How Byzantium and Mongolia Fed Russian Glory
by
Philip Acciarito

    The Slavic transformation from a group of nearby bands into a huge civilization it is today has much to do with not only their power, but also other powers that aided in creating such a unique culture.  The Byzantine Empire that formed under the emperor Justinian had been centered around Christianity in many events.  The East-Asian ruthless power of fierce Mongols ruled Russia with brutality and strict ruling.  The combination of quite different ideology created a unique culture of Russia.

    Though the power of the Byzantine Empire had been dwindling, it had not yet abdicated its dynamic trading power, while the rule of Yaroslav the Great in Russia had reached summit in Russia, during 1019 to 1054.  Located in the midst of Persia, Russia, Europe and other parts of the Middle East and Mediterranean, it began to form many trading alliances, in succession to the strategic location.  One of which was the Russian people.  Having such a powerful trading partner, Russia would grow in prestige.  They had come to learn that the fur, lumber and honey they made us of would be of interest to others.  Sooner or later, the Russian people would develop an organized system for such trade to be possible.  Trade required standards, rules and would lead to an ensemble of Russian people.  The Russians would have to decide on prices and economic decisions.  How much to consume, how much to produce.  A source of revenue would come to Russia from this valuable trade.  This also included the production of a merchant class to sell goods to the people of Russia, and new ideas of Byzantine would flourish in Russia.  One of the ideas, Christianity, would rub on to Russian nobles.  This occurrence would influence the people of Russia to change in life-dependant operations.  It gave the government officials a break from life; it meant worshipping and following God’s rules.  Holy people would come to being, which would help to inhibit crime throughout the land.  Since Christianity required reading the Bible, the people of Russia would become educated in having a Cyrillic alphabet.  Christianity would also control how people would look upon others.  It noticed the Mongol people as devil-like.  Having the idea of a religion introduced to them for the first time would give people a hope for salvation in the next life.

    With Christianity predominant, the idea of a close connection of the State and Church had come in accession.  The emperor would rule the Church, which would unify the people under a single religion and way of life to prevent conflict of different ideas.  However, the emperors would look at Christianity as a political advantage, rather than spiritual phenomenon.  The state would gain power by building lavish churches, where many would attend.  Yaroslav The Great pursued this idea with anticipation.  The Church would come to dictate the power of the state, depending on where the churches were located.

    When the Mongols came to power in the mid 1200’s, a different path of interaction with Russia had been chosen, far different from the contrasting Byzantine scheme of trade alliance.  From the Asian steppe, the Mongol individual at average had been a brutal nomad.  In constant exposure to danger at primitive life, a tough spirit had come apparent in each of the Mongols.  With a gain of power in eastern Asia, the Mongols invaded the prosperous Russian city of Kiev.  By demanding taxes, the Russians developed a mutual hate of Mongolians.  They would be recognized as one group of people under a common empire, although they were forced to submit to Mongolian supremacy.  Having this connection to Mongolia, they would become isolated from European trade.  The Russians depended on Europe for religion and income.  As Europeans would develop new ideas, the Russians would compete to develop even better inventions.  This constant competition would lead to a mutual advance in society.  Being cut from this trade would inhibit Russian power in this way.  If the Mongols had not impacted Russia enough, they began conscripting Russia’s talented workers to complete temples for their own power advancements in China under the Yuan Dynasty.  The Russians would have a nature of being a surrounding city of the true power of the empire—China.  Not having talented artists and builders would prevent bliss in Russian culture.  They would be forced to become recognized as Mongol subjects.

    It can clearly be stated that Mongol rule had hurt the general power of Russia as an empire.  It cannot, however, be overlooked that Mongolia had sought to create a single power.  Russia may have been viewed as a victim, yet still strongly suggested a part of a huge (world’s biggest) empire.  The Russians had previously been a group of small bands who focused on their own land.  Opening the Russians to the world, Byzantine powers would not only distribute to Russia many cultural aspects that had been successful in their empire, but the Russians would adapt the Byzantine procedure of thought.  The Church as a plus to Russia since it would be practiced in a local language, but their ideas would give Russia the advantage to gain power.  The idea, practiced by Byzantine emperors, to marry powerful figures of other societies to gain power would take course in Russian power as well.  Ivan III, a practitioner of this technique, would open Russia’s boundaries to the modern sovereign power that it presently is; this proving, Byzantium had fed Russia its glory, further undertaken by Mongolia.


Article © 2005 Philip Acciarito.

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