Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 17 стр.



confirmed in office by their new suzerain and that all major issues were referred to
the Golden Horde. The Mongols, however, seldom used their absolute powers in an
arbitrary fashion. As a rule they showed respect for Russian traditional institutions
and confirmed in office the princes who appeared to be entitled to it by precedent and
custom. When more than one prince appeared to claim the position the khan usually
selected the prince who promised to raise the most tribute. Thus the Russian people
usually received a higher tax rate along with a new prince.
The dynastic position of some of the ruling families, as for instance the princes
of Moscow, was strengthened by increasing the financial burdens of the people whom
they governed. In many instances the princes came to be looked upon, not as
spokesmen of local interests before the Mongol power, but as agents of the khan
enforcing his edicts at the expense of the local people. Another significant change
brought by the Mongols was the undermining of the constitutional position of the
veche. After the conquest the veche was deprived of its traditional powers of making
agreements with the princes and of expelling or inviting them. This loss of authority,
combined with the devastation suffered by the commercial cities and the decline of
trade during the opening decades of the Mongol rule, was responsible for the eclipse
of the veche. With the exception of Novgorod and Pskov the veche ceased to meet in
the middle of the fourteenth century.
The church fared poorly during the invasion. Monasteries and houses of
worship were pillaged and burned, bishops and priests were butchered. After the
conquest, however, the policies of the Golden Horde towards the church were more
tolerant, humane and politically expedient. The status of the church was determined
by decrees of the khan. Higher clergy like the princes were confirmed in office by the
khan and the church agreed to pray publicly for the Mongol ruler and his family.
In return the church and the clergy were exempt from taxes and military service.
Anti-church propaganda was punishable by death and the church and its property was
protected by the khan's agents. This cooperation proved to be mutually beneficial. It
made if easier for the Mongols to rule Russia and it allowed the church to grow and
increase its land holdings. In the long run it created difficulties between church and
state by strengthening the material power and independence of the church.
Although trade was at first hampered by the invasions and disorders, it soon
recovered and was actively promoted by the Mongols. Most of the trade was
controlled by the Mongols but many native traders had a share of the profits. Trade
with Western Europe was carried on chiefly through Novgorod, which was an outpost
of the Hanseatic League.
From the Field of Kulikovo to the Ugra River
The internal strife that developed in the Mongol empire towards the end of the
thirteenth century and continued intermittently until its final disintegration offered the
Russian princes opportunities to reassert their independence. In the 1360's a rebellion
in southern China led to the severance of that territory and the breakdown of the
Mongol empire. These difficulties let young prince, Dimitry of Moscow, to stop
payment of the tribute. The khan then tried to force payment with a punitive invasion.