The slow industrialization of Russia

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

Why did industrialization come more slowly to Russia than to Western Europe?

Because Western Europe did away with servitude a long time before Russia did; in Russia, servitude was abolished only in 1861. So the merchant class that carried out the bulk of industrialization in Western Europe and eventually took political power away from the military aristocracy never developed to that extent in Russia.

The only merchant republic Russia ever had, Novgorod, was sacked by Ivan the Terrible in 1570. Attempts to call a parliament after repealing the Polish invasion in 1610s were foiled by the gentry. Around 1700, Peter I actually attempted servitude in industry with very limited success. As late as in early 1900s, the wealthiest Russian merchants were those who won rights to administer government monopolies, of which there were quite a few…

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