The Effects of the Mongol Empire on Russia

The Effects of the Mongol Empire on Russia    

Hosseini, Dustin (The University of Texas at Arlington)

The School of Russian and Asian Studies Newsletter, May 4 (2005)


The history of Russia has always been a relatively sad and tumultuous one wrought with wars, power struggles, and constant change, which often was forced upon the Russian people rather than through gradual, measured methods. Few periods of relative peace have existed for this state since its first beginnings. From an earlier time, in which we know Russia as ‘Kievan Russia’, the princes of the various cities such as Vladimir, Pskov, Suzdal, and Kiev, constantly battled and bickered for power and control of the small semi-united state. Under the reigns of St. Vladimir (980-1015) and Yaroslav the Wise (1015-1054), the Kievan state was at its highest point and attained relative peace in contrast with years past. However, as history went, once the reigning rulers died a power struggle ensued and the wars once again flared. Perhaps it was the decision of Yaroslav the Wise before his death in 1054 to assign princedoms to his sons that set in stone the future of Kievan Russia for the next two hundred years. Largely during this period, civil wars between the various princes ravaged much of the Kievan confederation, draining it of essential resources that it would later need.

Only a few periods of relative stability within the land of the Rus existed during this time. As the princes incessantly fought with each other over control of Kiev and the confederation of cities, the Kievan state slowly decayed, declined, and eventually lost its former glory. Steppe tribes such as the Polovtsy (also known as the Cumans/Kumans and Kipchaks) and previously the Pechenegs had waged war against Kievan Russia for quite some time. Eventually, the Kievan state was ripe for a takeover by more powerful invaders from distant lands.

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