Halperin’s and Sakharov’s articles offer different historical intepretations of the reception and effects of the Mongol invasion in Rus’. Halperin argues that, contrary to teachings perpetuated by the Church, the Rus adapted many aspects of Mongolian life which advanced Rus’ society. For instance, during the Mongol occupation, Rus’ society learned to use the Mongols’ efficient military structure and postal service. The Mongols also “rerouted the fur trade to extract greater revenue” (Halperin 106) for Rus’, thus assisting the culture they had conquered. Halperin makes the point, however, that the Mongols did not force every aspect of their culture onto the Rus’ people, such as their religion. Such an interpretation portrays the Mongol invasion as a kind and enriching period in Rus’ history. On the other hand, Sakharov, in a study of Rus’ culture after the Mongol occupation ended, argues that the Mongols had no positive effect on Rus’. He explains that the Mongols, in taking away Rus’ best craftsmen, created centuries of a Rus’ with inferior architecture. Sakharov then contends that, after the Mongols left, Rus’ culture became much more sophisticated and enlightened, thus underscoring the dark period that had been the Mongols’ reign.
Sakharov writes, “Reborn and developing Russian culture regained its national character in full. The Mongol-Tartars enriched it with nothing whatever, and their influence was quite insignificant in practice” (Sakharov 138). I find this claim to be a little too broad and definitive to be taken as fact. Even disregarding the period after the occupation, the Mongol invasion was clearly significant in its empowering of Moscow and ultimate depowering of Kiev. But moreover, the fact that Rus’ culture exploded in literature and architecture after the occupation also signfies that the Mongols affected Rus’. Perhaps, Rus’ culture wouldn’t have advanced as quickly as it did if the Mongols had not stunted it (if indeed they did stunt it) for so long.
I wonder how the effects Mongol occupation is viewed in other parts of the world. Does the Middle-East and China contend that the Mongols had a positive or negative impact on their cultures? Furthermore, do different geographic sections of Russia today claim different interpretations about the Mongol invasions?