Eastern Europe and Russia, AP World History p.2

The Silk Road and the Developments It has Made in Eastern Europe by Emily A., 1/27/11

    The Silk Road was a major development in the postclassical era. It was brought on by the Mongols, who reopened it for trade when they conquered the world (essentially). It led to many developments in our world that shaped our world as we know it today. In fact, the Silk Road led to Europeans gaining gunpowder, the Black Death, and the desire for new spices and textiles.
    It is no secret that the Chinese were extremely innovative and spent much of their time doing research. This is why they developed gunpowder first in the 12th century. But China, the ethnocentric and xanophobic people they are, didn't like to share or trade their ideas and things with anyone else. But then how did the Europeans get gunpowder? It was all thanks to the Mongols. In order to keep peace with the Mongols, you just had to do what they said and one of those things that they said was to trade. So, with no other choice China traded with Europe and Europe got gunpowder, that went through Eastern Europe. The gunpowder was a huge advantage that would be of much use to them in the future.
    The Black Death wiped out Europe's population almost overnight. This awful disease would have never gotten to Europe, however, if it wasn't for the Silk Road. The Mongols had the disease, but were used to its effects and could fight it off. But the Europeans couldn't and when it spread to the rats it infected the entire city of London. This was a downfall of trade but it did eventually lead to good things later.
    During this era, new spices and textiles were traded with Europeans due to force from the Mongols, as already established with the Chinese and their gunpowder. No one wanted the crude goods the Europeans had to offer. But the Europeans loved what they got in return: it was new, exotic, and different. This led them to want more of it, so Europe (mostly Western) went to find more ways to go and get it. But when the Mongols were gone, no one wanted what the Europeans had to offer, and they didn't have to take it so they didn't. This did not settle well with the Europeans, so they pulled out their guns that they got from China and used force. Basically, the Mongols are the reason the Europeans even came to power.
    Overall, the Silk Road changed the entire world in many ways in the postclassical era. It shaped the world as we know it and connected the world then for hundreds of years. It is a scary thought to think that we would all be stuffed in Europe now, which is why it is very important that the Silk Road existed.
Emily would like to say that this relates to Eastern Europe because everything that Western Europe got went through Eastern Europe and the Mongols effected the Russians and the entire world.

Three Princes of Kievan Rus' Kristina M, 1/27/11

                In the 6th and 7th century the Scandinavian traders, they were in more power than the \Slavs and which they gradually set up the government alone the trade route. This particularly in the city of Kiev, in this city a government of monarchy formed. Three Princes in played a major role in the development of the civilization of Eatern Europe. The first prince was Rurik, then Prince Vladimir I, lastly the Prince Yaroslav.
                 The First prince was said to be legend, Prince Rurik was a native of Demark. Rurik was born a Viking leader who traditionally is credited with the finding of what we know today as Russia. When leading in the Viking army he lead raids in France, England, and Germany. Soon after he conquered these lands he abandoned his claim for two reasons. The first reason was pressure from the rival tribes, he also abandoned them to become the prince of Kievan Rus.’ Then he became the first prince of Kievan Rus’ in about 855 c.e. Prince Rurik loosely organized through alliances with regional, landed aristocrats, this ideology flourished until about the 12th century. 
                The second prince was Vladimir I, he was not Rurik son but instead the fourth generation from Rurik, though he was the second prince. At the beginning of Prince Vladimir I ruling he was a pagan which at first was to devoted to consolidating his territories into the Russian State. During the 10th century the empire made a close communication to the Byzantine Empire, which was an Orthodox Christian State. Prince Vladimir I converted to Orthodox Christianity in 988. He then made this the official religion of Kievan Rus’. This choice of Vladimir made to became Orthodox Christianity instead of another religion around the area at the time, had a very important influence on the future of Russia. Vladimir had many wives though only two children which his first child Yaroslav became the last Prince of Kievan Rus’.
               Yaroslav was the last to become Prince of Kievan Rus’. Yaroslav was born in 978 and ascended the thrown in 1019. Yaroslav was also called “Yaroslav the Wise,” allowed Kievan Rus’ to achieve the greatest power. Yaroslav built magnificent buildings, most included churches. He also did a lot to develop the education in Kiev Rus,’ by arranging the translation of religious literature from Greek to Slavic, he also did much to develop cultural. After his death, the place became a loose federation of city-states, held together in only a common language, religion, customs and traditions. These smaller cities ruled by descendents oftened war with each other, the states became weak making them easy targets for bands of invading Mongols.
               Between the first and second prince there were three other generations in between but they were not as important as the main three that changed the way Russia developed. The three prices slowly changed the government and religion, the religion, and the development of education and cultural. This made Eastern Europe go through the hardest times at the end of the post classical era.

