely increasingly used the artillery and small-armed infantry developed on western models in their campaigns to the east and south.




Chapter 1 - The constituents of Muscovite power, ca. 1450


Chapter 2 - Creating a Muscovite Army, 1462-1533


Chapter 3 - The Army that won an Empire


Chapter 4 - The Political Prelude to Military Reform


Chapter 5 - The Thirteen Years' War - 1654 - 67


Chapter 6 - The Steppe Frontier after Razin - 1692-97


Chapter 7 - Peter the Great and the Beginning of the Great Northern War


Chapter 8 - Military Institutions after Poltava




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