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Week II: 7 Sept.  From Ancient Rus to the Rise of Moscow

                              Assignment:  R&S, pp. 3-104


Ch. 1

According to the authors, what are the most important geographic features that have influenced Russia's history?  (e.g., terrain, latitude, climate, etc.)?  Explain.


Ch. 2

When and in what region did various ancient peoples settle on "Russian" territory?  How do we know this, and what is the authors' main point about life in ancient Russia in the time of the Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians?


Think about the text's discussion of the Scythian, Sarmatian, Goth, Hun, Avar, and Khazar invasions, Greek and Roman settlement, and the long-standing presence of the Eastern Slavs on the lands of ancient Russia.  What point are they suggesting about the ethnic and culture makeup of the peoples of this land?


Ch. 3

What is the "Norman Theory" on the formation of the Kievan Russian state, and how useful do the authors find this theory?  Explain.


How did the Primary Chronicle explain the origins of the Ninth Century Rus state, and how did that shape the Norman Theory?   What do the authors make of this evidence?


Were there "Vikings" in ancient Russia, and what do the authors consider to have been their role in Russia's history?


Ch. 4

What basic periods do the authors identify in their overview of Kievan Russia's political history?


In the first period (812-980), did Kiev's princes (and princesses) find it easy to establish their rule over the entire region and its peoples?  Explain.


What evidence is there that Kiev had become a significant force in Eastern Europe by the mid-900s?


What precipitated the Civil War between the sons of Prince Sviatoslav and what were the results?


In the second period (980-1054), what were the most important policies adopted by Grand Prince Vladimir and why were these important?  What do the authors see as the symbolic importance of the legend of Vladimir's adoption of Orthodox Christianity, and what was the political significance of this decision?


Who emerged victorious from the civil war that followed Vladimir's death in 1015, and what point do the authors seem to be making about the issue of princely succession in Kievan Russia?


What were the most important domestic policies of Iarovlavl' the Wise, who brought Kiev to the peak of its power and influence, did the Kievan Prince face any internal opposition or rebellions?  Explain.


What evidence demonstrates that Kiev was considered a major European state circa 1050?


What happened to the power of the Kievan state after Iaroslavl's death?  What main social, economic, political, and military factors do the authors cite to explain the fall of Kiev between 1169 and 1220?


Ch. 5

According to Byzantine sources, what was the basis of the Kievan economy and how was the economy linked to the domestic power of the Grand Prince and to Kiev's foreign policy?  Do other sources concur?


What is the evidence of the importance of agriculture to Kiev's economy and society, and what kinds of agricultural practices were being employed in Kievan Russia?


Do the authors think that the main basis of the Kievan economy was either trade or agriculture?  Explain.


Describe the social hierarchy in Kievan Russia.  Who, for instance, were the muzhi (boyars), the liudi, and the smerdy?   And what do the authors tell us about slaves and clerics in this period?


Why don't the authors consider Kievan Russia to have been a feudal society?


What were the main governmental institutions in Kievan Russia?  What, for instance, was the duma?  The veche?  What powers did princes exercise?


Do the authors seem to consider Kievan Russia a strongly centralized state ruled by an autocratic prince?  Explain.


Ch. 6

To what does the term dvorverie refer?  Explain.


Were the practices and culture of Kievan Christianity copied exactly from the Byzantine Church, or did they incorporate and develop distinctly "Russia" characteristics?  Give and explain examples.


How did Christianity influence the development of language and literature in Kievan Russia?


What is that authors' main point about the symbolism in Kievan byliny (epic poetry)?


Could people in Kievan Russia read and write?  Explain.


In sum, what main point are the authors making about the origins of Kievan culture and how is that related to their more general arguments about Kievan society?


Ch. 7

According to the authors, what would Russia "inherit" from Kiev?  What is their main point about the concept of "the Russian Land"?


What does the term "appanage" mean, and why is the post-Kievan era often called "Appanage Russia"?


Ch. 8

When and why did the Mongols become a dominant power in Asia and Europe?


When, how, and why did the Mongols conquer Russia?


How did the Golden Horde administer and exercise its rule over Russia?


Explain the basic positions the authors outline in the debate over the influence of the Mongols on Russia.  What was the "traditional" view, what is the "Eurasianist" view, and what position to the authors take on this question?



Ch. 9

Why had Novgorod been important in the Kievan period, and had the city been under the direct rule of the Kievan Grand Prince?  Explain.


Why is Alexander Nevskii considered the most famous of Novgorod princes?  In the period of Nevskii's princedom, what role did Novgorod play in stopping the Germanic conquest of Russia?  What policy did he adopt towards the Mongols?



What main point are the authors making about Novgorod's system of governance?  What was the role of the Prince, the Council of Notable, the Posadnik, the Tysiatskii, and the Veche?  (Also, did the city's Archbishop have any political power?)



What is the authors' main point about the Novgorod justice system?


What was the basis of Novgorod's economy, and how was that reflected in the city's social structure?


Is there evidence of widespread literacy in appanage-era Novgorod, and how did this (and other aspects of the city's culture) reflect its economic life?


How do the authors explain Novgorod's subjugation to Moscow?


Ok, so what is the main point of this chapter?  Why are the histories of Novgorod and Pskov important?



Ch. 10

What main points are the authors making about the "variations on the Kievan theme" in the history of Volynia and Galicia (the Southwest)?   (For instance,  what sort of relations did the region have with Western kingdoms?  What social group exercised the most power in this region?  How did that compare to the situation in Poland and Hungary?)



What main points are the authors making about the history of the Northeast (Rostov and Vladimir-Suzdal)?  (For instance, what advantages did the region have during the Mongol period?  What undermined the region's unity?  Who was the dominant force in the region's government?)



OK--so what do chapters 9 and 10 remind us about the authors' arguments concerning the nature of Kievan Russia?



Ch. 11

What role did the Golden Horde play in Moscow's ascendance over Tver and its ability to become the seat of the Grand Prince by the reign of Ivan Kalita in the 1320s-1340s?


Besides becoming the seat of the Grand Prince, what other development in the reign of Ivan Kalita increased Moscow's power and prestige?


What developments during the reign of Dmitri Donskoi further strengthened Moscow's power and influence?


Explain Moscow's relationship with Lithuania and with the Mongols under Basil II (1389-1425).  What pattern in the expansion of the Muscovite Princedom are the authors describing?


How did the status of the Orthodox Church hierarchy in Moscow change during the reign of Basil II, and what do the authors think this meant for developments in Russia's view of the West?


Why was Ivan III known as "Ivan the Great"?  How did Moscow's relationship with other Russian principalities change during his reign, and what did that mean for the independent political traditions of places like Novgorod?


What title did Ivan III claim in 1493, and why is that important?  In what ways was Ivan III influenced by Byzantine political practices and symbolism?


Why might we consider Ivan III's reign the end of the "Mongol Yoke"?


Was Russia under Ivan III or Basil III isolated from the West?  Explain.


What main reasons do the authors cite to explain Moscow's success in establishing a "unified" and "centralized" state?