The author thanks the panelists for their comments. He appreciated their raising questions in need of further study and he tried to answer them: the concept of core power, security fringe, limits of Russian expansion, and he himself raised additional questions. One of the most intractable questions raised by Barbara Skinner concerned the role of the Jesuits in the conflict between the Orthodox and Catholic churches; another concerned the meaning of the phrase “the partitions of Poland.” The author answered them hopefully to her satisfaction. Semyonov placed the rise of the Russian Empire in the broad context of Eurasian geopolitics and the author responded by submitting a number of issues in need of further study. He only regrets that no one raised the broad issue of the roleof the law and its codification as a factor of integration, and expresses the hope that this panel will raise an awareness among interested scholars of strategic and economic issues.
John P. LeDonne’s Forging of a Unitary State represents the culmination of a long and illustrious career in the study of various aspects of Russia’s early-modern experience. This review offers a critical assessment of this important monograph, focusing above all on the author’s contrarian conception of Russia-as-empire and his defiant determination to shun the fashionable in favor of the fundamental. It pays particular attention to LeDonne’s claim that in the crucial period between the reigns of Aleksei Mikhailovich (1645–76) and Nicholas I (1825–55) Russia was aspiring to construct not an empire rooted in difference, but a unitary state featuring broadly homogeneous territorial organization, institutions, and practices. It also explores “superstratification,” LeDonne’s distinct conception of elite integration. It ends with questions that remain unanswered in LeDonne’s account.