Russians Adapt Byzantine Culture
ObjectivesKnow the location of the early Russians (the Rus/Slavs) and why this location was important vis--vis ConstantinopleKnow the influence of the VikingsKnow the importance of KievKnow why the Christianization of Kiev was important, who did it (Vladimir I), and what the conversion process was.Know who Vladimir I and Yuroslav the Wise wereKnow who the Mongols were and what effect the Mongolian conquering and occupation had on the region.Know what Ivan III did
So you have these guys living up north of the Black Sea. Theyre the Slavs.
The Slavs were a tribal people that, given their location and proximity to Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire generally, naturally started trading with the Byzantines.They also get some Viking influence as the Vikings migrate down to the region.
Ok, not those Vikings. They couldnt conquer anything right now. These Vikings.
While the Vikings were a seafaring people, they did migrate over land and by river to the interior of Europe.
The Vikings become rulers of the Slavic people in the region in the mid-9th century. They settle down and integrate into the culture.
Hi. Im Rurik. Were Vikings. Mind if we integrate with you?Please do. We dont know how to rule ourselves.
The city of Kiev is founded around 880 and it becomes the primary city of the region (its currently the capital of Ukraine).Prince Oleg moves the capital there from Novgorod.He also launches a raid against Constantinople in 907, resulting in a trade agreement in 911.
The Rus were in a nice trading location.
The Christianization of KievKiev becoming Christian was significant and was a multi-stage process.The ruling regent, Olga, first accepts Eastern Orthodox Christianity while visiting Constantinople.Her son, Sviatoslav, refused to adopt it, though, and stuck to his pagan religion because he was afraid converting would make him look weak to his men.
I like Christianity!
Christianity? Ummm no, thanks
Its not until Olgas grandson Vladimir takes power in Kiev that you see real change.He was originally a committed pagan who built many temples and may have engaged in human sacrifice.Vladimir wants to switch from paganism to monotheism, but needs to decide on which version.So on the advice of his boyars (nobles), he sends out emissaries to Bulgarian Muslims, Jewish people in Turkey or central Asia, German Roman Catholics, and to the Eastern Orthodox in Constantinople.According to legend, the emissaries to the Muslims found them drab and full of sorrow. They also didnt like the prohibitions against pork and drinking. Especially the drinking.
The emissaries to the Jews thought they had been abandoned by God since they had lost their great city of Jerusalem and its temple centuries ago and hadnt gotten it back.The emissaries to the Roman Catholics found the German churches drab and gloomy.The guys who went to Constantinople, though, were amazed by the splendor of the Hagia Sophia. They reported they didnt know if they were in Heaven or still on Earth.
So Vladimir chooses to convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity.In reality, the choice was as much political as spiritual. Vladimir wanted a closer relationship with his powerful, wealthy neighbor. It was also part of a military alliance.
But I get to keep the wine, right?
Vladimir is baptized and then destroys all the pagan idols in Kiev.He then tells all of Kievs citizens to come down to the Dnieper River the next day lest they become the princes enemies.They do and the city is baptized en masse into the Orthodox religion.While there may have been political overtones, Vladimir took his conversion seriously he built churches, gave alms, brought in Greek missionaries to educate folks.
Vladimir is eventually killed during fighting between him and some of his former pagan wives (he had seven total and they were multinational) and their sons.He at one point had a few hundred concubines and one guy labeled him a great profligate. In Latin, thats fornicator maximus.
The aftereffects, though, are that Kiev and the surrounding region have much closer ties to the Byzantines and start taking on some aspects of the culture. Their churches, for example, were based on the Byzantine model.They are also exposed to Greek philosophy, science, etc.Its also at this time that the Cyrillic alphabet, developed by Saints Cyril and Methodius in the mid-800s, really takes hold.The alphabet was designed for writing down the Slavic languages.
Its also at this time that the Cyrillic alphabet, developed by Saints Cyril and Methodius in the mid-800s, really takes hold.
