Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 13 стр.



The lower clergy enjoyed none of these advantages, depending on donations and fees
charged for marriages, baptism and funerals.
With some exceptions, the intellectual standards of the clergy were low. Few of
the village priests were fully literate, while a large proportion could neither read or
write and merely committed to memory the more important prayers and services.
This complexion of the clergy may well explain the high place held in Russian piety
by external observance, and the relative indifference to dogma and the inner meaning
of the Christian faith. This aspect of Russian Christianity had important consequences
in the subsequent history of the Russian church.
Monasteries played an important part in the development of the Russian
church. Some, like the Kievan Monastery of the Caves, were founded by men of
ascetic disposition who dedicated themselves to mediation and prayer and strictly
observed the rules of the monastic orders. Others were established by princes and
wealthy boyars and had as their primary objective to minister to the spiritual needs of
their benefactors and, after their death, to pray for the peace of their souls. In
conclusion then it is fair to say that the reign of Vladimir is pre-eminently important
in the history of Kievan Russia.
By his decision to embrace Christianity, although it could not for long have
been forestalled and the choice of a religion was never really seriously in doubt, he
brought a new civilization to Russia. A new code of morals, a sense of social justice,
a corps of clerics capable of keeping court records and of committing to writing the
historical experience of the nation, a sense of the need for education, a school of art
and architecture, an alphabet and a language, and a changed international position -
all these came to Russia with the new faith. But Vladimir accepted the new religion
without sacrificing his independence.
The Russian church from its very founding was an intensely national church.
Religiously Russia was not lost in the anonymity that characterized western Europe
in medieval times. Indeed, there would be many times in later centuries when the
most nationally conscious agency in the nation was the Russian church that Vladimir
head founded and whose chauvinistic direction he had done so much to inspire.
In terms of long-range effects the conversion under Vladimir was also highly
significant: It brought Russia into the circle of European Christendom and made her a
part of Western civilization and European culture. It isolated Russia from Western
Europe because of the split in the Christian Church which occurred in 1054. It made
Russia dependent on Byzantine trade and commerce. It made Russian culture
essentially Byzantine in nature. Byzantine culture surpassed all culture in Europe at
that time. It came to Russia ready-made. It made the church an instrument of political
unification. It laid the groundwork for the "imperial idea" in Russian history. Russia
inherited the mantle of Byzantine imperialism.