The Russian Orthodox Church and The Mongols in the Thirteenth Century

The Mongol invasion of Rus’ started in the mid thirteenth century and lasted until around 1480. It followed closely behind the fighting between the Rus’ princes over land and power. During this period the two most powerful groups in Rus’ were the Princes and the church. The church quickly blamed the princes for the invasion of the Mongols stating that it was Gods punishment for their foolish skirmishing. According to The Novgorod Chronicle (Kaiser and Marker 99) the church was innocent from all wrongdoing and the Mongol invasion was directed primarily toward the princes as God’s reprimand for their behavior. Throughout the invasion the church became a sanctuary for the people of Rus’. Princes and their closest companions fled to the church, “the pagans breaking down the doors, piled up wood and set fire to the sacred church; and slew all, thus they perished, giving up their souls to God.” (101). The common people of Rus’ also began to take shelter in churches in the face of Mongol invasions and thus the churches gained even more power.

The Mongol Immunity Charter to Metropolitan Peter (101) created a power balance between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Mongols. It basically gave protection to the church from the Mongols letting them trade and function in the Mongol controlled land. It seems that the real purpose was to control the power of the church and keep control of the Rus’ people as much as possible. The Russian Orthodox Church accepted the protection of the Mongols because it helped their power grow. It is a primary factor of their importance and power today.


Why did the people of Rus’ embrace Christianity in the wake of the Mongol invasion? What made the people of Rus’ turn toward Christianity and away from their old Pagan religion? How did the Mongols own beliefs affect this decision?


How could history have been different if the Mongols did not grant the immunity charter to the church? Would Russian Orthodoxy be as prevalent? Would the Mongols have stayed in power in Rus’ for more or less time?


Works cited:

Kaiser, Daniel H. and Gary Marker. Reinterpreting Russian History: Readings, 860-1860s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Building a State in Post-Kievan Society

As Kiev was declining in power, Novgorod was growing and becoming more powerful, evolving into a “’merchant republic’” ((Kaiser and Marker, 84)) (Kaiser and Marker, 84). In Novgorod, princely power existed, but was limited, as seen in The First Treaty of Novgorod with Tver’ Grand Prince Iaroslave Iaroslavich.   This specific treaty lists a number of rules the prince is to follow when in power; it is interesting to note that the majority of the rules deal with land and property rights displaying the importance of land at this time. In Southwest Rus’, the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle provides insight to a different form of princely power; instead of princes in Southwest Rus’ the boyars fought for power.  Unlike The First Treaty of Novgorod however, the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle does not discuss the importance of land and property but rather the important role power plays in the creation of the state. In Northeast Rus’, The second Testament of Moscow Grand Prince Dmitrii Donskoi displays the importance of property but also provides insight to what kind of roles women had at this time. For example, Donskoi provides an ample amount of land and villages for his princess but he constantly repeats the importance of the princess in his son’s lives; she is to have the last say and the sons are to listen to her.


What can the role of property in these documents tell us about the importance of property or land at this time?


What can the role of Donskoi’s wife tell us about gender roles at the time? Can we claim that all women had an important role in society or only women in the princely, upper class?

Keynes and the Treaty of Versailles

In reading the “Treaty of Versailles,” it becomes clear that the idea behind the treaty was to limit the powers and territories of Germany and have them surrender during the Great War; making them go from a very powerful country to a very weak country in the blink of an eye.  In his piece titled “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,”, English economist John Maynard Keynes spoke to the negative effects that the Versailles settlement would have on the nation of Germany.  Keynes’ highlighted that Germany would lose “her colonies, her merchant fleet and her foreign investments,” (Keynes) after signing this treaty.  Furthermore, due to these losses, Keynes argued that the industry of Germany will “be condemned inevitably to destruction,” (Keynes) and made it clear that German citizens will suffer many deaths due to the poor quality of life that will occur once the treaty is signed.  And while Keynes believed that the next logical step for German citizens would be to move to other places, for no work would be available in Germany, “many countries and the most important ones will oppose any German immigration,” (Keynes) forbidding them to move out of Germany, for once the treaty is signed they would want nothing to do with them.

