The Russian Empire

Explain the origins of Russian culture, the period of Mongol rule, and the emergence of the Russian Empire.


by ely

Russia's first territory originated west of the Ural Mountains in the region that runs from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.Hilly grasslands are found inthe extreme south of that area.The north, however, is densely forested, flat, and swampy. Slow-moving, interconnecting rivers allow boat travel across these plains in almost any direction.

In the early days of the Byzantine Empire, these forests were inhabited by tribes of Slavic farmers and traders. They spoke similiar languages but had no political unity. Sometime in the 800s, small bands of adventurers came down among them from the north. They were most likely Vikings. Eventually these Vikings built forts along the rivers and settled among the Slavs.

Russian legend says the Slavs invited the Viking chief Rurik to be their king. So in 862, he founded Novgorod, Russia's first important cit. That acount is given in "The Primary Chronicle", a history of Russia written by monks inthe early 1100s. And so from here the beggining of The Russian Empire.

From Kiev, the Vikings could sail by river and sea to Constantinople. There they could tarde for products from distant lands.It grew into a small state ruled by a prince. As it did, the Viking nobles intermarried with their Slavic subjects and adopted many aspects of Slavic culture. Gradually, the line between Slavs and Vikings vanished.
In 957, a member of the Kievan nobility, Princess Olga, paid a visit to Constantinople and publicly converted to Christianity.From 945 to 964, she governed Kiev until her son was old enough to rule. Her son resisted Christianity. However, soon after Olga's grandson Vladimir came to throne about 980, he considered conversion to Christianity.

In A.D. 988 Prince Vladimir made the Byzantine variant of Christianity the state religion of Russia . The Russian church was subordinate to the patriarch of Constantinople , seat of the Byzantine Empire. The original seat of the metropolitan, as the head of the church was known, was Kiev. As power moved from Kiev to Moscow in the fourteenth century, the seat moved as well, establishing the tradition that the metropolitan of Moscow is the head of the church. In the Middle Ages, the church placed strong emphasis on asceticism, which evolved into a widespread monastic tradition. Large numbers of monasteries were founded in obscure locations across all of the medieval state of Muscovy. Such small settlements expanded into larger population centers, making the monastic movement one of the bases of social and economic as well as spiritual life.

After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Russian Orthodox Church evolved into a semi-independent (autocephalous) branch of Eastern Christianity. In 1589 the metropolitan of Moscow received the title of patriarch. Nevertheless, the Russian church retained the Byzantine tradition of authorizing the head of state and the government bureaucracy to participate actively in the church's administrative affairs. Separation of church and state thus would be almost unknown in Russia.

World History Book, by: McDougal Littell

Russia's Birth

Russia's first unified territory began to the west of the Ural Mountains in the region the runs from the Black sea to the Baltic sea. to the south you can find hilly grasslands and to the north dense forests, flat, and swampy land. three great rivers, the Dnieper, the Don, and the Volga, run from the heart of the forests to the Black Sea or the Caspian Sea.
these forests were inhabited by the Slavic tribes. small bands of adventurers came down from the north, the vikings. the vikings then built forts along the rivers and settled among the Slavs.

Kiev Becomes Orthodox

Princess Olga, paid a visit to Constantinople and publicly converted to Christianity. She governed Kiev until her son was old enough to rule, she ruled 19 years. Her son was different from her since he resisted Christianity. After her son got off the throne, her grand-son Vladimir came to throne and he considered the conversion of Christianity. Vladimir sent teams to observe the major religions of the times. After the research he was convinced to convert to Byzantine Christianity and to make all his subjects convert. All citizens of Kiev became baptized. Vladimir also imported teachers to instruct the people in the new faith. All the beliefs and traditions of the Orthodox Christianity flourished in Kiev, He also appreciated the Byzantine idea of the emperor as supreme ruler of the Church. So the close link between Church and state took root in Russia as well.


*The Mongol Invasions*

In the mid-1200s, the Mongols, a group of ferocious horsemen, nomads, from central Asia made their way, brutally into Russia. Mongols had come into the scene during the ruling of Genghis Khan at the beginning of the 1200s. Genghis Khan was one of the most feared warrior of the time. It is said that the Mongols were forced out of their territory due to economic or military pressures, and they may have been attracted by the wealth the cities of the west contained. They rode across the steppes of Asia and into Europe to Russia, killing and burning cities along the way, and earning the reputation of being the most brutal of them all. When Genghis Khan died in 1227, the Mongols continued his conquering plans, and ended up stretching the Mongol Empire from the Yellow Sea to the Baltic Sea and from the Himalayas to northern Russia.


In 1240, Batu Khan, who is Genghis's grandson, led the Mongols and attacked Kiev. They attacked destructively all the inhabitants of the area. A Catholic bishop reported five years after the attack, that when they passed through the area that was being attacked, they could see heads and bones on the floor. The Mongols ruled southern Russia for 200 years and named the empire as "Khanate of the Golden Horde". This name had its own meaning, Khanate means kingdom's, Golden because it was the loyal color of the Mongols and Horde means camp.


The Mongol rule in Russia

Under the Mongol rule, the Russians could follow all their usual customs, as long they made no attempts to rebel. As fierce as they were, the Mongols tolerated all religions in their realms. The Mongols just demanded two things from the Russians: absolute obedience and massive amounts of tributes, or payments. By and large, the Russian nobles agreed. Novgorod´s prince and military hero Alexander Nevsky, for example, advised his fellow princes to cooperate with the Mongols. Mongol rule isolated the Russians more than ever from their neighbors in Western Europe. This meant that among other things, the Russians had little access to many new ideas and inventions.


Moscow’s Powerful Princes

Princes in Moscow emerged which tried and were a challenge to Mongol rule. In 1320 Prince Ivan I was respected by the Mongols since he was a great help in crushing a revolt that had tried to defeat the Mongol rule. They had so much gratitude or what he had done, that they named Prince Ivan I the official tax collector of all the Slavic Lands the Mongols had conquered and gave him the title of “Grand Prince”, which was a great step for Ivan I, who became the most powerful prince in Russia since he was accepted by the Mongols. He acquired not only power for what he had done but also loads of money, people calling him “Ivan Moneybag”, just imagine how much money he had.

He made the Patriarch of Kiev to move to Moscow. This would bring popularity and power to Moscow, while at the same time unified Ivan I with the Church-an ally you could really use at the time. He didn’t stop there, Oh No He Didn’t! He kept using people, buying lands, and getting married just for power. He and the generations after him kept tricking people just to gain a further control of Moscow.

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