IS KIEVIAN RUS` OR THE GOLDEN HORDE?
So, is modern Russia a continuation of Kievan Rus or the Golden Horde?
IS KIEVIAN RUS` OR THE GOLDEN HORDE?
According to written sources and the results of archaeological excavations, the Slavs* in the VI-VII centuries. settled in Central and Eastern Europe. And before that, peoples engaged in cattle breeding and hunting lived on these lands. In the IV-IX centuries. devastating raids by the Huns, Goths, Avars, Magyars and other nomads passed through the territory of today's Russia, and cattle grazed on the vast plains. They, like other peoples who inhabited these lands, first were engaged in cattle breeding and hunting, but then, having adopted a sedentary lifestyle, they took up agriculture. In order to carry skins and other hunting trophies from those lands, as well as amber, which was mined in the coastal regions of the Baltic, people living along the shores of the Black Sea were driven there into slavery.[i]
It is customary to divide the Slavs into eastern and western. In this case, we will focus on the Eastern Slavs. For the first time they began to create their statehood in the 9th century, and at the end of the 10th century they formed the state of Kievan Rus. In 988, the prince of Kievan Rus Volodymyr*converted to Christianity, and Kiev was baptized.
For a long time Eastern Europe was under the control of the Scandinavian conquerors, they say that even the name Rus comes from them. The Rurik dynasty, which ruled Russia for many years, descended from the Jutland nobles from Denmark.
Many researchers disagree with the fact that today's Russians consider themselves to be immigrants, i.e. descendants of Kievan Rus. Kiev Rus, i.e. modern Ukrainians, even before the seizure of their territory by the Muscovites in the 16th century, for many years obeyed the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[ii] According to the testimony of Plano Carpini, who visited Kiev six years after its capture by the Mongols, the capital of Rus turned into a town with no more than 200 houses. When the Mongols conquered the eastern and southern parts of Kievan Rus, the remaining Russian princes began to seek protection from the Lithuanian rulers. In 1299 Kiev lost its last metropolitan attribute - the residence of the metropolitan. In 1362 the city was finally annexed to Lithuania.[iii]
Muscovites, who gained their independence after almost three hundred years of “yoke” under the Golden Horde, in order to somehow erase this part of history, tried to call themselves the descendants of the Byzantines, Romans, and also Kievan Rus.[iv] The father of Ivan the Terrible, Prince Vasily III of Moscow, even proclaimed Moscow the “Third Rome”. He was the first ruler to be proclaimed “The Great Sovereign of All Russia”. And Ivan the Terrible in 1547 received the ancient Greek and Roman title tsar (Caesar in Latin and Kaiser in Greek).
The term "Mongol-Tatar yoke" (jugum tartaricum) was first introduced by the Polish historian Jan Dlugosz.* He tried to prove that the Russians were a nation that had been separated from Europe for many years under Mongol rule. and that they were aliens in terms of civilization, culture and origin, not European citizenship. Later, Russian historians used this word to change its meaning.* It is true that the Russian people have long been oppressed by the Mongols, but this means that they are real Europeans who overcame this suffering.
Starting from the 20th century, especially after the Second World War, Soviet historians began to actively promote the idea that Soviet Russians are direct descendants of the Kievan Rus who were under the yoke of the Mongol-Tatar oppressors, and the Russian state is the successor of Kievan Rus. The famous historian Norman Davis writes that “the events of the Middle Ages cannot be forcibly linked to the present. Kievan Rus was a state, society and people that existed without Muscovites, but later Muscovites put forward a different theory."[v]
There have been many empires in history, consisting of different peoples. So, for example, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, such nationalities as the French, Spaniards, Italians, etc. were formed. Also, the Slavs who migrated from Byzantium split into Poles, Czechs, Rusichs, etc. And Rusichs into Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and other nationalities. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, many of these peoples began to create their own statehood. They criticize that Russians still do not want to separate the concept of independence of nations and empires.[vi]
* * *
In the XII century, Kievan Rus disintegrated. Novgorod, as well as its western, northwestern, southeastern parts, became independent. It was during this time that Mongol troops attacked Russia and united it, then creating the Golden Horde with the capital Sarai on the banks of the Volga instead of Kiev, which had burned to the ground.