Keynes believed that if Germany were to sign the Treaty of Versailles, they would be making a rash decision and could “throw back human progress for centuries.” (Keynes)  Rather than jump at this idea of a treaty, Keynes believed that Germany should wait it out and see if something more favorable might pop up.  And while Keynes’ piece was passionate and provided key points as to why the German community should not sign the treaty, Germany ended up signing anyway, ending the misery that the Great War provided them.  In signing this treaty, the German population displayed the exhaustion that the Great War had caused them and proved that they were willing to give up many of their powers in order to end their involvement in the war.  Ultimately, I think the biggest takeaway from Keynes’ piece is that Germany was willing to give up all their powers and territory in order to get out of World War I.  This is important because it showed that Germany was weak and exhausted.  By displaying their weakness in signing this treaty, a man named Adolf Hitler was able to take notice and developed a plan that involved him taking over Germany; a plan that became successful and with his leadership, Germany became a rather violent nation and caused another World War to begin.

Thoughts on the Declaration of Independence and the Third Estate

The document originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson and signed by fifty-six men on July 4th, 1776 that was coined the “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America” (Blaisdell 63) and later became known as the Declaration of Independence, remains to this day the most famous and important document in American history. Throughout this document, the framers specifically highlight and outline wrongdoings committed by the King of England and ultimately their desire to form a new sovereign nation separate from England. With the abuses committed by the English monarchy, it became their right “to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security” (Blaisdell 64). The Declaration of Independence creates the United States of America, a free and independent nation that has the “full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do” (Blaisdell 66).

Similar to the power that was desired in accordance to the Declaration of Independence, in Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes’ What is the Third Estate? he believes that the Third Estate of France was entitled to more power and respect than they have been given. According to Sieyes, out of all public and private services, “it needs no detailed analysis to show that the Third Estate everywhere constitutes nineteen-twentieths of them” (Blaisdell 72). Clearly, the message that Sieyes wants to relay is that a monarchy is not necessary for the people of France to function. They would be fine and most likely better off if they were to overthrow or rebel against the Crown. The French Revolution ensued and lead to The Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This was created with very similar rights in mind as the Declaration of Independence.

Independence and the Third Estate

After years of British tyranny over the colonies, a call for revolution was drafted to grant freedom and equality to all. A government was established that gave power to the people. As a result of restrictive British control, the writers of the declaration declared, “that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the people to alter or to abolish it” (Blaisdell 64). Jefferson and his counterparts believed that all men were equal and attacked British tyranny over the colonies, listing a number of facts of their tyranny to be read by the rest of the world. As representative of the United States, they conclude “these United Colonies… are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown… and that all political connection between them… is ought to be totally dissolved… as Free and Independent States… they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce” (Blaisdell 66). Breaking away from British control would allow an entire new nation to take form built on its own beliefs and policies, different from those seen previously in Europe (absolute monarchs).


According to Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes, in order for a nation to survive “it needs private and public services” (Blaisdell 71). These activities are needed to support a society, without them a nation would crumble. In his work, What is the Third Estate?, Sieyes claims that the Third Estate is the group that performs “nineteen-twentieths” (Blaisdell 72) of these activities. Without this group, society would not exist. The very importance of the Third Estate constitutes its power it should have within a given society. They should have more rights than others, including nobility, because they are the glue that keeps society together.

Power Struggles Present in the Declaration of Independence and The Third Estate

The Declaration of Independence clearly establishes the kind power the United States is looking for through a representation of Britain’s tight control. The Declaration of Independence exemplifies how the king caused “repeated injuries and usurpations” (Blaisdell 64) as well as acted in every way “which may define a tyrant” (Blaisdell 66). The United States is looking for a government that allows power to be given to the people. The authors of this document believe that men are born with certain rights, and in order to protect those rights, the people should have a say in the government. The Declaration of Independence goes on to state that is the “Right of the People” to alter the government if the government were not working or becomes “destructive” in any way (Blaisdell 64). The main intent behind this document is to stray away from the “absolute tyranny,” and create an inclusive government where the people’s voices are heard (Blaisdell 64).

Sieyès argues over power among classes in his What is the Third Estate? He argues that the privileged have set limits to the third estate, stating, “you can go so far and no further” (Blaisdell 72). However, Sieyès points out that it is the third estate that occupies certain jobs that keep society running as it should, therefore, the third state is everything and should have more rights. Sieyès goes on to claim that the privileged do not help society because of its “idleness,” but are granted certain rights because of their place in society (Blaisdell 73). Sieyès continues, stating that nobility has special rights making them “a people apart in the great nation” which forms the separation of powers between the third estate and the nobility (Blaisdell 73). Sieyès believed the nation would be better off without the nobility because the third state held society together.

