From The History Of Russia

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The name of Rus was given to the land of the Eastern Slavs in the ninth century. According to early Russian chronicles, when Oleg the Prophetic sat on the throne of Kiev, he declared: This will be the mother of the cities of Rus. He fortified Kiev and made it into his capital.

Kiev was well placed on the principal waterway between the Gulf of Finland and the Bosphorus. Every year the merchants loaded up their boats with furs, wax, honey, amber and traveled downstream to Constantinople. Besides Kiev, other towns such as Novgorod, Rostov, Suzdal and Pskov grew up. In 998 Prince Vladimir of Kiev (978-1015) proclaimed Christianity as the official religion and the whole population of Kiev was baptized in the waters of the River Dnieper. An important consequence of this event was the adoption of a literary language, Church Slavonic. This language used a script based on Greek with extra letters for Russian sounds, devised by Byzantine missionaries Kyril and Mephody. This paved the way for the flowering of Kievan culture that came under Yaroslav the Wise (1019-1054). this was also the age of intensive church building that produced the great cathedrals of St Sophia (1037-1039) in Kiev and St Demetrius (1194) in Vladimir. In the monasteries, especially in the famous Pecherskaya Lavra, learned monks translated Greek and transcribed old Slavonic books.

After Yaroslavl s death in 1054 the tendency to disintegration became more evident. Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh briefly reunited the land early in the 12th century, but it split apart again.

In 1169 Kiev was sacked by a group of twelve Slav princes led by Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky, who established Vladimir as his new capital in the North-East and took the title of Grand Prince.

In 1237-1240 the Mongols headed by Batu Khan conquered Rus, and its towns and principalities lost their independence.

The first mention of Moscow appears in the chronicles for 1147, nearly a century before the Mongol-Tatar invasion in those times Moscow belonged to Yuri Dolgoruky, Prince of Vladimir. It was a small settlement on the banks of the Moskva River. At the prince s order a wooden fortress (a Kremlin) was erected on a high hill above the river. In the 13th century Moscow became the centre of a principality. Moscow expanded its territory until it reached supremacy over all the other Russian principalities, though still a Tatar vassal state. In 1320s the Orthodox church moved its administration from Vladimir to Moscow and that rose its prestige.

Prince Ivan I Kalita (1325-1341) was the first Moscow prince to be granted the right to collect the tribute money from the other Russian principalities.

His grandson, Prince Dmitry Donskoi, was the victor of the battle of Kulikovo over Mongols in 1380. Prince Ivan III who had earned himself the title Ivan the Great expanded Muscovy northwards. He subjugated Novgorod in 1487. In 1472 Ivan the Great strengthened his position on marrying Sophia Paleologus as ...

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