From the fragmented Kievan Rus, only the Novgorod prince Alexander* went over to the side of the Mongols. Thanks to this, Alexander managed to defeat the German crusaders on the banks of the Neva in 1242. There, the end of the constant sorties of the crusaders, which continued for many centuries, was laid. Because The power of Prince Alexander, who became an ally of the Mongols, became noticeably stronger, then the Eastern Slavs began to unite under his banner. Alexander Nevsky (so they began to call him in honor of the victory on the Neva) is the first historical hero of Russia. Thanks to his merits, the Eastern Slavs, i.e. Novgorodians laid the foundation for the birth of one of the most powerful nations of the modern world.
According to some reports, Batu Khan adopted Alexander Nevsky, and his father Yaroslav* was sent to Mongolia and killed there. By the decree of Batu Khan, the former Grand Duke of Kiev, Novgorod and Vladimir Yaroslav was sent to Karakorum in 1246 to take part in the inauguration of Guyuk Khan. The mother of Khan Turakina-Khatun, as a sign of respect, from her hands presented the Russian prince with a spell with a strong drink. When, a few days later, Prince Yaroslav fell seriously ill and died suddenly, they say that his body was all blue.[vii]
On the same day, the second of the three most influential princes Mikhail Vsevolodovich* was killed in the Golden Horde.[viii] Perhaps all this was done so that all power would go only to Alexander.
After the death of his father in 1247, Alexander met with Batu, and then went to Mongolia, and only two years later returned from Karakorum to his homeland. He, who had the support of the Mongols, was asked to rule over Kiev, but he refused. Since Kiev, turned into ruins, did not have its former significance, it became the Grand Duke of Novgorod. This was the beginning of the birth of Russia. In the all-Russian poll "The Name of Russia" conducted in 2008, Alexander Nevsky was named the person who made the greatest contribution to the history of Russia[ix] (in fact, Stalin was named such a person, but after the first round of the poll his name was pushed back).
* * *
Some sources of history write that Dmitry Donskoy overthrew the rule of the Golden Horde, winning the Battle of Kulikovo. But since the Battle of Kulikovo is not mentioned anywhere, except for Russian sources, from this we can conclude that this was a local skirmish.[x] In fact, Dmitry defeated the impostor Mamai, who proclaimed himself a representative of the descendants of Chinggis Khan, and when Tokhtamysh Khan defeated Mamai and occupied Moscow the next year, Dmitry fled from it.
The troops of Tamerlane, who were gaining strength at that time, constantly raided the Golden Horde and thereby greatly weakened it. This became one of the main reasons that led to the collapse of the Golden Horde in the 15th century, i.e. Tamerlane was more involved in the collapse of the Golden Horde, and not Prince Dmitry.
Later, Khan Uzbek, who established his power in Sarai, attracted the Muscovites in the struggle against Novgorod and Pskov. Khan Uzbek fully supported Prince Ivan Kalita,* who took power in Moscow. Promoting rapprochement between Moscow and Constantinople through the Crimea, which was under his control, became the reason for the Muscovites to become the driving force behind the unification of the Eastern Slavs.
When Shchelkan,* a cousin of Khan Uzbek, was in Tver, an uprising broke out there, during which he and his escort were killed. This was the first uprising against the Golden Horde. In the struggle for dominance over all of Russia, Moscow and Tver vied for the support of the Golden Horde. Moscow prince Ivan Kalita shrewdly took advantage of the mistake of Tver, urgently went to Sarai and expressed his readiness to take part in suppressing the uprising.[xi] So, Ivan Kalita, having received the title of “Grand Duke” from the Golden Horde in 1328, became head and shoulders above the rest.[xii] Later, when a conflict arose between Moscow and Novgorod, Prince Ivan I also received the support of Khan Uzbek of the Golden Horde.
