In terms of long-range effects the conversion under Vladimir was also highly significant: It brought Russia into the circle of European Christendom and made her a part of Western civilization and European culture. It isolated Russia from Western Europe because of the split in the Christian Church which occurred in 1054. It made Russia dependent on Byzantine trade and commerce. It made Russian culture essentially Byzantine in nature. Byzantine culture surpassed all culture in Europe at that time. It came to Russia ready-made. It made the church an instrument of political unification. It laid the groundwork for the "imperial idea" in Russian history. Russia inherited the mantle of Byzantine imperialism.
Vocabulary work Read and memorize the following words and expressions, suggest their Russian equivalents:
preach, v campaign, n (e.g. military campaign) preacher, n negotiate, v superstition, n negotiations, n convert, n (v) merit, n conversion, n faith, n heathen, n (adj) (=pagan) prosperity, n heathenism, n (=paganism) envoy, n worship, v clergy, n duke, n laity, n duchess, n realm, n baptize, v monastery, n baptism, n unfortunate, n (e.g. unfortunates of missionary, n society) patriarch, n auspices, n (e.g. under the auspices of …) subject, adj conviction, n (e.g. a matter of inner subjection, n conviction) to go hand in hand metropolitan, n bishop, n consecrate, v archbishop, n consecration, n priest, n estate, n (e.g. landed estate) access, v (e.g. to access the throne) hierarchy, n accession, n zeal, n sacrifice, n (v) (e.g. human sacrifices) zealous, adj (e.g. to defend smth martyr, n (e.g. Christian martyrs) zealously) virtue, n secular, adj reign, n monastic order Questions for discussion Comment on the following:
1. Do you support the author’s idea that religion has the formative influence over a country’s history Use specific examples to illustrate your answer.
2. In your opinion, how could the course of Russian history have been altered, had it accepted another religion 3. What were the pros and contras the first Russian princes had to keep in mind considering conversion into Christianity 4. Has Russia ever become a fully Christian country Chapter THE TARTAR YOKE Read the text:
If the Byzantine heritage has had an important influence on the development of Russian history and culture, so has another heritage, coming from another direction and leaving behind more uncertain benefits. The destinies of nations, like the fates of individuals, are sometimes profoundly affected by events over which they have no control. The conquest by the Mongols, in the thirteenth century, of a large portion of the then known world, including Russia, is a good example of the decisive part which the contingent and the unforeseen play in human affairs.
How it all Began The Mongols were a mixed group of peoples who first enter upon the world state in the area of North China and Eastern Siberia. They were nomads who raised cattle and moved about on fleet horses. They were fierce warriors who had perfected the art of horseback Blitzkrieg. They were always on the move, looking for better grazing pastures and sedentary settlements to plunder. According to tradition the various Mongol chiefs held a council in 1206 which decided to establish an empire under the leadership of Ghingis Khan. So they embarked on a vast program of conquest. In 1207 they took southern Siberia, followed by long wars in China and Turkestan. By the time of Ghingis Khan's death in 1227 they had conquered China, Siberia, central Asia and Trans-Caucasia.
Although a flying detachment of Mongol horsemen invaded Russia and defeated her armies in 1223, giving the Russians a taste of what was to come, nothing happened until 13 years later. In 1236, however, Batu, the grandson of the great Khan, decided it was time to go on the warpath again. A large Mongol army under Batu crossed the Urals and wiped out the Volga Bulgars. This time it was more than fun and games. The Mongols brought wagons, wives, children and cattle with them.
Although the Russians did not at first realize it, the Mongols apparently planned to stay for a while. But they made themselves rather unwelcome by destroying cities, towns and settlements. Yet the Russian princes made no effort to unite and organize for the defense.
The princes of Riazan, the first Russian land to be invaded, pleaded vainly for assistance from the grand duke of Vladimir. The city of Riazan was captured in December 1237, pillaged and burned. A similar fate befell Kalomma, Moscow, Suzdal, Vladimir, Rostov, Yaroslav and Tver. The next spring 14 more Russian cities fell to the conqueror. By 1239 most of Russia except Novgorod and the northwest had been subdued. In 1241 Batu crossed the Carpathians and invaded Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Croatia and the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic. Batu was about to threaten Western Europe in 1242 when he suddenly turned back and retreated to the Black Sea steppes. For the next 240 years the Mongols stayed in Russia.
