|Guess the Test #2 Name: _____________________
The Russian Primary Chronicle
Yaroslav the Wise
Cyril and Methodius
Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod
The Massacre on the Ice
Essay Questions: Write 5 good comments for each topic.
1. Tell me what you learned about the Slavs and the Rus.
2. Describe the Slavic pagan religion and how they learned about Christianity.
3. Say who Alexander Nevsky, his policy with the Mongols, and the battles he fought.
A book written in the 1100s AD called The Russian Primary Chronicle tells us about the early history of the first Russian people, which were called the Slavs. The Chronicle states that during the mid-800s the Slavs living along the Dneiper River were fighting among themselves so much, they wouldn’t trust or support any of their fellow Slavs to lead them. They sent a diplomat west to the Rus people of Scandinavia, asking for help in solving their disputes. One of the Rus, a leader named Rurik, brought order to the Slav trading center of Novgorod. In 882, Rurik’s successor, Oleg, took control of the town of Kiev and united the entire region. In order to expand his power, Oleg marched an army south and successfully attacked Constantinople in 907. He demanded trade agreements that benefitted the Slavs.
The Rus went on to defeat a people known as the Khazars and freed several Slavic tribes who had been under the Khazars’ control. The region became a state called Kievan Rus. One of its greatest kings was Yaroslav the Wise. He employed scribes (the only people of the time who knew how to write) to translate religious books from Greek into the Slavic language. Yaroslav codified Russian law and erected many new buildings to beautify Kiev. Yaroslav also expanded Kiev to include the Baltic Sea region. He maintained a good relationship with Western Europe, but when he tried to attack Constantinople, his forces were crushed.
CHRISTIANITY IN RUSSIA
In 863, two Greek monks named Cyril and Methodius went into Rus territory to convert the Rus to Christianity. The Rus were pagans who believed in a central god named Perun who ruled the world and other gods. According to the Russian Chronicle, the Rus also believed in a concept called the World Tree. It is either an oak tree, or some sort of pine tree. The mythological symbol of the World Tree was a very strong one, and survived throughout Slavic folklore for many centuries after Christianization. Three levels of the universe were located on the tree. The leaves and high branches represented the sky - the realm of gods, stars and planets, while the trunk was the realm of mortals. They were sometimes combined together in opposition to the roots of the tree, which represented the underworld - the realm of the dead.
Cyril and Methodius learned the Slavonic language to better teach the Rus about Christianity. They also created an alphabet to translate the Bible and other religious books from Greek into the Slavonic language. This alphabet was called the Cyrillic alphabet
and helped Orthodox Christianity spread through Serbia, Bulgaria,
and Russia. It is the alphabet used by Russians today.
In 988 the Grand Duke Vladimir I made Christianity the official religion of Kievan Russia. He built libraries, schools, and churches. Following the schism of 1054, the head of the Orthodox Church in Kiev set up a semi-independent church in Russia, which became the Russian Orthodox Church.
Centuries later, Russian Orthodox missionaries brought their religion to Alaskan lands. Like Cyril and Methodius, the Russian missionaries learned Alaskan native languages and created alphabets for them, so that they could translate the Bible from Russian into languages spoken by the people of Alaska.
Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod
In 1223, the Mongols, led by Genghis Khan, entered Rus lands, defeating them and their allies. Upon Genghis Khan’s death, the Mongol empire’s western edge came under the control of his grandson, Batu Khan. Kiev fell to the Mongols in 1240, and Batu established a Mongol state in southern Russia, ending the era of Kievan Rus dominance. Prince Alexander of Novgorod encouraged the Russians to obey their Mongol conquerors to avoid being slaughtered, as the Mongolians tended to do when people opposed them.
In the same year, a band of Swedes invaded Russian territory near Neva, hoping to take control of the lucrative trade route between Russia and the Byzantine Empire. The 19-year-old Prince Alexander launched a surprise attack against them, defeating them and saving Russia from a full-scale invasion. The prince became known as Alexander Nevsky (from the Battle of Neva) for his accomplishment.
Later, an army of German knights tried to force Russians to abandon the Eastern Orthodox Church and convert to Roman Catholicism. It was springtime and Prince Alexander’s army met the invaders on an ice-covered strait. The Russians lured the heavily armed German knights onto the thinning ice, which cracked and dumped them and their horses into the freezing water. The Massacre on the Ice, as the battle came to be called, remains one of the most famous in Russian history.
The Tatars, a Turkic-speaking Central Asian people, succeeded the Mongols, and ruled Russia until 1480. Within Russia, Moscovy (Moscow) became the new capital of a nation that gradually expanded to occupy much of Asia.