Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Rise of Ancient Russia

The rise of Russia
The expansion of Orthodox Christianity from Constantinople also affected the emergence of new civilization to the north, where, beginning in the A.D. 200s, Slavic tribes settled in much of eastern Europe. Ofher peoples, like the Huns, Avars, and Magyars, often invaded the region and for a time made the Slavs their subjects. During the 800s, Vikings from Scandinavia also swept into eastern Europe. The Vikings came more as traders than conquerors, however, and several cities sprang up along the Viking trade routes.

Two such cities were Novgorod, south of Lake Ladoga, and Kiev, on the Dnieper River. In 862, a people called the Rus, under their war leader Rurik, took control of Novgorod and established a dynasty. Eventually the Rus, whose name is probably the origin of the name Russia, also took control of Kiev and several ofher principalities. By the 800s, they had come to mle over all the Slavic tribes along the Dnieper River. Kiev especially prospered because of its location along the rich trade route that extended north from Constantinople to the Baltic Sea. Kiev grew to become the most important principality in Kievan Russia.

Despite the Kievan prince’s predominant position, a centralized government never fully developed. Instead, the rulers of ofher principalities simply paid tribute to Kiev and largely ran their own affairs as they liked. At times, the princes of the cities of Kievan Russia ruled with the advice of councils of boyars, or nobles. Anofher important institution widely used in bofh Kiev and Novgorod was the town meeting, where the heads of all households gathered at the command of the prince to consider such matters as war, disputes among princes, and special measures to deal with emergencies.

As the Kievan state developed, it came increasingly under the influence of Constantinople to the south. In 988, the Kievan ruler Vladimir I converted to Orthodox Christianity, partly out of a desire to marry the Byzantine emperor’s sister, Anna. Thereafter, the Byzantine Church became increasingly important in Kievan Russia. The patriarch of Constantinople chose the chief bishop, or metropolitan, of the Kievan Church. New monasteries in the region soon became centers for social services, education, and artistic expression.

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