The Importance of Mongols in Russian History David L. 1/27/2011

                The invasion of the Mongols was an important event in the history of Russia. It occurred during the postclassical period. The Mongols had a great impact on the Russian empire. Their invasion changed the entire history of Russia. Some effects of the Mongol invasion were the changed economy, the rise of Moscow, and the improved political structure.
                Russia’s economy changed after the Mongol invasion. The Mongols destroyed their whole economy. So their economy crashed and they had to start all over again using agriculture. The good thing that happened to their economy was all the trade routes that the Mongols opened up allowed them to trade with other countries. With the trade routes, they were able to trade their products made from their agriculture in exchange for other objects they needed.
                During the invasions, Moscow gained power and became the center of trade. With Moscow as the capital, they began trading with other countries which will restore their economy. Even to this day, Moscow is still the capital of Russia. Moscow as the center of trade in Russia is one of the reasons Russia recovered from the Mongol invasion. Without the Mongols, this would never have happened and Russia today might have been a completely different society.
                After the invasion ended, Russia’s political structure improved since they wanted to make sure this never happened again. One invasion was bad enough so they didn’t want to have to deal with another invasion in the future. They trained their military to make sure they would be able to defend against outside invasions. The Russians were motivated to have a good political and military structure because they didn’t want any more invasions like the Mongol invasion to happen.
                Though most people probably think that the Mongol invasion was a bad thing, if you look at it from a different point of view, it might not be as horrible as everyone thinks. There were some good things from the Mongol invasion, like how Moscow got to rise up and be the capital of Russia.  The invasion also taught them that their defense was too weak and how they shouldn’t be arguing over something but instead they should unite.

Christianity Schism Between East and West Europe, Michael D.  1/28/11
        The split between the Eastern and Latin branches of Christianity took place around 1054, and was one of the most significant events in world history. It defined basically who was who, and also paved the way towards later schisms and developments. It also defined where the borders were between West Europe and East Europe. The split between East and West Christianity is known as the Great Schism, and was one of the most defining moments in european, and later, world, history.
        In the centuries leading up to the Great Schism, tensions had been running high between Constantinople and Western Europe. The West had not been giving Constantinople much-needed support against the Muslim armies, and the Crusaders, unsuccessful in their campaigns against the Muslims, had returned and sacced Constantinople on the way home. Also, the Pope had become the 'universal leader' and had exerted control over all of Europe. The people of East Europe didn't really have a problem with this, but the Pope was in Rome, and he basically swept Constantinople, and with it, most of Eastern Europe, under the carpet. 
        Once the Great Schism hit Europe, it came hard, but not really suddenly. Christianity in the East became the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Christianity in the West became the Roman Catholic Church. The latin branch of Christianity tried to keep Eastern Europe under their wing, but were ultimately unsuccessful, and the East broke off. This event sparked a new kind of war, one where opposing factions of the SAME religion squared off. The effects of this split can be seen even in modern times, since Eastern Orthodox Christians aren't too fond of Roman Catholics.
        The Great Schism also affected world history in the fact that it basically described who was who. What this means is that it defined the societies that fell under the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. In the East, the Emporer was the big religious leader, as he had pretty much always been, only know he had almost complete control over the church, whereas before, he had had almost no control over the church. 
        So, in the end, it can be said the the 'Great Schism' in Christianity was one of the most crucial events in history. It literally shaped the way Europe looks, and paved the way for future developments that would eventually define borders all over Europe.

Russia Converts to Christianity, Richard C. 1/28/11

It’s unknown exactly when Russia converted to Christianity. Missionaries have been said to have traveled to Russia as early as the 4th century. The definite change in Russian religion began with Vladimir I who forced Russian Orthodox Christianity on his people. Vladimir’s conversion to Orthodox Christianity was a choice that gave Russia a new cultural significance

The conversion process was one of blood and death. Russian subjects were forced to convert against their choice or will. Baptisms were done in the presence of military soldiers. The change was brutal but effective. Even today millions of Russians around numbers of 75% of the Russian population is Orthodox Christian. Taking on the new religion was a force in Russia that rallied its citizens. The unification that Christianity brought was not replaced until the rise of communism which in itself was a unifying force on its own that also displayed Russia’s military might as the change to Christianity did.

As legend goes Vladimir I choose Orthodox Christianity as the Russian religion above all others. Vladimir rejected many religions because they interfered with his power. When deciding on the religion of Russia he was unwilling to convert to Judaism or Catholicism because his power would be reduced or undermined by the power of the Pope. When Vladimir chose Orthodox Christianity it began a trend of separation of church and state matters that continues today.

The change to the Orthodox Church is arguably made just to gain cultural significance. The switch to Christianity was made to follow in the footsteps of Russia’s close neighbors, the Byzantines. By switching to Christianity Vladimir I had instigated a new cultural standard that gave Russia a new identity. The nation that Russia followed, Byzantium, was a Christian nation and was notorious for being the second Rome. After the fall of Byzantium Russia took up the title of being the third Rome; showing evidence of their cultural and genetic decendance. By following suit with Byzantium in things like religion it only strengthened their argument for being the newest Rome.

Russia’s conversion to Christianity gave it many things. With Christianity came new unity and cultural influences. The division of the church might not have come about without the conversions in Russia. The change was important in its own day and has shaped Russia to what it is today.

The Mongol Interlude in China

          The Mongol invasion of China was a major event in Chinese history, which involved the defeat of the Jin Dynasty, Western Xia, the Dali Kingdom, and the Southern Song. The Mongols under Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in China and crushed the last Song resistance in 1279, which marked the onset of all of China under the Yuan. This was the first time that whole China was ruled by a non-Chinese ruler. Chinese culture was kept separate from Mongolian ways, with a major difference in trade due to the Silk road, still the Yuan dynasty saw a revival of urban life and high culture.

          The Mongols were a very tolerant nomadic society. As long as they controlled China, they did not care if they kept their culture. The Chinese bureaucrats were discriminated against socially and politically, causing the Mongol elite to rule over ethnic China. Chinese resentment of the invaders was increased by Mongol support for artisans and merchants, upsetting the traditional Chinese ways. Intermarriage was forbidden, yet to this day, Chinese with Mongol descent are of a higher status.
          China is xenophobic and ethnocentric, thus trade was very minimal. When the Mongols came in, the Silk road was a necessity to connect their empire and have trade. While the Chinese silk trade played a minor role in the Chinese economy, it did increase the number of foreign merchants present in China under the Han Dynasty, exposing both the Chinese and visitors to their country to different cultures and religions. In fact, Buddhism spread from India to China because of trade along the Silk Route. Under the Mongols, those in control of the Silk road decreed all merchants must pay commercial and property taxes. The fall of the Mongol Empire led to the collapse of the political, cultural, and economic unity along the Silk Road. By the end of the fourteenth century, trade and travel along the road had decreased for China.
          A rich cultural diversity developed during the Yuan dynasty. The Mongols' extensive West Asian and European contacts through the Silk road produced cultural exchange. Confucian governmental practices and examinations, which had fallen into disuse in north China during this Mongol interlude, were reinstated by the Mongols in the hope of maintaining order over Han society. Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography and geography, and scientific education. Chinese innovations, such as printing techniques, porcelain production, playing cards, and medical literature, were introduced in Europe. 
          In conclusion, the Yuan dynasty was a very different period for China. Under the rule of the Mongols, Chinese government was replaced by the Mongol elite. Still, the Chinese remained separated from the Mongol people, whose tolerance was very large. The opening of the Silk road gave way to influences from the outside world, which China did not usually have. Chinese innovation moved throughout, and China itself enriched its culture. 
Kevin G. 1/28/11