Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 12 стр.



Christianity Makes its Way in Russia
Vladimir now set to work with a vengeance to establish the faith that he had
espoused. His men hurled down the pagan idols in the city and caste them into the
Dnieper. At his order, the entire population of the city marched to the river to receive
baptism from the priests who had come from the Crimea. Couriers rode off to the
other cities of the realm to order similar measures. That very summer construction
began on the first of a number of stone cathedrals, and the prince assigned a tithe of
his revenue to their maintenance. The chief Kievan cities - Novgorod, Chernigov,
Polotsk, and Rostov - became episcopal centers. For many years the bishop of
Tmutorokan served a head of the Kievan church. Vladimir ignored the patriarch of
Constantinople, and there was no direct contact between the Russian church and
Constantinople until 1037. In that year the patriarch appointed the first metropolitan
bishop of Kiev who assumed the headship of the Russian church.
Christian churches rose up all over Russia at Vladimir's command, the prince
insisting that they should occupy the sites where pagan idols earlier had stood.
Monasteries appeared, not only in Kiev but in the recesses of the forest. The church
opened schools to which Vladimir ordered members of the upper classes to send their
children. The schools, as a matter of course, were church schools whose chief
purpose was to train recruits for the clergy. A regular system of charity for the
unfortunates of society was inaugurated under government auspices.
Russia's conversion was an act of public authority that took the form of mass
baptism. It is clear that strong official pressure was brought to bear upon the Russians
to make them embrace the new faith. The result was that the acceptance of
Christianity was in many instances formal rather than a matter of inner conviction,
and heathenism survived for centuries in the religious practice of the Russian people
side by side with Christian doctrine and observances. The slow and unsatisfactory
progress of Christianity may be explained in part by the character of the Russian
church organization and the complexion of the clergy.
How the System Worked
The significant feature in the organization of the Russian Church was its
dependence on Constantinople. The whole of Russia constituted one metropolitanate,
governed by a metropolitan who was both nominated and consecrated by the
patriarch of Constantinople. Many of the early clergy were Greeks and Balkan Slavs,
and it took a long time before native Russians replaced them. There was a marked
difference in the social and economic status of the higher and lower clergy. The
bishopric was lucrative and honorable.
Bishops received the proceeds of a special tax levied on the laity as well as
various fees and charges paid by the lower clergy, for consecration, permission to
perform marriages, etc. Judicial fees were another source of revenue. It also appears
that at an early date Church dignitaries and institutions acquired large landed estates.
Members of the higher hierarchy were well provided for, lived in ease and luxury,
and zealously defended Church properties and privileges against the secular power.