Russia, the Kievan Rus, and the Mongols: Crash Course World History #20

Russia, the Kievan Rus, and the Mongols: Crash Course World History #20

Hi, I’m John Green, this is Crash Course
World History, and today we’re gonna talk about Russia, which means we get to talk about
this guy again! We haven’t talked about Russia much so far because one, it’s complicated,
and two, ya actually gavaryu pa ruski a little bit, because I had some Russian in college, and that makes
it difficult to mispronounce things, which is my thing! Mr. Green, Mr. Green! Why’d you take Russian? Well, because I had this big crush on a Russian major.
But, anyway, I’m sure I’ll still mispronounce everything. [theme music] So, today we’re going to talk about persistent
stereotypes about Russia, and how Russia came to take its current shape, a turn of events
we owe largely to the Mongols. But before we discuss the Mongol conquest
of Russia, let’s discuss exactly what got conquered. So before there was a Russian empire,
or even a Russian kingdom, there was the Kievan Rus. We know Kiev was a powerful city-state,
but who exactly founded it is a subject of debate. Most historians now believe that the
settlers of Kiev were Slavic people who migrated from around the Black Sea. But there’s an
older theory that the settlers of Kiev were actually, like, Vikings. That theory goes
that Vikings came down to Kiev from rivers like the Dnieper and founded a trading outpost
similar to ones they’d founded in Iceland and Greenland. Which is an awesome idea and
everything, but Russian, the language that developed from what the Rus spoke, sounds
a lot more Slavic than it sounds, you know, Swedish. To illustrate, here is a Swede fighting
with a Russian over who founded Kiev. Right, okay, so trade was hugely important
to Kiev. Almost all of their wars ended with trade concession treaties, and their law codes
were unusually devoted to the subject of commerce. The Rus traded raw materials like fur, wax,
and also slaves — We’re not gonna venture into the astonishingly intense etymological
debate over whether the word ”Slav” derives from the Latin word for slave because there’s
nothing more terrifying and verbose than an etymologist flame war. But, yeah, the Rus
traded slaves. They also relied on agriculture — and your relationships to the land determined
both your social status and your tax burden. And if you fell into tax debt, which a lot
of peasants did, then you became bonded to the land you farmed for the rest of your life.
I guess that slave-like dynamic is okay as a model for social organization, but if you
step on the proletariat for too long, you might end up with a Communist revolution. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Couple
more things about Kiev: First, the ruler of Kiev was called the Grand Prince, and he became
the model for future Russian Kings. Also, the early grand princes made a fateful decision:
They became Byzantine Christians. According to legend, prince Vladimir chose to convert
the Rus to Byzantine Christianity in the 11th century. He purportedly chose Christianity
over Islam because of Islam’s prohibition on alcohol saying: “Drink is the joy of
the Russian.” Anyway, the Kievan Rus eventually fell in
1240 when these guys showed up and replaced them. By that time the Rus had been at war
with pastoral nomads for centuries; from the Khazars to the Pechenegs to the Cumans, and
they were tired. Which made them easy targets. The period of Mongol “rule” over Russia
is also known as Appanage Russia. An Appanage is princedom, and this period basically featured
a bunch of Russian princes vying for control over territory, which is not a recipe for
political stability or economic growth, another theme that will re-emerge in Russian history. By the way, I’m describing all of this as
Russia even though if you did that in the 13th century, people would look at you funny.
They’d be like, “What do you mean, Russia? Also, where’d you get those pants? And all
those teeth?” “MMMM…YOU SMELL PRETTY.” Right. So, to discuss how important the Mongols
were to Russia, let’s go to the Thought Bubble. The Mongols did set up the Khanate of the
Golden Horde in Russia, but it didn’t leave much lasting impact on the institutions of
the region, which had already been set up by the Kievans. But they did bring about a
