Questions about the Ivan IV readings:
What was the significance of the oprichniki’s “brushes or brooms tied on the ends of sticks”? When does this look like?
Why did Ivan kill everyone and plunder instead of taking over the lands to become more of a monarch of sorts?
On page 153 (second paragraph), it states Ivan accepts all the petitions that were being maintained for the oprichniki. What was his motivation to do this? Did he suspect foul play was involved?
I think that this reading really helps to give a sense of how ingrained the Russian Orthodox Church was in early Rus society. The most obvious example of this is clearly the Chronicles themselves and how they are written. For instance, when Novgorod did not want to submit to the rule of the Grand Prince, the Chronicles portrayed it as not a political schism, but one of deep religious controversy. Instead of saying that the people of Novgorod had betrayed the Grand Prince, the Chronicles claim that Novgorod betrayed the commandments of God himself. As such, the battles between the Novgorodians and the armies of the Grand Prince are horribly skewed in favor of the Muscovites, making ridiculous claims that an army of 4000 Muscovites was able to defeat the Novgorod army, which mustered nearly 40,000 men.
Another indicator of the power the church had during this time period are the records that we have from after the Mongol invasion. In the analysis given by Kaiser and Marker, they talk about how the Mongols were viewed as pagans sent by God to punish the people of Rus for the infighting going on at the time. In spite of these views and the Chronicles consistent criticizing of the Mongols as being “godless pagans” the Orthodox Church was allowed to survive under Mongol rule and was given vast amounts of power. As long as the khan’s tax was paid, the Orthodox Church was allowed to continue its existence and it was able to develop a level of influence among the people that would never truly vanish. I believe that this was the point in Russian history were the Orthodox Church began to latch onto the power it now holds. Very few places in the world show so much dedication to their religion as Russia does; despite decades of oppression by the Soviets, the Orthodox Church immediately resurfaced after the fall of the Soviet Union and is still heavily influential in the government. I believe that without the Mongol invasion this may not have happened.