Golden Horde Takes Shape In the Black Sea area Batu established the autonomous Mongol state of the Golden Horde with the newly built capital of Sarai on the lower Volga. This state included the Russian principalities, the land of the Volga Bulgars, the Black Sea steppes inhabited by the Cumans, the northern Caucasus, Western Siberia and Turkestan. The Golden Horde was at first a province of the Mongol empire. This fact forced many Russian princes to travel all the way to Karakorum in Mongolia to consult with the great Khan himself over such things as tribute, conformation of office and redress of grievances. But dissension eventually weakened the empire and its autonomous states became warring factions.
In the fifteenth century it became apparent that the Mongol empire could no longer hold together. At the same time the Russians finally succeeded in overcoming their ancient disorders and building up a unified state under the leadership of the Moscow princes. The disintegration of the Golden Horde and them consolidation of Muscovy culminated in what is traditionally known as the "liberation from the Tatar yoke," an event that took place at the end of the fifteenth century..
Interrelations The khans of the Golden Horde were stern masters. The principal objective of their Russian policy was recruitment of men for the army and the raising of revenue to meet the costs of administration and imperial expansion. Russian soldiers are known to have fought in the ranks of the conquerors. The Russian princes continued to draft men into their armed forces as they did before the invasion, but under the Mongol rule these troops were largely at the disposal of the khan.
Exaction of tribute was one of the chief concerns of the Golden Horde in dealing with the Russian dependency. There was a variety of new taxes and their assessment was based on census taken by the Tartars. Collection of tribute was at first in the hands of Mongol officials, but late this function was handed over to Russian grand dukes and princes. The most important direct tax was the "vykhod". Its total amount was determined by the Mongols and was then assessed by the local grand duke among the princes under his jurisdiction, who made the final allocation and then collected it. Direct extortions were heavy, among them being the provision of transportation, lodgings and maintenance for Mongol officials. No less burdensome were the frequent trips the princes had to make to Mongolia and Sarai to appear before the Khan. They usually brought their families and suitable presents for the Khan and his officials.
While the devastation wrought by the invasion was great, the conquerors made surprisingly few formal changes in the pattern of the Russian government. But one change was unmistakable: the source of all power was now the sovereign will of the khan of the Golden Horde. This meant in practice that the Russian princes had to be confirmed in office by their new suzerain and that all major issues were referred to the Golden Horde. The Mongols, however, seldom used their absolute powers in an arbitrary fashion. As a rule they showed respect for Russian traditional institutions and confirmed in office the princes who appeared to be entitled to it by precedent and custom. When more than one prince appeared to claim the position the khan usually selected the prince who promised to raise the most tribute. Thus the Russian people usually received a higher tax rate along with a new prince.
The dynastic position of some of the ruling families, as for instance the princes of Moscow, was strengthened by increasing the financial burdens of the people whom they governed. In many instances the princes came to be looked upon, not as spokesmen of local interests before the Mongol power, but as agents of the khan enforcing his edicts at the expense of the local people. Another significant change brought by the Mongols was the undermining of the constitutional position of the veche. After the conquest the veche was deprived of its traditional powers of making agreements with the princes and of expelling or inviting them. This loss of authority, combined with the devastation suffered by the commercial cities and the decline of trade during the opening decades of the Mongol rule, was responsible for the eclipse of the veche. With the exception of Novgorod and Pskov the veche ceased to meet in the middle of the fourteenth century.
The church fared poorly during the invasion. Monasteries and houses of worship were pillaged and burned, bishops and priests were butchered. After the conquest, however, the policies of the Golden Horde towards the church were more tolerant, humane and politically expedient. The status of the church was determined by decrees of the khan. Higher clergy like the princes were confirmed in office by the khan and the church agreed to pray publicly for the Mongol ruler and his family.
In return the church and the clergy were exempt from taxes and military service.
Anti-church propaganda was punishable by death and the church and its property was protected by the khan's agents. This cooperation proved to be mutually beneficial. It made if easier for the Mongols to rule Russia and it allowed the church to grow and increase its land holdings. In the long run it created difficulties between church and state by strengthening the material power and independence of the church.
Although trade was at first hampered by the invasions and disorders, it soon recovered and was actively promoted by the Mongols. Most of the trade was controlled by the Mongols but many native traders had a share of the profits. Trade with Western Europe was carried on chiefly through Novgorod, which was an outpost of the Hanseatic League.
