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Kiev Rus And Moscovy: An Early Russian History

1872 words - 7 pages

Prior to its empirialization, Russian history can be broken down into three periods: Kiev Rus’, the conquering by the Golden Horde, and the rise of the Muskovy principality. These three different periods of Russian history shaped major events and influential mindsets that would change the world. The weak economy, coupled with a lack of natural barriers to hinder invaders, an orthodoxy that accepted things as mysterious without pursuing reasonable answers, and a state of constant fear due to foreign domination and a national autocracy kept early Russia weak and insignificant to medieval world affairs. Rus was, as far as is known, inhabited by mainly Slavic and Finnish peoples around the early ninth century, who were primarily agriculturalists and whose land, created by these peoples by a “slash and burn” method of deforestation, (Freeze 3) was centered in a forested area of eastern Europe and stretched between the Dnieper, western Dvina, Lovat-Volkhov, and Volga rivers (Freeze 3). Two main Viking tribes nearby that traded and plundered wherever they could, the Varangians and the Rus, eventually settled into the land that would eventually carry one of their names. Upon conquering the Slav and Finnish tribes, the Rus and Varangians named themselves princes and enslaved the inhabitants establishing the stratification system that would embody Russian politics for centuries. From the very emergence of Russian society it was already under the power of a foreign prince, totalitarian autocracy was to be Kiev’s governmental system. The first new ruler written about was Prince Riurik (Freeze 3), who died in either 879 or 882 AD. According to Scandinavian tradition the king’s lands were then split among male heirs (Freeze 4) which would be the downfall of Kiev in about two hundred and fifty years. Even during some king’s lifetime he would give parts of his kingdom to his son’s dominion in order to have as long of a reach as possible. His son Oleg and grandson Igor warred against Constantinople (Freeze 3) which resulted in a loss but also allowed Kiev to establish trade rights in Byzantium.Even though Kiev had now created commerce with a “Christian Empire” it was itself still of a pagan belief system. It was not until the reign of a Kievan prince by the name of Vladimir, did Kiev take the first steps necessary to Christianize the populace. Vladimir, at first gathered all of the Nordic, Slavic, Finnish and Iranian idols in the city and compiled them at the top of a hill just outside the city for all the people to worship freely together (Freeze 5), but soon after converted to Christianity. To do so he had to give up numerous wives and married Princess Anna, the sister of Byzantine Emperor Basil in 988AD (Freeze 5). Subsequent to this momentous occasion the entire populace of Kiev was baptized in the Dnieper River (but not necessarily converted) to signify the principality’s new allegiance and the Church of the...

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