Russia - a country between barbarism and civilization
Western observers and travelers in the 16th and 17th centuries assumed the Czar's Russian empire to be an Asian despotism. It considered the traditions of the corporate state, and one with freedom and privileges for the endowed nobility, to be valid.
The apparently virtually unlimited autocracy of the Czar and the reputed barbaric-servile and uneducated-ignorant nature of his subjects thus made them the subject of fierce criticism.
Europe felt culturally superior to Russia and saw itself as the epitome of civilization.