population shift — away from the South, where Kiev was, toward the Northeast. This
was partly to get away from the Mongols and their massacring, but that noted, the Mongols
were comparatively light rulers: They were happy to live in their yurts and collect tribute
from the ever-bickering Russian princes. And all the princes had to do in exchange for
their relative freedom was recognize the Mongol khans as their rulers and allow the Mongols
to pick the Grand Prince from among the Russians. Perhaps most importantly, Mongol rule cut
the Russians off from the Byzantines and further isolated them from Europe, leaving Russia
not Byzantine, not European, and not really Mongol either, since they hated the Mongols
and generally believed the Mongols were a scourge sent from God to punish them for their
sinfulness and everything. But the Mongols did help propel Moscow to
prominence and in doing so, created the idea that this was Russia. And as an aside, they
also did what Napoleon, Hitler, and many others couldn’t: The Mongols successfully conquered
Russia in the winter. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So how did the Mongols help catapult Moscow
and its princes to prominence? Well, first, they named Muscovite princes The Grand Prince
on more than one occasion. More importantly, the Muscovite princes won — that is to say
purchased — the right to collect tribute on behalf of the Khan from other princes.
That’s a good gig because it’s easy to skim a little bit off the top before you send
it down the line to the Mongols. Which is precisely what the Muscovites did to enrich
themselves. One prince who was particularly good at this was known as Ivan Kalita. Using
my Russian, I can tell you that that translates to “Johnny Moneybags.” As my Russian professor
would tell you, I’m a “creative” translator. All this loot helped Moscow expand their influence
and buy principalities. The Mongols also helped them more directly by attacking their enemies.
Plus Moscow was at the headwaters of four rivers which made it well-positioned for trade.
And because they were kind of the allies of the Mongols, the Mongols rarely attacked them
– which meant that lots of people went to Moscow because it was relatively safe. Including
churchy people. In fact, Moscow also became the seat of the Eastern Orthodox church in
1325, when the Metropolitan Peter moved there. So you might think that the Muscovites would
be grateful for all this help from the Mongols, but you would be wrong. As the Mongols’
position weakened in Russia in the latter half of the 14th century, one of Moscow’s
princes Dmitry Donskoy made war on them and inflicted the first major defeat of Mongols
in Russia at battle of Kulikovo Field. This showed that the Mongols weren’t invincible,
which is always really bad for an imperial force. Plus it made Moscow look like the hero
of the Russians. And that helped strengthen the idea of a unified Russia, just as you’ll
remember the Persians helped unify the Greeks a long time ago. Aiding this growth was stability,
which Moscow owed largely to luck: Muscovite princes usually had sons which allowed them
to have successors. In fact, there was only one major succession struggle and it was between
two blind guys named Basil. That’s not a joke by the way. Oh, it’s time for the Open
Letter? An Open Letter to Basil and Basil. But first, let’s see in the Secret Compartment.
Oh, it’s Grizzlor! Yeah, I guess that is kind of how the Russians saw the Mongols. Dear Basils,
The 15th century Muscovite civil war was insanely complicated, but it culminated with you guys
essentially blinding each other. First, Basil II, the eventual winner of the civil war,
had Basil the cross-eyed blinded. Because being cross-eyed wan’t bad enough. And that
was seen as the end of the political career of Basil the Cross-Eyed. But then Basil the
Cross-Eyed’s brother tracked down Basil II and he was like “Imma blind you back!”
And of course, everybody thought that would end Basil II’s political career, but they
were wrong. It turns out you can rule Russia like a Boss even if you’re blind.
Best wishes, John Green After Basil the Blind came the real man who
expanded Moscow’s power, Ivan III, later known as Ivan the Great. First, he asserted