* * *
When troubles arose within the state, Tsar Ivan the Terrible had the habit of disappearing for a while. So, in the spring of 1576, he invited Simeon Bekbulatovich to the throne,* and the next year he drove him from the throne. This Simeon was actually the great-great-grandson of the last khan of the Golden Horde Akhmat named Saynbold (Sain-Bulat Khan). They say that by this the tsar of the newly-made Russia was able to prove that he was the successor of the Golden Horde. In fact, Ivan the Terrible, on his father's side, was the grandson of Dmitry Donskoy, and on his mother's side, a descendant of his sworn enemy Mamai.
Long before Ivan the Terrible, the descendants of the Rurikovichs, competing with each other, sought to marry the daughters of the descendants of Genghis Khan and thereby obtain special rights and privileges. In the event of a dispute, the nobles raced to the Golden Horde with all sorts of gifts and those who had a higher rank were more likely to win the dispute.
The displacement of the blood of the Russians with the Mongols, Tatars and representatives of the Turkic peoples became more and more widespread, and thus they began to distance themselves more and more from the Europeans.
Due to the fact that Ivan did not have an heir to the throne, after him Boris Godunov was elected tsar, who was proud of the fact that he was of Mongol-Tatar origin. As the Golden Horde weakened, power began to gradually pass to the Russians. This lasted almost four centuries and ended when Empress Catherine II defeated the Crimean Tatars, who were the last successors of the Golden Horde. During this long time, there was a process of assimilation by the Russians of the descendants of the Turkic-Mongol peoples. During this time, the Russians themselves also mixed with Turkic-Mongolian blood. It is not for nothing that there is a saying that “if you scratch a Russian, you will find a Tatar”.
* * *
The Eastern Slavs, who were under the “sanctions” of the Baltic and Byzantine states, thanks to the Mongols, not only freed themselves from the “sanctions”, but also became an integral part of the world political and trade network reaching India, Persia, China and Egypt.
The great legacy left by the Mongols in Russia was a powerful state system. This state system did not emerge by itself, but was created by the Mongols from top to bottom and from outside and from within. It should be noted that the Russian state, with a powerful state and religious center in Moscow, since its inception, no one has ever won.
The basis of a powerful state was the Orthodox religion. The transfer of the Cathedral of St. Peter the Metropolitan to Moscow had the following goal: firstly, away from foreign enemies, and secondly, closer under the protection of the Mongols.[xiii] The Mongols especially supported the Orthodox religion and in every possible way contributed to its development. A decree was even issued on the protection of Orthodox churches, churches were exempted not only from all types of taxes and fees, they were also given the right to collect fees themselves. Moscow became the seat of the metropolitans of Kiev and All Russia.[xiv]
Moscow gained the most from Mongol domination. When the Mongols captured Moscow in 1237, it was a small fortification, therefore it is almost not mentioned in historical sources. It began to develop only after it became a place for collecting tribute for the Golden Horde. Soon Moscow turned into a large city with stone cathedrals and mansions, fenced off by strong fortress walls. A descendant of the Ruriks, the Moscow prince Ivan I, after receiving the title “Grand Duke” from Khan Uzbek, became the dominant one among all the princes. By 1399, he had an army of 170 thousand soldiers under his command.[xv] The transformation of Moscow into the center of the Russian land was also facilitated by the constant assistance of the Golden Horde to Moscow for its confrontation against the Baltic Lithuanians gaining strength.
The invasion of the Mongols and their long-term domination, firstly, destroyed the culture of Kievan Rus; secondly, it divided the Eastern and Western Slavs; thirdly, not only laid the foundation for the emergence of Muscovites, but also contributed to their transformation into the dominant force among the Eastern Slavs.
Since the formation of new Russia by Alexander Nevsky, i.e. Muscovites, it turned into an eastern state, different from European ones, as the community of people with their culture, religion, way of life and thinking. Many sources, as well as the results of comparative studies of different times, "blame" this on the Mongols. It is believed that the Mongols undermined the traditions inherited by the Russians from the Byzantines, as a result of which their policies became more brutal.
The difference between nomadic Mongols and communities engaged in agriculture is to get as much wealth as possible in a short time. To do this, they created a tax collection system by attracting representatives of the local nobility. Russian nobles, who became tax collectors, then became the founders of the Russian state. It was in this peculiar way that the Mongols raised several generations of rulers of the Russian land.
