Images of Great Britain and the British in Russian society during the First World War


The aim of the article is to analyze the general ideas about Great Britain and the British as military allies of the bloc of Entente countries, which existed  in Russian society during the First World War. Methods used in the research: the method of content analysis, historical-genetic and historical-comparative. Main results: the article examines the visions of the British, common among the Russian intelligentsia on the eve of the First World War, and the influence of previous historical experience on the formation of these visions. It is analyzed in what way Russians' ideas about Britain as an allied state were transformed during the course of hostilities. Attempts to carry out state actions to promote Britain in the Russian Empire are considered, in particular, the visit of Russian journalists to the British Isles in 1916.Journalistic notes and journalistic works resulting from this visit are examined. Concise conclusions: the experience of the First World War showed that the state propaganda of the Russian Empire paid much more attention to the formation of the image of the enemy. Conversely, efforts aimed at familiarizing Russian society with allies in the bloc of Entente countries were significantly less powerful. At the beginning of the First World War, most representatives of Russian society looked skeptically at Britain as an ally, taking to the attantion the country's lack of general mobilization and its desire to fight only at sea. The experience of the war showed that although general mobilization was not introduced in Great Britain, the number of the British Expeditionary Force in continental Europe increased tenfold due to volunteers who demonstrated high fighting qualities. Britain abandoned the strategy of war exclusively at sea, fulfilling the All-Allied obligations, the country learned to overcome the resource crisis that arose as a result of raids by German submarines on the routes connecting the British Isles with the colonies. It was these messages that Russian journalists and publicists tried to convey about Britain, in particular, the participants of the 1916 visit. However, the number of materials aimed at a mass reader, dedicated to allies in Russia was much less than articles dedicated to the enemy. Even at the end of the war, Russian society looked at the Western Front as an unknown war. Over time, this gave rise to the idea among Russian veterans during the years of the Civil War that Britain and France had failed to fulfill their duty as allies and were guilty of Russia. Practical meaning: the materials of the article can be used in the teaching of the basic course for students of the Faculty of History (Oles Honchar Dnipro National University) at the bachelor's level – “History of Western Europe and North America in modern times”. Originality: for the first time, attention is focused on the fact that the sphere of ideas about the Allies by the Entente bloc during the First World War directly influenced the events at the front and determined the narratives of the USSR and Russian emigration after the world carnage. Scientific novelty: for the first time, the change in perceptions of the British as allies of the Russian Empire (within the Entente countries) during the entire period of active hostilities during the First World War was analyzed. Type of article: descriptive and analytical.

Author Biography

Valeriia Lavrenko, Oles Honchar Dnipro National University

PhD in History, assistant professor of the Department of World History, Faculty of History, Oles Honchar Dnipro National University 


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How to Cite
LAVRENKO, Valeriia. Images of Great Britain and the British in Russian society during the First World War. Universum Historiae et Archeologiae = The Universe of History and Archeology = Універсум історії та археології ISSN 2664-9950 (Print) ISSN 2707-6385 (Online), [S.l.], v. 5, n. 1-2, dec. 2022. ISSN 2707-6385. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 28 may 2023. doi:
World History