From the Field of Kulikovo to the Ugra River The internal strife that developed in the Mongol empire towards the end of the thirteenth century and continued intermittently until its final disintegration offered the Russian princes opportunities to reassert their independence. In the 1360's a rebellion in southern China led to the severance of that territory and the breakdown of the Mongol empire. These difficulties let young prince, Dimitry of Moscow, to stop payment of the tribute. The khan then tried to force payment with a punitive invasion.
The Russians had no choice but to fight. Dimitry issued a call to arms, but few of Russia's princes responded. Yet enough of an army was raised to give the Russian forces under Dimitry an unexpected victory in 1380 at the Battle of Kulikovo near the Don. Dimitry thus received the name of Donskoy. This battle was the first and only major Russian victory over the Golden Horde and it added stature and luster to the grand dukes of Moscow.
However, the Tartars soon recovered and reasserted their domination of Russia.
They now interfered more directly in Russian affairs than before Kulikovo. More revolts and punitive expeditions followed for another whole century. Finally in the second half of the fifteenth century Moscow grew stronger and the Mongols weaker.
The leading Russian prince of this period was Ivan III of Moscow (1462-1505). The Golden Horde was ruled from 1460 to 1480 by Khan Akhmad.
Friction, presumably resulting from Russia's failure to provide tribute, led to a major Mongol invasion in 1472 which was accompanied by the destruction and burning of a number of cities. Two years latter Moscow was visited by a large Tartar embassy and a huge trade delegation comprising some 3000 merchants. New difficulties soon arose thereafter. When negotiations failed, Akhmad concluded an alliance with the king of Poland and the grand duke of Lithuania and in 1480 invaded Russia.
Ivan was reluctant to accept the challenge but was finally persuaded to assume command of the troops. The two found themselves facing each other across the Ugra River, a narrow stream that formed the boundary between Russia and Lithuania. They just stood there glaring at each other for months. Finally in November Akhmad suddenly retreated. Why Well his Polish and Lithuanian allies failed to send troops and a rival Tartar chieftain attacked one of his camps which contained Akhmad's wives and family. Soon after that Akhmad was assassinated by one of his countrymen. In this undramatic and unheroic fashion the "Tartar yoke" fell from the neck of Russia. The Golden Horde survived until 1502, when the Crimean Tartars delivered the final blow which terminated its existence as a state.
The Yoke in the Long Run: Determinant Influence Two and one half centuries of foreign rule are bound to leave a profound imprint on a subjugated nation. The influence of the Mongol tradition may be traced in the crude methods by which Russia's unification was achieved in the fifteenth century and in the character of the absolutist government that was to rule her for over 300 years. The conditions created by the invasion were probably instrumental in bringing about the destruction of the veche, although there is no assurance that this rudimentary form of democracy would have survived and would have grown into an institution of truly representative government even if the Tartars had never come to Russia. The military organization and administrative practices of Muscovy were probably also affected by Mongol institutions.
The social effects of the Mongol rule are more pronounced. There was a great deal of intermarriage and social intercourse between the Russian princes and members of the Russian upper class, on the one hand, and their opposite numbers in the Golden Horde, on the other. As the fortunes of Sarai declined and those of Moscow increased many Mongol notable switched their allegiance to Muscovy.
Many of these people became important Russian landowners. Many Mongols also entered the Russian administrative and military services. At the end of the 17th century about 17% of the Russian upper class were of Eastern, chiefly Mongol, origin.
There were also important cultural effects. Mongol domination retarded Russia's cultural development. It delayed for at least two centuries any contact between Russia and Europe, which was at that time the only fountain of progress and enlightenment. The Russian Middle Ages were barren of achievement in any field of creative endeavor, except perhaps that of icon painting, which reached high standards in the fifteenth century.
In the economic field the most spectacular development was that of the invasion. It took time before the Russian economy recovered from the devastation wrought, although the extremely low technical and economic levels prevalent during this period facilitated the task. Foreign trade, which came to a standstill with the conquest, revived substantially thereafter. There was little progress in agriculture and industry, but there is no evidence that these pursuits sank below their modest preMongol level. As with cultural endeavor it was a case of stagnation and arrested development rather than of deterioration and decline. The Russian economy, however, was severely affected by two manifestations of the Mongol rule: exaction of tribute, often exorbitant ones, and warlike action that took the form either of invasions of Russia or of foreign wars in which the Russians were forced to participate side by side with their masters.
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