The Decay of the Old Russian State: History, Causes and Consequences

The collapse of the Old Russian state is onefrom the most important and significant processes of the early Middle Ages. The destruction of Kievan Rus left a huge imprint on the history of the Eastern Slavs and throughout Europe. It is rather difficult to name the exact date of the beginning and the end of the fragmentation. The world's largest state has been decaying for almost 2 centuries, drowning in the blood of internecine wars and foreign invasions.

the disintegration of the ancient Russian state
The book "The Decay of the Old Russian State: Briefly" is compulsory for reading at all historical faculties of the post-Soviet space.

The first signs of crisis

The reasons for the collapse of the Old Russian state are similarwith the causes of the fall of all the powerful states of the Ancient World. The establishment of independence from the center by local rulers was an integral part of the progress and development of feudalism. The starting point is the death of Yaroslav the Wise. Prior to this, Rusi was ruled by the descendants of Rurik - the Vikings invited to the reign. Over time, the rule of this dynasty embraced all the lands of the state. In every major city there was one or another descendant of the prince. All of them were obliged to pay tribute to the center and supply the squad in case of war or raids on foreign lands. The central government met in Kiev, which was not only a political but also a cultural center of Russia.

The weakening of Kiev

The collapse of the Old Russian state is not the lastthe turn was a consequence of the weakening of Kiev. There were new trade routes (for example, "from the Varangians to the Greeks"), which went around the capital. Also on the ground, some princes undertook independent raids on nomads and left their looted wealth to themselves, which allowed them to develop autonomously from the center. After the death of Yaroslav, it turned out that the Rurik dynasty is huge, and everyone wants to get power.

The younger sons of the Grand Duke died, a prolonged internecine war began. The sons of Yaroslav tried to divide Rus with each other, finally giving up central authority.

disintegration of the ancient Russian state
A number of principalities are devastated inthe result of wars. This is used by the Polovtsians - nomadic people from the southern steppes. They attack and ravage the borderlands, each time going further. Several princes attempted to repel the raids, but without success.

Peace in Lyubech

Vladimir Monomakh convenes a congress of all princes incity ​​of Lyubech. The main purpose of the gathering was to prevent endless hostility and unite under the same banner to repel the nomads. All those present agree. But at the same time, it was decided to change Russia's domestic policy.

consequences of the collapse of the Old Russian state
From now on, every prince received full power overtheir possessions. He was to participate in common campaigns and coordinate his actions with other principalities. But the tribute and other taxes to the center were abolished.

Such an agreement made it possible to stopbloody civil war, but catalyzed the beginning of the collapse of the Old Russian state. In fact, Kiev lost its power. But at the same time remained the cultural center of Russia. The rest of the territory was divided into about 15 states-"lands" (different sources indicate the presence of 12 to 17 such entities). Almost until the middle of the 12th century, the world reigned in 9 principalities. Each throne became inherited, which influenced the appearance of dynasties in these lands. Between the neighbors there were mainly friendly relations, and the Kiev prince was still considered "the first among equals."

That's why the real struggle for Kiev unfolded. Several princes could simultaneously rule in the capital and in the uyezds. The constant change of various dynasties led the city and the surrounding area to decline. One of the first examples of the republic in the world was the Novgorod Principality. Here, the privileged boyars (the descendants of the vigilantes who received the land) firmly established power, essentially limiting the influence of the prince. All the basic decisions were taken by the people's veche, and the "leader" was entrusted with the functions of the manager.


The final disintegration of the Old Russian stateoccurred after the invasion of the Mongols. Feudal fragmentation contributed to the development of individual provinces. Each city was directly governed by the prince, who, being in place, could correctly allocate resources. This contributed to the improvement of the economic situation and the significant development of culture. But along with this, the defense capability of Rus fell considerably. Despite the Lyubecheskiy Mir, internecine wars have repeatedly occurred for a particular principality. They were actively attracted by the Polovtsian tribes.

the final disintegration of the ancient Russian state

By the middle of the 13th century, Russia was in a terrible statea threat - the invasion of the Mongols from the east. To this invasion the nomads were preparing for several decades. In 1223 there was a raid. His goal was to reconnoitre and get acquainted with the Russian troops and culture. After this, Batu Khan planned to attack and enslave Rus entirely. The first to hit were Ryazan land. Their Mongols ravaged in a few weeks.


The Mongols successfully used the internal situationin Russia. The Principalities, although they did not fight each other, conducted an absolutely independent policy and did not rush to the aid of each other. Everyone was waiting for a neighbor's defeat in order to benefit from it. But everything changed after the complete destruction of several cities in Ryazan. The Mongols used the tactics of raids on the scale of the state. In total, from 300 to 500 thousand people took part in the raid (taking into account the detachments recruited from the conquered peoples). While Rus could put up no more than 100 thousand people from all principalities. Slavic troops had superiority in armament and tactics. However, the Mongols tried to avoid general battles and preferred rapid surprise attacks. The superiority of numbers made it possible to bypass large cities from different sides.


Despite the ratio of forces of 5 to 1, the Ruses were givenbrutal rebuff to the invaders. The losses of the Mongols were much higher, but they were quickly replenished by prisoners. The collapse of the Old Russian state was halted thanks to the consolidation of the princes before the threat of complete annihilation. But it was too late. The Mongols swiftly moved deeper into Russia, ruining one destiny after another. Within three years, the 200,000-strong army of Batu stood at the gates of Kiev.

the beginning of the collapse of the Old Russian state
Brave Ruses defended the cultural center beforethe last, but the Mongols were at times more. After the capture of the city, it was burnt and almost completely destroyed. Thus, the last unifying fact of the Russian lands - Kiev - ceased to play the role of a cultural center. At the same time, the raids of the Lithuanian tribes and the campaigns of the Catholic German orders began. Russia ceased to exist.

The consequences of the collapse of the Old Russian state

By the end of the 13th century, practically all the lands of Russiawere under the rule of other peoples. The Golden Horde rules in the east, Lithuania and Poland - in the west. The reasons for the collapse of the Old Russian state lie in the fragmentation and lack of coordination between the princes, as well as the unfavorable foreign policy situation.

the disintegration of the ancient Russian state
Destruction of statehood and stay underThe desire to restore unity to all Russian lands catalyzed foreign oppression. This led to the formation of a powerful Moscow kingdom, and then the Russian Empire.

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