For the first time in the history of Russia, the rulers of the Golden Horde conducted a population census. They planted governors of the Golden Horde in all lands, who were responsible for collecting taxes, postal service and military fees. Thanks to this, Russia, stretching over a huge territory, has managed to become united. Over time, most of the Golden Horde became the territory of Tsarist Russia, then the Soviet Union, and now the Russian Federation.Grand Duke Ivan III, annexing Novgorod and Tver, created the basis for the formation of a powerful Russian state.
After gaining independence, Russia, in continuation of the traditions adopted from the Mongols, immediately embarked on wars of conquest in order to expand its territory. Within just one century, its territory has increased many times over. The main driving force of the Moscow state was not mercenaries, but oprichniks*, who made up the middle class and were eager to get estates for themselves. They were not regular troops, but gathered at the call of their princes and after military affairs received land allotments as a reward.[xvi] As a result of this, after several centuries, they reached the Pacific Ocean. Russia, which turned into an eastern state, bypassing the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, which changed Europe, entered a new era almost unchanged.
The wide cheekbones and narrow eyes of the great Leo Tolstoy seem to confirm the words he himself allegedly said that “if you don’t have a drop of Mongolian blood, then what kind of Russian you are”. The largest legacy left by the Mongols in Russia is the Russians themselves.
So, is modern Russia a continuation of Kievan Rus or the Golden Horde?
* The word "Slavs" in translation from Greek and Latin means "slaves". When Hitler invaded the USSR in 1941, he used these words for his propaganda: Slaven sind Sklaven, i.e. slavic slaves (this is how he tried to justify his
an inhuman war that claimed millions of human lives).
* Volodymyr Svyatoslavich (958-1015) Grand Duke of Kiev (978-1015)
* Dlugosz, Jan (1415-1480) Polsky historian
* For example, "History of the Russian State" by Nikolai Karamzin
* Alexander, Nevsky (1221-1263) Grand Duke of Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod
* Yaroslav Vsevolodovich (1191-1246) Prince of Kiev and Novgorod
* Mikhail, Vsevolodovich (1179-1246) Grand Duke of Kiev.
* Ivan Kalita (1284-1340) He is Ivan I. Grand Duke of Moscow (1325-1340)
* Shchelkan (? -1320) In mongolian Cholkhan. Khan's cousin Uzbek
* Simeon Bekbulatovich (? -1616) Sainbulad Khan. Tsar of Russia (1575-1576
* Oprichnik was the designation given to a member of the Oprichnina, a bodyguard corps established by TsarIvan the Terrible
[i] Boyd, Douglas The Kremlin Conspiracy (Ian Allan Publishing London 2014) pp-45
[ii] Serhii Plokhy. The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine and Bearus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2006) p - 138-140
[iii] Shuboldo, F.M. The lands of Southwestern Russia as part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Kiev 1987)
[iv] Delwade Jacobus. Identity and Geopolitics: Ukraine`s Grappling with Imperial Legacies (Harvard Ukrainian Studies-32-33. 2011-2014) p-179-207
[v] Davies, Norman Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgetten Europe (London: Allen Lane 2001) p-244, 252-253
[vi] Tolz, Vera Rethinking Russian-Ukrainin Relations: The New Trend in Nation Building in Post- Communist Russia? (Nations and Nationalism 8 no 2, 2002): 236
[vii] Egorov V.L.Alexander Nevsky and Chingizids (Domestic history. 1997. № 2) pp. 48-49
[viii] The legend about the murder in the Horde of Prince Mikhail of Chernigov and his boyar Theodore (Stories and Legends of Ancient Rus Dilya, 2001) pp. 243-247.
[x] Hidehiro, Okada Chinggis Khan and his destendants (2019)
[xi]Borisov, Nikolay. Ivan Kalita (Moscow, Molodaya Gvardiya 1996)
[xii] Miyawaki Junko Last Empire of nomads
[xiii] Weatherford, Jack. Genghis Khan and Making the Modern Word (Crown Publisher New York 2004)
[xiv] Fukuyama, Francis The Origins of Political Order. (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2011) [p-484-487
[xv] Miyawaki Junko History of Mongolia
[xvi] Fukuyama, Francis The Origins of Political Order. (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2011) [p-484-487