Russian independence from the Mongols and stopped paying tribute to the khan– after
the khan had named him Grand Prince, of course. Then, Ivan purchased, negotiated for or conquered
multiple appanages, thus expanding Muscovite power even more. Ivan later declared himself
sovereign of all Russians and then married the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, thus
giving him even more legitimacy. And he took titles autocrat and tsar, which means Caesar.
Basically, Ivan created the first centralized Russian state and for doing that he probably
deserves title “the Great.” And that would be a good place to stop, except
then we won’t see the type of absolute rule that characterized Russia for most of the
rest of its history, even unto Putin. OH GOD. JUST KIDDING PUTIN! YOU’D NEVER RIG AN ELECTION..
N-NO…PLEASE DON’T PUT ME IN JAIL! While Ivan III consolidated Muscovite power,
the undeniable brutal streak in Russian governance comes not from the Mongols, but from Ivan
IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible. Ivan IV ruled from 1533 to 1584, taking the throne
at age 16, yet more evidence that adolescents should not be trusted with emerging empires.
Ivan the Terrible’s reign represents the end of princely power and the beginning of
the autocracy that Russia is famous for. But in the beginning, he was really an innovative
leader. As a young king, he worked with a group of advisers called the Chosen Council,
which certainly sounds like a good thing. He also called the very first meeting of the
zemsky sobor, a grand council of representatives similar to the estates general that would
become so important in France two hundred years later. And also reformed the army, emphasizing
the new technology of muskets. But in the second part of his reign, Ivan
earned his nickname, the Terrible — which can mean either bad or just awe-inspiring,
depending on your perspective. Psychological historians will point out that things started
go terribly wrong with Ivan after the death of his beloved wife, Anastasia Romanov. Or
they might point to the fact that he enjoyed torturing animals when he was a kid. Regardless, Ivan set out to break the power
of the nobility– the former princes and landowners called the boyars. They were the last link
to princely rule. And after an odd episode that saw him briefly “abdicate,” Ivan
returned to Moscow and declared he had the right to punish all traitors and evildoers.
To help him in this effort, Ivan created the oprichniki, a corps of secret police who rode
around on black horses, wearing all black, whose job it was to hunt down and destroy
any enemies of the tsar. See also: Nazgûl and Dementors. So this was the first of Russia’s
purges. And over the latter half of Ivan’s reign, whole towns were destroyed. It was,
in effect, a civil war, except with no resistance. One historian called it a civil massacre.
In the end, Ivan IV established absolute control of the tsar over all the Russian people, but
he also set the precedent of accomplishing this through terror, secret police, and the
suspension of law. And that would echo through the ages of Russian history… I mean, until
Vladimir Putin heroically put an end to it. His little eyes. They’re scary… So, hence the stereotype of Russian brutality
and barbarism, but here’s the truth; the rest of Europe also knew a lot about brutality
and secret police forces. But for centuries, Russia was seen by western Europe as both
European and not, an “Other” that was to be doubly feared because it was not fully
Other. And when we think of all these historical stereotypes about Russia, it’s worth remembering
that what you see as barbaric about others is often what they see as barbaric about you.
Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan
Muller, our script supervisor is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history
teacher Raoul Meyer and myself. Our graphics team is Thought Bubble, Last week’s Phrase
of the Week was: “Nobody’s business but the Turks” If you want to suggest future phrases
of the week or guess at this week’s you can do so in comments where you can also ask
questions related to today’s video that will be answered by our team of historians. Thanks
for watching, and as we say in my hometown, Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.