The alphabet was designed for writing down the Slavic languages.
Vladimir continues to establish and solidify the Kievan territory.His son Yaroslav takes over in 1019, although his rule wasnt uncontested until 1036.
Helped to strengthen Kievan power.Wanted to weaken Byzantine influence in Kiev, so he launched an unsuccessful raid against Constantinople.Still wanted close ties, though, and the treaty involved marrying off one of his sons to the emperors daughter.
Also arranged several other marriages with European royalty.Developed a law code, a first for Eastern Slavic people, known as the Justice of Rus.Built many churches.
The one big unwise thing he did took place after he died in 1054.Typically, the throne goes to the eldest son (primogeniture).Yaroslav, though, opted to divide things among his sons NEVER a good idea. The sons proceed to fight against each other to get power and territory.Then they divide things among their sons and it just gets worse.
The big problem for Kiev, though, was the Mongol invasion.The Mongols were a nomadic people from the steppes of central Asia.They were tribal but around 1200 were united under the leadership of Genghis Khan. They rampage all over the place.
The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters. Have a nice day.
Ill kill you.
According to many perspectives in different times, the Mongols:were destroyers of civilizationswere ruthless uncivilized barbarianswere evil forces against Christians, Buddhists, Confucians, or Muslims
In other places, they (especially Genghis Khan) are revered.
They lived on horseback.Ate there, slept there, spent a week or more there.Especially fought from there.Opposing armies were not prepared for this style of rapid, mobile warfare.
Mongolian horses were slightly smaller than most other breeds and would lose in a race.BUT they were tough and the Mongols fought much lighter than most of their opponents, so they could still outmaneuver, outlast, and go faster than their enemies.
Compare it to Medieval European horses like the Ardennes, big and bulky for carrying heavy armored knights.
They were also used for lots of things.Mmmm horse milk.
The main weapons were the scimitar, axe, and bow.Heavier cavalry also used lances.
The Mongols were skilled horsemen and mounted archers. Their bows were the best of the time.
They were composite bows (meaning they were layered and laminated together).Their draw weight was 100-170 pounds and had an effective range of 350 yards.Compare this to the celebrated English longbow which had a draw weight of 70-80 pounds and a range of 250 yards.
Soldiers would even have special arrows, such as whistling signaling arrows.
How to shoot a Mongolian bow.
How not to let someone teach you how to use a Mongolian bow.
They created the largest land-based empire in human history.
At its peak, the Mongolian Empire covered 12.7 million square miles, roughly 22% of the earths land surface.
At any rate, the Mongols were powerful and fearsome warriors. The used terror and fear to keep conquered peoples in line and to get unconquered peoples to willingly submit.At its height, the Mongols had a massive empire.
Red =Mongol EmpireBy 1294 the empire had split into:Yellow =Golden HordeDark Green =Chagatai KhanateLight Green =IlkhanatePurple = Yuan Dynasty (Great Khanate)
The Mongols conquer Kiev in 1240 under Genghiss grandson Batu Khan.The Rus put up a fierce fight, but eventually fall to the Great Khan. The city is decimated as an example to others.Kiev was already weakened due to the fracturing following Yaroslav and because of the Crusaders sacking of Constantinople in 1204.With the Byzantines in decline, Kiev got less trade income from them.Its the one and only time in history in which Russia is successfully invaded and conquered.
Kiev and the surrounding region become part of the Mongolian Empire. It falls under the administrative district called the Khanate of the Golden Horde.The Mongols were actually relatively benign rulers.They were more concerned with money than with culture. So as long as you recognized their authority and didnt rebel, and kept paying your taxes, they would leave you alone.People could continue practicing their religions and cultures and keep their laws.If you did try rebelling, the punishment was swift and severe.
Many Russian nobles, such as Nevsky, recognized that it was better to work with and for the Mongols than against them. So they put down revolts and collected taxes.Better they crush the revolt than their Mongol o