Mongol Influence on Rus’

The Mongol’s rule over Rus’ from around 1250 to 1480 seems to have brought many cultural consequences to the Rus’ land.  Russian architecture received a major blow as previous techniques were simplified and many incidents of structure malfunctions were reported.  The Mongols brutal sacking of cities such as Kiev destroyed much of the Rus’ culture.  Ancient pieces of valuable literature were destroyed by this destruction of the Mongols and were lost in time. Most ancient books were preserved in the un-harmed Novgorod. (137)  The practice of writing chronicles disappeared and the grand architecture of the 11th and 12th century was replaced with more simplified techniques.  In reference to Rus’ culture, it’s said that, “The Mongol-Tatars enriched it with nothing whatever… (Kaiser and Marker 138)”.  The Mongols blocked Rus’ from the Enlightenment occurring in the west and put it on track to develop separately from the west.

However, some historians see the Mongol Yoke as a positive effect to Rus’ culture.  The Khan left the Rus’ political infrastructure intact as well as giving the Orthodox church freedom from Mongol intervention.  This allowed the church to grow and finally convert most of the population into Orthodoxy.  It’s also seen that, “The Russians showed praiseworthy perspicacity in imitating the institutions in warfare and government… (105)”.  Princes were also given “booty” for participating in military campaigns with the Mongols. (106)  The vast Mongolian empire also benefitted Rus’ with their huge trade connections.  Rus’ furs became popular a commodity in this trade.

If the Mongols did not control Rus’ would the idea of a “Russian identity” become as prominent?



2 thoughts on “Mongol Influence on Rus’

  1. It is difficult to pinpoint some of the affects the Mongol occupancy had on the development of early Russia. The readings illuminated many possible aftereffects which were both positive and negative; I find this question especially thought provoking as it was necessary for Rus’ to unite to finally drive the Mongols out. If they were never pressured to do this it may have taken many more centuries for the varied tribes and regions to develop any form of national identity. In this way, the Mongols may have played a much larger role in the development of Russia than many current Russian historians would like to admit.

  2. I find it interesting that two of the greatest factors in the history of a “Russian identity” have been the Orthodox Church and the repression of that selfsame institution. With the Mongol support of the Church it became the most prominent institution in Rus and was a symbol around which the people could rally. During Soviet times, however, one of the greatest drives in terms of defining identity was the attempt to create an atheist state by banning worship. I find the dichotomy relationship between the two opposites very interesting.

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