Month: July 2014

Mongols in Russia – two major changes they brought

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Throughout the course of the history of every nation, there are many subcultures and tribal societies which later form a whole new society into one body. Russia is far from being an exception from the rule. Being a massive empire, Russia and its society were in close proximity of being under the influence of many cultures, within and outside the empire’s territory. Therefore, it would be reasonable for us to consider the influence of one another large empire- the Mongol empire and its significant heritage which was imparted on the Russian during the 13th century.

It was the time of the first half of the 13 century, which precisely was 1219, when the Mongols made their first appearance near the Kievan Russia. Those year, was part of the long chain of troubles,which took place in Russian society. The empire was divided among different tribes, one of the most powerful of them was the Polovts, which were struggling for power and authority. The Mongols arrived as an opposition against the abovementioned tribe, which was seeking the Rus princes council in order their power to be officially accepted. Here, there is highly controversial information, which states that according to the historical records, despite being apprehensive regarding the situation, the Mongols did not practice any kind of violence or harm the Russian people in any possible way. Moreover, the Mongols’ aims towards Russia encompassed only peaceful intentions, but the Russian Kiev did not embrace that whole-heartedly, quite the opposite they mistrusted the new-comers. That was enough to destroy the good intentions of the former, adding that the Mongol emissaries were assassinated by Russian soldiers.

Consequently, Russia had to pay the prise of its mistrust with nothing,but blood. Within the period of 20 years, Batu Khan took his armies throughout the Russian territory, and one by one the principalities such as Ryazan, Moscow, Vladimir, Suzdal were subdued to his power. Innumerous is the number of the people who were slaughtered, captured or tortured as a result of it. Sooner, Kiev was sacked and almost destroyed under Batu’s power. Those bloody events led to inevitability of change which took place in the Russian history, culture, art, society and religion. It seems as if every major chance takes place in the form of violence and later submission.

The Church

In such a turbulent times, without political or any form of social entity, the church represented the only beacon of hope for the Russian people. That was the moment, which led to the straightening the church authority almost everywhere in the empire, it was the rebirth of the new independent body whose objectives were to impose larger control. For the first time, the Orthodox Church was not dependent on princely power and was expelled from being subject of dominance by both Mongols and Russian aristocracy. If someone dared to do the opposite, there was only one penalty –death.

People initially held the widespread belief that the Mongols were send to them in response to their sins and they would be punished for all the indulgences which they practiced. It was more as a psychological response to the shock they encountered after being treated in such an atrocious way by the invaders. The people turned their souls and hearts to the only possible crumb of comfort they were able to find at that time – their faith.

Following that, the main mission of the Orthodox Church gathered momentum while luring more and more people to its convention. Prompting the radical spread of Christianity within the wide territories of Russia and exterminating the last traces of pagan practices.

Last,but not least, after Mongol invasion, the Church encountered another fundamental change. Before that, the major eclectical center of the Holy See was in Kiev, then it was moved to Vladimir in 1299 before finally took its place in Moscow, which boosted the significance of the town even more.

Moscow

Speaking of this great town,it is somewhat ambiguous how it remained almost hundred year in shadows after it’s founded in 1147. Moscow is a town with perfect location, suited on the point of three major roads which interlinked it with Kiev. Moreover, the location predisposes to trade due to the Moscow river which connects itself with Oka and Volga rivers.

At the time of the Mongols’dominance, Tver and Moscow were in battle for power, which escalated in 1327 with the rebellion of the former town. That was a perfect opportunity for Prince Ivan I of Moscow to gain prominence in the eyes of Mongol overlords, he putted end to the riots in Tver. This was the first step forward for Moscow to thrive as later the Mongols granted the town to be responsible for tax-collection duties across the countryside. Thus led to major fundamental change in the consolidated power and influence, Moscow made its major turning point in being place of dominance in Russia.

However, the following years were not peaceful ones, as there were series of battles between Prince Dmitrii and the Mongol khans as the both powers crashed into one another in devastating battles, trying to gain greater influence over one another. Everything started in 1376 when Dmitrii attacked successfully Kazan khanate , by that Russia openly questioned not for the first time the Mongols’ dominance. Despite the devastating loss of 100,000 men, Dmitrii defeated the mongol’s general Mamai, making for himself a place in the history as Dmitrii Donskoi (of the Don).

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