WEA LogoThe WEA runs Spring and Autumn term adult education courses in Great Maplestead Village Hall.

The Maplesteads' WEA Spring 2018 course started on the 22nd January 2018, when potential participants were invited to attend the course overview of Russia of the Tsars and meet the tutor David Prynn.

The course is 9 weeks long and costs £48.60. Sessions commence at 7.45pm. Each session will last for around 1.5hrs.


Ivan II Dynasty Catherine Nicholas II
Ivan IV - the Terrible The Tsarist Dynasty Catherine the Great Nicholas II


Between the seventeenth century and the 1917 revolution, the Russian Tsars became absolute rulers of the largest and most diverse empire in the world. The splendour of their court and their capital city, St. Petersburg, was extraordinary, but this imperial edifice was supported by the toil of millions of serfs tied to the land and brutally repressed.

The vast majority of the people were uneducated, yet Russia produced writers, artists, and composers of world importance. The Tsars created a mighty army, but it failed them in the Crimea and in World War I. This empire of contradictions was to have a profound influence on the developing history of both Europe and Asia.

Covering the origins of Tsarist Russia in the 17thC and outlining its dynamic history, from Muscovy and Ivan the Terrible through the rule of Catherine the Great to the last, doomed, Tsar Nicholas II in 1917, the course examines why autocratic rule persisted for nearly 300 years, what its problems were and the various reasons for its eventual collapse.

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

1. Indicate reasons for the unique characteristics of Russian historical culture.

2. Explain the origins of serfdom in Russia.

3. Suggest reasons for the persistence of autocratic rule in Russia.

4. Indicate reasons for the collapse of Tsarist Russia.


Recommended reading for the course includes (E = Essential; B = Background; R = Reference):

  Title Author(s)
E   Russia, The Tsarist and Soviet Legacy

Acton, E.

Longmans, 1996

B Russia, a Journey to the Heart of a Land and its People     Dimbleby, J.

BBC Books, 2008

E A People’s Tragedy, Russian Revolution 1891–1924 Figes, O

J. Cape, 1996

E Natasha’s Dance, a Cultural History of Russia Figes, O

Penguin Books, 2003

E The Making of Modern Russia Kochan, L

Penguin Books, 1970

R Russia: A 1,000-Year Chronicle of the Wild East Sixsmith, Martin

BBC Books, 2011

  A Concise History of Russian Art Rice, Tamara Talbot


  A History of Russian Music Montague-Nathan, M.  


  Alexander I Palmer, Alan


  Alexander II and the Modernisation of Russia Mosse, W.E.


  Chronicle of the Russian Tsars Warnes, David


  Daily Life in Russia Under the Last Tsar Troyat, Henri  
  Elizabeth and Catherine Coughlan, Robert  
  Ivan the Terrible Troyat, Henri  
  Nicholas II Lieven, D.C.B.  
  Peter the Great Troyat, Henri  
  Russia and the Mongol Yoke Hartog, Leo de  
  Russia Hosking, Geoffrey  
  The Russian Empire 1801 - 1917 Seton-Watson, Hugh  
  The Shaman's Coat Reid, Anna



For further information please contact the Maplesteads' WEA Secretary, Jean Bowers