Sakharov and Halperin’s Conflicting Viewpoints

When reading Charles Halperin’s and A. M. Sakharov’s one can clearly see two very opposing viewpoints on what the Mongols brought to Russian society. Halperin’s point of view illustrates that despite the fact the Mongol’s did significant damage, their culture was an integral part of society and would influence Russia for many years to come. He states that the invasion did not impact the governmental system in place beforehand much: “The Mongols restructured the social and political order of the steppe, the mainstay of international commerce and nomadism, but they left the political infrastructure of Russia alone because of its lesser importance to their economy and polity.” Russian princes remained to rule under the close watch of the Mongols. In addition to this, the Orthodox Church was never interfered with. The Mongol’s leader Genghis Khan tolerated all religions in his empire.

Contrasting Halperin’s outlook, Sakharov believes that Mongol’s were detrimental to Rus’ in most ways and did not positively influence society. He points out that the Mongol-Tatars took craftsmen captive and destroyed Russian architecture. By exterminating or exiling craftsmen, many construction techniques disappeared and things like masonry construction ceased completely. He also boldly claims that the Mongols did not enrich Russian society in any way and only a few Eastern words are retained in the Russian language.

I personally think Sakharov’s viewpoint is much too extreme and that the Mongols influence the way Russia formed in many ways. I think they showed Princes how to properly rule, and created a more centralized Rus. They also were not persecuted for their religion and were allowed to practice their own customs. It’s interesting to see how efficient and smart the Mongols were with their rule. By not destroying people’s lives around their empire, they were able to control a huge area of the world for a long time.