Mallory, the Chinese sources describe the existence of "white people with long hair" or the Bai people in the Shan Hai Jing , who lived beyond their northwestern border. Various nomadic tribes, such as the Yuezhi were part of the large migration of Indo-European speaking peoples who were settled in eastern Central Asia possibly as far as Gansu at that time. The Ordos culture situated at northern China east of the Yuezhi, are another example. All of the jade items excavated from the tomb of Fuhao of the Shang dynasty , more than pieces, were from Khotan in modern Xinjiang. As early as the mid-first millennium BC the Yuezhi engaged in the jade trade, of which the major consumers were the rulers of agricultural China. A small number of their people who were unable to make the journey west sought refuge among the Qiang barbarians in the Southern Mountains, where they are known as the Lesser Yuezhi.
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The Tsar promulgated a new code of laws Sudebnik of , established the first Russian feudal representative body Zemsky Sobor and introduced local self-management into the rural regions.
Thus, by the end of the 16th century Russia was transformed into a multiethnic , multidenominational and transcontinental state. However, the Tsardom was weakened by the long and unsuccessful Livonian War against the coalition of Poland, Lithuania, and Sweden for access to the Baltic coast and sea trade. The slave raids of Crimeans , however, did not cease until the late 17th century though the construction of new fortification lines across Southern Russia, such as the Great Abatis Line , constantly narrowed the area accessible to incursions.
In , the Poles were forced to retreat by the Russian volunteer corps, led by two national heroes, merchant Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky.
The Romanov Dynasty acceded to the throne in by the decision of Zemsky Sobor, and the country started its gradual recovery from the crisis.
Russia continued its territorial growth through the 17th century, which was the age of Cossacks. Cossacks were warriors organised into military communities, resembling pirates and pioneers of the New World. In , the peasants of Ukraine joined the Zaporozhian Cossacks in rebellion against Poland-Lithuania during the Khmelnytsky Uprising in reaction to the social and religious oppression they had been suffering under Polish rule. Finally, Ukraine was split along the Dnieper River , leaving the western part, right-bank Ukraine , under Polish rule and the eastern part Left-bank Ukraine and Kiev under Russian rule.
In the east, the rapid Russian exploration and colonisation of the huge territories of Siberia was led mostly by Cossacks hunting for valuable furs and ivory. Russian explorers pushed eastward primarily along the Siberian River Routes , and by the midth century there were Russian settlements in Eastern Siberia, on the Chukchi Peninsula , along the Amur River , and on the Pacific coast.
During this conflict Russia annexed East Prussia for a while and even took Berlin. She extended Russian political control over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and incorporated most of its territories into Russia during the Partitions of Poland , pushing the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe. As a result of victories over Qajar Iran through the Russo-Persian Wars , by the first half of the 19th century Russia also made significant territorial gains in Transcaucasia and the North Caucasus , forcing the former to irrevocably cede what is nowadays Georgia , Dagestan , Azerbaijan and Armenia to Russia.
At the same time, Russians colonised Alaska and even founded settlements in California, such as Fort Ross. Russian expansion in Eurasia between and In —, the first Russian circumnavigation was made, later followed by other notable Russian sea exploration voyages. In , a Russian expedition discovered the continent of Antarctica.
Between and , about one million people died of Asiatic cholera. These Great Reforms spurred industrialization and modernised the Russian army, which had successfully liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in the —78 Russo-Turkish War. The late 19th century saw the rise of various socialist movements in Russia. The uprising was put down, but the government was forced to concede major reforms Russian Constitution of , including granting the freedoms of speech.
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