Power Shifts in Post- Kievan Rus’

In post- Kievan Rus’, the power dynamics shifted significantly because of the changing sources of the power. There were two specific ways that the power in the area shifted: through dispersing power from the prince to other officials in the area, and to give the elite citizens more power. The first type describes a system where officials had to be elected to power, but once in office had authority to limit the prince’s power and to govern the area (mainly found in the northwestern region). The second type mainly took place in the southwest and consisted of the princes power being reduced once again, but this time the authority went to the elite who only placed people in power who would aid their personal goals. Of course, many places saw no change, but in general this era marks a shift from entirely princely rule to a, somewhat, more open system.

The Role of Power and Youth in Triumph of the Will

Leni Riefensthal film, Triumph of the Will, depicts the rise of the Nazi party in 1934. The film portrays different excepts of speeches by various Nazi leaders to promote the goals and objectives of Nazism. The film was intended as propaganda to the German public.

Hitler, along with other Nazi leaders, have power over all the other party members. They use words of threat, but also powerful words and goals to make both the adults and youths be a part of the Nazi party and join the “working force”. There was a huge amount of supporters at each speech Hitler made. The youths in particular were a very interesting group that Hitler addressed. Hitler knew that the youths were the future of Germany. He knew exactly what to say and educate them to train them to be the best Nazi’s. Hitler stressed that he did not want class divisions, instead wanted them to come together as one. The youths had to be selfless, loyal to Germany, and strong in order to survive. Hitler told the youths exactly how to act, so that his dream would live on.

After the film came out was there greater support for the Nazi party? Did Hitler’s power on the youths work so that they came together as one?

The Role of the Youth in Triumph of the Will

The 1935 documentary, Triumph of the Will, by Leni Riefenstahl, portrays powerful propaganda images of the Nazi regime. It focuses in on speeches made by both high-ranking Nazi officers and Hitler himself. In between every scene change are minutes of marching and rejoicing in the German nation. The film encompasses many facets of Nazi ideology.

In one scene in particular, we see the mobilization of the children in the Nazi youth. There is a seemingly endless sea of kids, both boys and girls, in uniform listening to the Fuhrer speak. What Hitler was preaching was national unity, and the youth were the “vessels” for this: “We want to be a united nation, and you, my youth, are to become this nation. In the future, we do not wish to see classes and cliques, and you must not allow them to develop among you. One day, we want to see one nation” (Hitler). Hitler, in essence, was influencing the youth to make Germany the nation he wanted it to be, and to make sure the most important thing to them was the nation itself.

With this, were these youth told by their parents to attend these rallies, or were they drawn to them because of the the “power” Hitler was instilling in them?

Nuclear Waste and Sustainability in the Russian Nuclear Industry


Of the scholarly websites and books that I am using for this project I have found a number of similarities. Many of these sources are a form of anthology, where books have chapters the web sites have pages. But, a very distinct feature of the web site is its growth and development. Where a book would have to be republished, or have additional volumes, a web site allows for scholars to access and revise a number of times with relative ease. Additionally, on some internet outlets, the sites allow for commenting on articles or provide links to response pieces. This illustrates an evolving dialogue in the field that a book is, by nature, unable to provide.


In looking for the number of multimedia sources that this project has prescribed I have developed a number of skills that have already begun to help me in other areas of my research. I have found that much of a topic’s philosophy and history is easiest found in reliable scholarly texts, but having websites or scholarly blogs provide more contemporary and evolving views.

As for my review of Evernote, I must say that it has been difficult to preserve the bibliographies’ citation format while using the program. I have found it useful for storing snippets of information for personal use, as I can access it across platforms. I did not find myself using Evernote to discover other information gathered by users that might pertain to my research, but I can see such a service being useful. Ultimately, the service falls short of our primary need for it — class sourcing — when our primarily shared document, the bibliography,  is so negatively affected.

I have begun plotting a timeline. By going through each source and plotting relevant data on a time scale, I can identify patterns of change. Already I have found correlations between the evolution of reactor designs and the “Green Movement” starting in the 1980, which was unexpected. Many of my preconceptions of Soviet nuclear policy have been changed by the research I’ve done and I feel far more open to interpreting the information than using it to support what I believed to be true.


Here’s a link to my bibliography: