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XVII. MEDIEVAL RUS’-UKRAINE AND THE EMERGENCE OF THE THREE EAST-SLAV NATIONS

Final conclusions

In the summation of our study on the question “Medieval Rus’- Ukraine and the Emergence of the three East-Slav Nations” we reach the following conclusions:

1. The three East Slavic peoples, later nations — Ukrainian, Russian and Byelorussian — were formed separately out of the ethnic substratum of that population which had been living on the present territory of these three nations at least since Neolithic times. Archeology shows that in few areas in the world has there 'been through thousands of years so stable a population.

2. In the independent formation of the three East Slavic nations there have been three great factors: a) the geographical structure of the East European area; b) the connections of the population of the separate parts of this area with their neighbors; c) the difference in the ethnic substrata since prehistoric times.

3. The most important factor in the independent formation of the spiritual and material life of the Ukrainians, Russians and Byelorussians was the division of the East European area into parallel zones from the Black Sea to the north; these zones were the steppe, the forest steppe, the dense forest and the arctic tundra. The thick forests of northeastern Europe in ancient and medieval times created a barrier between the peoples and civilizations.

4. Another important factor which played a role in the formation of the three East Slavic nations was the East European river system, especially, the Dnieper, Volga, Dniester, Don and the Baltic rivers, the Dvina and the Niman. As the thick forests were a barrier, the rivers as always in the periods of primitive civilizations, were the one connecting link which turned the development of peoples toward the course of the chief water routes; that of the population of the middle and lower Dnieper toward the Black Sea, that of the population of the Volga valley toward Central Asia and the Caspian Sea, that of the population of the valleys of the Dvina and the Niman toward the Baltic Sea.

5. The earliest of the three East Slavic peoples to develope was the people of the Rusin-Ukrainians in the region of the steppe and forest steppe north of the Black Sea on both sides of the middle and lower Dnieper. The remote ancestors of the ethnic substratum from which the Ukrainian people was formed was the population of Trypillyan culture which lived along the middle Dnieper from Neolithic times and established there an agricultural and cattle raising civilization at the end of the III and the beginning of the II millenium B.C. The Trypillyans were the stable population of the middle Dnieper valley in prehistoric times. It was only supplemented by ethnic elements of the Iranian peoples who in the first millenium B.C. constantly intruded and intermiryled with the local population and more or less influenced its spiritual and material culture. The Iranian tribes of the Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans and others which dominated this territory for periods, gave their name and external character to the middle Dnieper area, so as later to be absorbed by the old ethnic mass.

6. A fruitful influence on the level of the material and spiritual culture of the population of the middle Dnieper was its connections with the people of high civilization in the lands on the Black and Mediterranean Seas. The most marked influence on the culture of the ancestors of the Ukrainians in early historical times was exerted by the Greeks through their Black Sea colonies.

7. At the time when the Slavs appeared on the historical scene, i.e. after the time of Christ, the inhabitants of the middle Dnieper valley (at least those west of the Dnieper) formed the eastern wing of the Slavic world. During the movement of the Slavs to the south and northeast, in the first centuries A.D., the population of the Dnieper area was using already a Slavic language. In any event this occured before the advance of the Huns in the last decades of the IV century.

8. As a monolithic Slavic group the ancestors of the Ukrainians appeared first on the historic scene in the VI century under the name of the Anty who were settled on almost those same sections of the Black Sea steppe and the forest steppe which is now occupied by the Ukrainian people. The spiritual and material culture of the Anty had on one hand the qualities of the old Trypillyan population, and on the other, the qualities of the historical Rusin-Ukrainians.

9. From the Roman period, there began in the Dnieper valley, and especially in the neighborhood of Kiev, the spreading of trades and soon after й pottery, metal and jewelry production which exported its products along the Dnieper to the north and to the west. At this period the old family system was broken up and its place was taken by a tribal-territorial system. At that time the prince of the Polyane, Kyy, after building fortifications against the people of the steppe, founded Kiev (ca, 560 A.D.) and laid the groundwork of the first state organization of the Ukrainian people under the leadership of his dynasty.

10. In the course of the VII and VIII centuries, there were formed other state organizations on the lands of the Anty, as the Oziv or Tmutorokan’ Rus’ in the southeast and the Dulibsky Alliance in the western Anty lands. There may have been other local states as the White Croatians in the Sub-Carpathians, and the Tyvertsy on the Black Sea and the Ulychi.

11. At the end of the VIII century, the name Rus’ first appears as applied to Tmutorokan’ Rus’ (perhaps of Allan origin); soon this name was also applied to Kievan or Polyanskian Rus’. It is not excluded that the first Varangian groups which appeared in the VIII century on the Anty lands had the name of “ruotsi”-Rusy.

12. In the first half of the IX century, the state organization with its capital at Kiev, Kievan Rus’, already had united the entire left bank of the zones of the steppe and forest steppe, i.e. the regions of Chernihiv and Pereyaslav. The kernel of this state organization, the land of the Polyane, extended also into the western part of the middle Dnieper valley. At the time the Khozar Kaganate extended its protectorate over Kievan Rus’ but this was thrown off by the Princes Askold and Dyr, the first Christian rulers of Kievan Rus’. Askold and Dyr were violently removed from power by bands of Varangians who came from the north, Novgorod the Great, under the leadership of Oleh to Kiev and became masters of Kievan Rus’ between 879 and 882.

13. Somewhat later the ethnic mass of the Byelorussian people began to take shape in the western part of the zone of dense forest, in the valley of the upper and middle course of the Dvina and Niman, and also in the headwaters of the upper Dnieper. The ethnic substratum of this people was a population of Indo-European origin, which had been living in the area since Neolithic times, and were the ancestors of the present Lithuanians and Letts. They lived by hunting and fishing and later also took up agriculture. During the migration of the Slavs (perhaps in the V century), they moved into this area part of the western Baltic Slavs who slavized the original population. The culture of these Slavs was lower level than that of the Anty Slavs of the steppe and the forest steppe. Somewhat later, perhaps in the VII-VIII century, the family system here disintegrated and was replaced by a tribal — territorial order with historic tribes — the Kryvychi in the upper ranges of the Dnieper and Dvina, the Drehovychi in the headwaters of the Niman and the northern branches of the Pryp’yat’, the Radymychi in the valley of the Sozha. The first state centres on the present territory of the Byelorussian people arose in Polotsk and Smolensk. The Kryvychi in early times colonized the headwaters of the upper Volga, the lands of the present Russians on the east and the lands of the Slovini on the north. Polotsk had already established connections with the peoples of the Baltic.

14. At the same time when the Slavs were advancing from the west into the area of the present Byelorussian people, another group of Slavs went further to the north into the neighborhood of Lake Ilmen, where after the disintegration of the family system, they established their state centre — Novgorod the Great. To the south of this city, in the area of the Slovine-Kryvychi colonization arose a second state centre — Pskov. Having an easy access to the Baltic Sea, the Ilmen Slavs established, perhaps at the end of the VIII century, contacts with the Baltic peoples and with the Swedish Varangians who in the first half of the IX century under the leadership of Ryuryk secured control not only of the lands of the Slavs but spread their rule over the neighboring Byelorussian territories to the south and in the second half of the IX century, began to capture sections of the dense forest on both sides of the upper Dnieper. The Ilmen or Novgorod Slavs became a basis for a fourth independent East Slavic people, the people of Great Novgorod. In 1478 this was taken by the Prince of Moscow and in time it was assimilated by the Muscovite people.

15. Chronologically the last of the East Slavic peoples to begin to take shape was the Russian people or Muscovite, as it is called in Ukrainian. The ethnic substratum of the present Russians was a Finnish population which had lived in the eastern part of the dense forest belt since Neolithic times. It lived by hunting and fishing and led a very primitive existence for centuries while in the steppe and forest steppe zones the southern culture had greatly developed. After the migration of the Slavs, the areas of the upper Volga and its tributaries were colonized from the west by the Kryvychi, from the northwest by the Slovini, from the south by the Siveryane and the Vyatychi, a Slavic tribe which lived in the tributaries of the Oka and were fully absorbed into the ethnic sub stratum of then Russian people. On these border colonized areas of the Finnish ethnic substratum there began to be formed at the end of the VIII and the beginnig of the IX centuries the territorial-state centres of the principalities of Rostov and Murom, which in the middle of the IX century came under the rule of the Novgorod Varangians.

16. The decisive events in the history of the formation of the East Slavic people were the advance of the Varangians on Kiev (ca. 879), their domination of the state of Kievan Rus’, the transfer by Oleh of his capital from Novgorod to Kiev and the annexation to Kievan Rus’ of wide areas of the dense forest, i.e. the territories of the present Byelorussian and Russian people and also then in a period of independent development, of the people of Great Novgorod.

17. The advance of the Varangians under Oleh to Kievan Rus’ had two results: a) it hastened the union of all the former Anty, ethnically Ukrainian tribes into one state — Kievan Rus’; b) by the annexation of the former non-Rus’, ethnically alien regions to Kievan Rus’, Oleh created a multi-ethnic state formation — an empire with Kievan Rus’ in the dominant position.

The dominant position of Kievan Rus’ was evident from the structure of the state. It was composed of Kievan Rus’-Ukraine and of the territories dependent on it and bound to pay it tribute. So the new Kievan Rus’ Empire was characterized by the Byzantine emperor and writer, Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the middle of X cent.

18. The establishment of a Varangian dynasty in Kiev brought as its first result the union to the dominant Kievan Rus’ of almost all the kindred thnic tribes (the Anty), partly peaceably, partly through conquest. Thus at the end of the IX century, still under the reign of Oleh, all the ethnic Ukrainian lands were added to Kievan Rus’ and began to be called Rus’ or the Rus’ Land. The common life of the kindred tribes in Kievan Rus’, which represented the role of sovereign of the empire, produced a feeling of the spiritual kinship of the population, called Rusychi or Rusyny. The Christianization and rapid growth of the national culture under Volodymyr the Great and Yaroslav the Wise ended the thousand year long process of the formation of this people. So in the middle of the XI century, the Rus’ or Ukrainian people was already formed.

19. With the creation of one state area from the Gulf of Finland to the Black Sea there opened for this area new markets of trade with the Byzantine Empire, with the Balkans and the Arab lands of high culture, on the one hand, and with the Baltic lands, on the other. The directing nerve of this trade was the long known, but now organized and protected by the state administration, the line of the Dnieper “from the Varangians to the Greeks”.

It went from the Black Sea along the Dnieper to the land between the upper Volga, the Dvina and the net of northern river and lake routes to the Baltic Sea. In the area between the rivers near Smolensk was built a transfer of wares by “volok” — carry, as in the south so as to avoid the Dnieper rapids. The northern station on this route was Novgorod the Great. Smolensk became a centre of the territories of the upper carryies, Kiev was the centre of the “route from the Varangians to the Greeks”. Thus the empire of Kievan Rus’ became one economic basin.

20. The great profits facilitated the gigantic growth of culture in Kievan Rus’-Ukraine and in Kiev itself. The economic advantage of belonging to the Rus’ state-empire tempered the antagonism of the northern non-Rus’ tribes to Kiev but did not completely eliminate it. It appeared in full force when the firm hand of Kiev weakened and the one entire economic structure fell apart in the middle of the XII century.

21. The factors which brought into one whole the multi-national Rus’ state were: a) the strong central government of the Kievan princes, resting on the military power of the Varangians; b) the economic system of the state, which rested on the “Road from the Varangians to the Greeks”; c) after the Christianizing of Rus’ the Christian faith and the one Church under the rule of the Kievan metropolitans; d) the growth of culture which along with Christianity began to assimilate the many ethnic elements of the north by producing a state patriotism in all parts of the empire.

22. After the death of Yaroslav the Wise the unity of the empire tottered and in the middle of the XII century it ceased to exist with the results: a) of weakening the central rule of the Kievan princes after the assimilation of the Varangians and the lack of a foreign armed force: b) the division of the Rus’ land into fiefs according to the terms of the Statue of Seniority, established by Yaroslav the Wise; c) the destruction of a single economic structure of the state and its division into separate economic regions after the interruption of the Dnieper route by the Polovtsy in the southern stretches; d) the intensifying of the centrifugal forces resting on the ethnic and spiritual differences of the population of the northferh-territories which had been joined to Kievan Rus’; and e) the constant attacks of the nomands on Rus’ from the east.

23. The assimilative forces of Christianity and the culture of Kievan Rus’-Ukraine began to work over the area of the entire state in the time of Volodymyr the Great, but Christianity took firm root in the northern lands only at the end of the XI century. The division of the empire into the state of Kievan Rus’ and its annexations became less clear after the death of Yaroslav the Wise, when many Rurykovychi acquired fiefs outside of Kievan Rus’. Then the name “Rus’ Land” or “Rus’ state” applied formerly only to Kievan Rus’ was applied to the entire state-empire so as to arouse patriotism and to interest in the state unity the population of all the lands. Meanwhile the name Rus’ remained as the ethnic name of the post-Anty Ukrainian Slavs, i.e. was applied exclusively to Kievan Rus’ - Ukraine.

24. The concept of “Land” in the legal documents of the day and the Chronicles is equivalent to the concept of the state. The terms “Lands” was applied not only to the individual fief-states of the empire of Rus’, but also to foreign countries (the Greek Land, the Lyadska (Polish) Land, the Hungarian Land etc.).

25. The centrifugal forces appeared soonest in Byelorussian Polotsk, even in the time of Volodymyr the Great. The antagonism of Polotsk which lay off “the Road from the Varangians to the Greeks” and economically was more interested in the Baltic trade by the Dvina, appeared in the establishment of a local dynasty of Rohvolod and after its annihilation by the inheritors of this dynasty in the female line. Polotsk in the XI century was considered almost an independent prncipality. Smolensk approched a political anti-Kievan line in the second half of the XII century, after the breakdown of the economic system which dependended upon the water route of the Dnieper. The union of the population of the Byelorussian lands into one people took place only in the Lithuanian state, to which these lands were annexed at the beginning of the XIV century.

26. Novgorod the Great constantly rivalled Kiev and so it never applied the name Rus’ Land to itself. In the second half of the XII century, after the collapse of the economic structure of the Rus’ state, Novgorod became politically and economically independent, and began to develop its state along the northern border of the dense forests as far as the Urals and although it recognized formally the rule of the prince it was transformed into a commercial republic modelled on the cities of the Hanza of which Novgorod was a member.

27. The chief ethnic base of the Russian people were the Finnish tribes which had lived in the headwaters of the upper Volga since Neolithic times. Archeology bears testimony that they lived by hunting and fishing with a primitive level of culture. The climate and the hard conditions of life made them realists, able to work collectively. As a result of the colonization by Sloviny, the Kryvychi, the Vyatychi and the Siveryane, the Finnish population was slavized and on these areas arose two principalities — Rostow and Murom in the middle of IX cent. The annexation of the basic territories of the present Russian people — Rostow, Murom and the tribe Vyatychi to Kievan Rus’-Ukraine and their incorporation into the Rus’ empire occured against the wishes of their population and this rebelled against the Christianization.

28. The udilni (feudal) princes, who acquired these principalities as the newly organized Land of Suzdal, governed among the non-Slavic or half-Slavic population autocratically, with the help of their apparatus of the druzhyna and administration, brouth from Rus’, since they did not need as in Rus’ to take into account the leading families or the boyars, who did not exist there at first. The absolute rule of the prince characterized the princely system on these territories from the beginning.

29. The decisive influence for a separatist position of these territories from Kiev and Kievan Rus’ came in the middle of the XII century when they were organized as the Suzdal Land, with the dynasty of the Yuriyevychi, founded by the youngest son of Volodymyr Monomakh, Yuri Dovgoruky. The policy of the Yuriyevychi rested on these principles: with all their power to undermine the strength and significance of Kiev in the Rus’ state, and at the same time to elevate their own principality with its capital at Suzdal, later at Vladimir on the Klyazma. So Yuri Dovgoruky’s successors Andri Bogolyubsky and Vsevolod Yuriyevych, called Large Nest were, a) in constant alliance with the Polovtsy, whom they inspired to attack Kievan Rus’. The most telling blow of this Suzdal-Polovtsy alliance was the interruption by the Polovtsy in the southern part of Ukraine of the trade route along the Dnieper and the other trading routes in the southeast, which destroyed the entirety of the economic system of the Rus’ state and hastened its disintegration; b) the improverishment of Kiev itself, the Mother of the cities of Rus’; c) the alliance of the Yuriyevychi with the Byzantine empire against the Kievan princes; d) the support by the SuzdaLVlrfclimir princes of the policy of the Byzantine patriarch, who opposed the nationalization of the Rus’-Ukrainian Church; e) the creation of their own economic area oriented along the line Volga-Novgorod.

30. As a result of the policy of the Yuriyevychi carried on through the second half of the XII century along the lines of these principles there arose in the headwaters of the upper Volga a new Suzdal-Vladimir state unity politically, economically and spiritually so far alienated from Kievan Rus’, that it can hardly be considered a part of the Rus’ Land. At the end of the XII and the beginnig of the XIII centuries there was formed there a new Suzdal-Volodymyr people, as the kernel of the Muscovite or Russian people. But in this period there came not only the political but also the spiritual disintegration of the Rus’ state-empire formed by Prince Oleh the Wise.

31. The influences of Kievan culture, basically created by the gfcnius of the Rus’-Ukrainian people lasted longer than the political influence of Kiev on the whole empire. Beginning with the second half of the XI century, under the influence of Kievan culture and the rivalries with Kiev these began to spring up centres of local culture, most rapidly in Novgorod the Great, then in Suzdal and Vladimir on the Klyazma, after in Polotsk and Smolensk.

32. Kievan culture on the territory of the Rus’ multinational state during 300 years, with the help of the Kievan Eastern Christianity, the Kievan literature written in the official Church-Slavic language, the Cyrillic alphabet, with the models of Kievan church art, with the help of the legal system of the “Rus’ka Pravda” and the state administration, left on the cultures of the two other East Slavic peoples, the Russians and Byelorussians, lasting features that still exist. These common cultural accomplishments form the content of the conception of Eastern Slavdom. They are like the common cultural achievements of the group of Romance people, a similar cultural product of the influence of Roman culture on the population of the provinces of the Roman Empire.

33. The theory created in the Soviet Union and approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the existence of “a single Pre-Russian People” during the IX-XI centuries over the whole territory of the Rus’ state, as an historical doctrine on the formation of the three East Slavic peoples is lacking any scientific basis.