100 thoughts on “Russia, the Kievan Rus, and the Mongols: Crash Course World History #20

  1. Ну, как говорится:

  2. It's Kyiv, officialy , it's the right spelling, not the russian one Kiev , which left from old time of soviet occupation of Ukraine. Kievan Rus was mostly territory of modern Ukraine and Belarus , with small eastern part of russian lands. You didn't mention that before Vladimir the Great there were two cristian rulers of Rus:prince Askold 860, and princess Olga, who was even baptized in Konstantinopol.3:26 if you noticed, ukrainians stopped the mongols from spreading to Europe, especially Prince of Galichina and Volyn, Danylo, who was even crowned by Pope as the "king of Rus"( his land was western Ukraine and he fought against Mongolians with his allies: Hungary, Poland even Austria, while Russians and eastern ukrainians still lived under Mongolian yoke.)

  3. Russia owe largely to mongol
    Kieven rus Slavic ppl or Vikings
    Trade important to Kiev raw materials fur slave and relied on agriculture
    Tax debt then bound proletariat
    Grand princ became Byzantine Christianity
    War with pastoralist nomads appanige Russia
    Khanate of Golden Horde bring a population shift get away from mongols collect tribute allow mongol to pick Prince
    Separated from Byzantine
    Indirect rule muscovite Prince
    Peter the great unified russia after beating mongols
    Ivan the great independence from mobile
    Autocratic tear centralized Russian tsar

  4. At the moment, archaeological evidence that Rus` was founded more scandinavians. Those. the top elite initially consisted of the inhabitants of the Baltic Sea – scandinavians and finno-Ugrians. The construction of statehood in the Old Russian kingdom came from the north, from Veliky Novgorod and Ladoga. And the slavs in the territory of Novgorod was not more than half the population. The main population of the Novgorod Republic consisted of the baltic+slavic and finno-ugric peoples.

  5. Khazarian empire fled from turkey to kiev, killing the indigenous Slavic people and occupied the area. The Khazar are fake Jews, which now most of the Jews who call themselves Jews aren't

  6. L K
    1 year ago (edited)
    Novhorod – well he does refer to it a little when speaking of Ivan IV terror, as he actually massacred Novgorod to establish Russian (Muscovite) system Russia is known for now. And Novgorod always had its Norse roots and heritage that made it different from other cities anyway (vece system is adopted Scandinavian thing etc).

  7. the rus were scandinavians in generaly swedes the majority of the Population was slavic but the lords were vikings but the last only scandinavian emperor died i think in 1147 But im not sure sorry for my enhlsih rus was back then the finnish/baltic word for swedes

  8. The population of Rus was Slavic, yes. But the ruling dynasty, the Rurikid, came from Scandinavia and were Vikings. They eventually assimilated with the Slavs.

  9. The word Russia is a Greek version of Rus, but Ukraine in the time of Mongols was known as Ruthenia which was like a Latin word for Rus.

  10. Sooo anyone have like notes for AP world history that are practical and can get me to pass the AP world exam besides watching these videos?!

  11. The Kremlin was white in the middle of the 14th century. And before that, the Kremlin was made of wood.

  12. Barbarian comes from a greek word that meant anyone who did not speak ancient greek. So basically, we're all barbarians!

  13. Kievan Rus is not Russia ! You should ask ukrainians what they think about this (the russian) tale of History…

  14. Roman rule in Russia….is key….the native of Russia were not Christian…Christianity is a Roman construct….the divide and conquer strategy…..if priests from the Roman Empire crown anybody then that anybody is under Roman rule…period…Peter…petro…very Roman name….so no matter how chaotic their history tries to be…this is just another takeover by Roman Empire taking native lands from people's of this area….that's why this guyots not talk about the natives of Russia…this presentation is a Catholic, Roman Catholic presentation…so…Rome, controls…also controls the opposition…and if you don't like those two choices you get the assassins, the third rail….to rule over you…it's old….the hackers have names, addresses, bank accounts, private bomb shelter locations, bank vault locations….there is nothing hidden…that's why they are looking to colonize space…because all of their places on earth…have been hacked….nowhere to run….

  15. Вы же тоже не сразу поняли, что момент ya govoryu po-russki в самом начале был на русском?

  16. What do leftist democrats, Jewish folks, Ukrainians and homosexuals, have in common? They all hate President Putin with unrivaled passion! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  17. How could they have got slaves ftom Africa? We know only Africans were ever enslaved (see episode on Atlantic slave trade)!

