Development of the Post-Kievan State and the Mongal Conquest

Novgorod and Muscovy became one united state under the command of a Grand Prince, Ivan III. The chronicles assigned for this evening depict the development of Ivan’s control over a span of territory that would eventually become a state in and of itself instead of a loosely united set of principalities with no strong connection to a secular leader. Ivan executed his control with a complete political force, ranging from military intimidation to religious conviction. The Grand Prince also employed a tactic favored by Assyrian generals in the days of humanity’s first civilizations in the fertile crescent; a technique known as ‘calculated frightfulness’. Much like Assyrians did to conquered people, Ivan proposed (and eventually succeeded in) moving people from his own ethnicity into conquered territories (Muscovites into Novgorod) and taking potentially threatening members of the Novgorod community and sending them into military service in the Nizovskaia land, far and away from their homeland and any potential of uprising in the land recently acquired by the Grand Prince.

The chronicle jumps out of order. Following the addressing of Post-Kievan Rus, the chronicle in RS tackles the history of the Mongol invasion that lasted from 1235 to 1238. This period in Russian history completely redefined the way in which the Rus people identified themselves, as well as the society as a whole functioned. The chronicles describe the Mongols as an all destroying devil-race, “from whose beginning wished no good to the human race.” The chronicles go on to describe the ways in which the Mongols shed Christian blood, as well as a plethora of other atrocities, including the dethroning and subsequent murder of multiple Rus princes, effectively ending the governmental structure of the land which now lay in Mongol control.

3 thoughts on “Development of the Post-Kievan State and the Mongal Conquest

  1. I don’t think the Chronicle was written out of order, so much as that the excerpts were from two different chronicles: “The Annexation of Novgorod According to the Moscow Nikonian Chronicle” and “The Novgorod Chronicle on the Mongol Invasion.”

    I think the words which the author of the Novgorod Chronicle chooses to associate with the Mongols and the Mongol Invasion are very telling of how the Church (who was most likely writing the Chronicle) felt about Rus prior to the Mongol Yoke. Words such as ‘locusts,’ ‘devil-race,’ and ‘pagan foreigners’ come to mind. It’s obvious that the author intended for the audience to see the Mongols as evil people, yet the excerpt also appears to serve as a lesson to the people of Rus. When princes quarrel and lose their way (and the people lose their way), there are prices to pay. The concluding sentence, “God let the pagans on us for our sins” (101) solidifies this notion.

  2. Something that I found to be interesting was how the Church views the Mongol invasion. Although they do portray the Mongols as Godless and evil beings, they also describe them as being a sign from that God. The church viewed the Mongol invasion as punishment for rebellions and chaos amongst the citizens of Rus which went against the wishes of the church. Because of this, although they discuss the invasion as being sent by God, they do not also blame Him for it. Instead, they focus the blame of the sinners of the world.

  3. I agree with the idea that the main goal for the authors of the Chronicle was to make a lesson out of a situation that they did not have much control over. The conflicts between princes left Rus decentralized and incapable of defeating a force such as the Mongols. Like the different plagues described in the Bible, the Mongol invasion was meant to serve as a another warning of what happens when people do not follow the Church’s rules. The survival of the Orthodox Church was also probably used to further this point that sinners must be eliminated, but the devout can persevere.

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