Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 19 стр.



the Golden Horde, on the other. As the fortunes of Sarai declined and those of
Moscow increased many Mongol notable switched their allegiance to Muscovy.
Many of these people became important Russian landowners. Many Mongols also
entered the Russian administrative and military services. At the end of the 17th
century about 17% of the Russian upper class were of Eastern, chiefly Mongol,
There were also important cultural effects. Mongol domination retarded
Russia's cultural development. It delayed for at least two centuries any contact
between Russia and Europe, which was at that time the only fountain of progress and
enlightenment. The Russian Middle Ages were barren of achievement in any field of
creative endeavor, except perhaps that of icon painting, which reached high standards
in the fifteenth century.
In the economic field the most spectacular development was that of the
invasion. It took time before the Russian economy recovered from the devastation
wrought, although the extremely low technical and economic levels prevalent during
this period facilitated the task. Foreign trade, which came to a standstill with the
conquest, revived substantially thereafter. There was little progress in agriculture and
industry, but there is no evidence that these pursuits sank below their modest pre-
Mongol level. As with cultural endeavor it was a case of stagnation and arrested
development rather than of deterioration and decline. The Russian economy,
however, was severely affected by two manifestations of the Mongol rule: exaction of
tribute, often exorbitant ones, and warlike action that took the form either of
invasions of Russia or of foreign wars in which the Russians were forced to
participate side by side with their masters.
The blending of the Byzantine tradition embodied in the church and Mongol
ideas and administrative usages paved the way for the establishment of the semi-
oriental absolutism of the Muscovite tsars. The window on Europe, which might have
admitted the refreshing breeze of western influences, was still tightly shut, while the
deadening storms from the Asiatic steppes swept freely through the length and
breadth of the land. Moscow autocracy of the 16th century was no different form that
of the Tartar Khans. The landed aristocracy became servile to the Moscow grand
dukes and tsars. The veche lost the right to choose and expel princes - a function
which had been taken over by the khans. The common people began to drift quite
noticeably into the dark night of serfdom.
Vocabulary work
Read and memorize the following words and expressions, suggest their
Russian equivalents:
heritage, n
foresee, v (foresaw, foreseen)
the unforeseen
to be on the move
pasture, n
decree, n
clergy, n
exempt, adj (to be exempt from taxes)
hamper, v (=hinder; e.g. to hamper the
progress of business)