  18. Excuse me they weren’t Russian in the Kyivian rus Coz first Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine and Second before Knas Danilo dies he made another city for his son called Lviv and its also in Ukraine so it essentially to mention about Ukraine coz they will find it racist coz u technical u call the Russians

  19. Aaaaaaahhhhhgh! It's Bah-zill, not Bay-zill! Bah as in bah humbug. Bah as in back. Signed: Basil.

  20. 5:10 you put Moscow in a wrong spot on the map. You put Moscow north of the Volga river but Moscow is more south than that. Moscow is actually located between the Volga river and the Oka river. It’s a minor mistake but I’m Russian and I know where my city is located. It’s like putting Washington DC closer to New York than Virginia. It’s close enough on a map but not accurate

  21. Russia was never kievan rus .. they were called rysyni later ukrainians who spoke ruthenian (old ukrainian) russia word didnt exist … you miss soo much info just becouse you read wiki not antiques russians came from moscow( reya tribe , later moscovites aka moscow) 100 years after mongols came more correct "golden horde" russians (moscovites) have tatar and mongol roots finnic ppl moscovites were part of the urus then even wrote in arabic on their armor and weapons .. then collected the yak from all slavic kingdoms around them for the ulus and golden horde.. there is so much more such as fake unearned titles for themselves..

  22. The name Moscow is, strangely enough, not Slavic but Finno-Ugric. Finnic tribes living in the area were gradually absorbed by the Slavs moving into the region.
    Moscow was first mentioned in historical documents in 1147 AD, as one of the holdings of Prince Yuri the Long Arm of Kiev, it was not a principality or even a city at this point – more like a trading post and a fortress on the Oka river – what would become the Moscow Kremlin. The word Kremlin literally means "fortified location/palace", near every Russian city had one, and some have been preserved.
    The first Prince of Moscow was Daniel Alexandrovich, son of the famous Alexander Nevsky, who was granted the fiefdom by the Golden Horde in return for his and his father's support. Nevsky defeated Swedish and Teutonic invasions, but did submit to the Mongols without a fight and went to Kazan to pay tribute to the Khan, rightly judging that there was no hope in fighting the Horde at this time.

  23. 8:40 I did not know psychological historians existed.
    And at first when he said "psychological historians" I thought he was going to say something about the average persons psychological state.
    And not Ivan's

  24. I knew it!!!

    Too bad the Byzantine line is illegitimate!!! Lmfao. Never was Rome. So some trash ended up in Russia. Figures.

    Some in France and Italy and German principalities…. etc.

    So not until Peter the Great was Real nobility introduced…. and the evil wizards killed the royal family… so… yeah.

    Mainly Russian aristocrat priests who ruined Russia… typical.

    The Jews were a northern Caspian invention, build from stolen children from tribes that had there tech stolen. All claim Jewish ancestry but very few are Hebrew or Judean. Just practicing what there mother taught them… that's how we know. The maternal line. There missing the chromosome and are… "lacking:…. men hebrews, Jews WERE the females… all were Olympic that were loyal to Zeus as the ONE TRUE LORD ALMIGHTY… that would evolve into the nameless Lord Almighty that we worship today and where we get the original Holy Trinity.

  25. RUSSIA and KIEVAN RUSS – two different things. There was no  RUSSIA before MONGOL came.

    Thez are Mongols till now. Forget about KEIV. KIEV is UKRAINE. RUSSIA SUCKS.

  26. Russia has never been Kyivan Rus’. Until the 18th century, Russia was called Moskovia, not Russia. And in general, the Rus’ lands are the lands of Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, that is, Ukraine. And the history of the Russian Orthodox Church begins in the 15th century with the split from the Metropolitanate of Kyiv. Moscow Trars have no relation to the Kniaz of Kyiv.

  27. Dude, John, you NEED to make a video on the Khazarian Empire! You are neglecting one of the most interesting and socially complex civilizations in history!!!!

  28. Normans were french-speaking vikings, then they go to england and talk english, go to italy and talk italian, so does viking go to russia and talking slavic language, viking go to constantinople and they talk in greek, vikings captured in andalusia and they talk in arabic, viking go to ireland and became irish-speakers

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