The movement originated in Moscow in the 1830s. Drawing on the works of Greek patristics, the poet Aleksey Khomyakov (1804-60) and his devoutly Orthodox colleagues elaborated a traditionalistic doctrine that claimed Russia has its own distinct way, which doesn't have to imitate and mimic Western institutions. The Russian Slavophiles denounced Western culture and "westernizations" by Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, and some of them even adopted traditional pre-Petrine dress.
In the sphere of practical politics, the Slavophilism manifested itself as a pan-Slavic movement for the unification of all Slavic people under leadership of the Russian tsar and for the liberation of the Balkan Slavs from the Ottoman yoke. The Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78 is usually considered a high point of this militant Slavophilism, as expounded by the charismatic commander Mikhail Skobelev. The attitude towards other nations with Slavic origins varied, depending on the group involved. Classical Slavophiles believed that "Slavdom", that is the alleged by Slavophile movement common identity to all people of Slavic origin, was based on Orthodox religion. Russian Empire besides containing Russians, ruled over millions of Ukrainians, Poles and Belarussians, that had their own national identities, traditions and religions. Towards Ukrainians and Belarussians, the Slavophiles developed the view that they are part of the same "Great Russian" nation, Belarussians being the "White Russians" Ukrainians "Little Russians". Slavophile thinkers such as Mikhail Katkov believed that both nations should be ruled under Russian leadership and are essential part of Russian state. At the same time they denied the separate cultural identity of Ukrainian and Belarussian people, believing their national as well as language and literary aspirations are result of "Polish intrigue" that aims at separating them from Russians. Other Slavophiles like Ivan Aksakov recognized the right of Ukrainians to use Ukrainian language, however seeing it as completely unnecessary and harmful. Aksakov however did see some use of "Malorussian" language as practical, it would be beneficial in struggle against "Polish civilizational element in the western provinces"
Besides Ukrainians and Belarussians, the Russian Empire also included Poles, whose country was gone after being partitioned by three neighboring states, including Russia, which after decisions of Congress of Vienna expanded into more Polish inhabited territories. Poles proved to be a problem for the ideology of Slavophilism The very name Slavophiles indicated that the characteristics of the Slavs were based from their ethnicity, but at the same time Slavophiles believed that Orthodoxy equaled Slavdom. This belief was opposed by very existence of Poles within Russian Empire, who while having Slavic origins were also deeply Roman Catholic, the catholic faith forming one of core values of Polish national identity Also while Slavophiles praised the leadership of Russia over other nations of Slavic origins, the Poles very identity was based on West European culture and values and resistance to Russia was seen by them as resistance to something representing alien way of life. As a result Slavophiles were particularly hostile to Polish nation often emotionally attacking it in their writings When the Polish uprising of 1861 started, Slavophiles used anti-Polish sentiment to create feelings of national unity in Russian people, and the idea of cultural union of all Slavs was abandoned. With that Poland became firmly established to Slavophiles as symbol of Catholicism and Western Europe, that they detested, and as Poles were never assimiliated within the Russian Empire, constantly resisting Russian occupation of their country, in the end Slavophiles came to belief that annexation of Poland was a mistake due to fact that Polish nation couldn't be russified. "After the struggle with Poles, Slavophiles expressed their belief, that notwithstanding the goal of conquering Constantinopol, the future conflict would be made between "Teutonic race"(Germans), and "Slavs", Chief and the movement turned into Germanophobia
It should be noted that most Slavophiles were liberals and ardently supported the emancipation of serfs, which was finally realized in emancipation reform of 1861. Press censorship, serfdom, and capital punishment were viewed as baneful Western influences. Their political ideal was a parliamentary monarchy, as represented by the medieval Zemsky Sobors.
Many of the Slavophiles influenced prominent Cold War thinkers such as George F. Kennan, instilling in them a love for "Old" Russia as opposed to Soviet Russia. This in turn influenced their foreign policy ideas, such as Kennan's belief that the revival of the Eastern Orthodox Church in WWII would lead to the reform or overthrow of the Soviet Union.