Byzantine Empire and Russia

Illustratd Timeline

862 A.D.-Rurik takes control of Novgorod

The origin of Russia is dated to 862 when Rurik, a prince of a Varangian tribe called the Rus, began his ruleof the Novgorod in the North. After Rurik's death, Rus lands expanded to include Kiev, which becomes their capital. The Rus princes lent their name to the growing pricipality of Russia.

987 A.D.-Vladimir I converts to Christianity

During the Reign of Vladimir, Christianity spread widely. After his own conversion, he married the sister of a Byzantine emperor. He made Orthodox Christianity the religion of the Rus and began to align his kingdom politically and culturally with the Byzantine Empire. Soon, Russians adopted aspects of Byzantine culture, such as art, music, and arcitecture. Byzantine domes evolved into the onion-shaped domes typical of Russian churches.

1019-1054 A.D.-Reign of Yaroslav the Wise and introduction of the Pravda Russia

Kiev gained strength under Vladimir and his son, Yaroslav the Wise. Yaroslav set up close ties between church and state. Russian rulers, eventually controlled the church, making it dependent on them for support. The Russian Orthodox Church became a pillar of state power. In addition to giving legal status to the Church, Yaroslav had many religious texts translated into the Slavic language. He made improvements to the city and issued a written law code. However, Kiev declined after his death as rival families battled for the throne.

1054-1223 A.D.-Invasion of the Polovtsy

The Polovtsy, also known as the Kipchaks or Cuman, first quarreled with the Russians in 1054. The Polovtsy tried attacking Russia multiple times throughout history. It was not until Vladimir Monomakh's death in 1125, that Russian princes began marrying royal Polovtsy women to gain control of their territories on the Russian borders. From 1170-1180, the Polovtsy attempted to gain complete control of Russia once again but failed. Finally, in 1223, the Mongols ended up defeating the Polovtsy and as a result, the remaining Polovtsy became scattered, either becoming apart of the Golden Horde or joining the military.

1236-1241 A.D.-Invasion of the Mongols

Batu, the Grandson of Genghis Khan, led Mongols armies into Russia. Known as the Golden Horde because of the color of their tents, the invaders looted and burned Kiev and other Russian towns. From their capital on the Volga, the Golden Horde ruled Russia for more than 150 years. Areas that were not directly controlled by the Mongols suffered destructive raids from Mongol armies.

1320-1500 A.D.-Moscow becomes the most powerful Russian principality

Ivan I started as a tax collector in the 1320's, and saw the potential Moscow had because it was situated along so many already established trading routes. Ivan I was able to convince the lead bishop of Europe to move to Moscow, giving the city the most powerful ally, the Church. Through marriages, territory exchanges, land purchases and trickery, Moscow grew tremendously. By the time Ivan the Great III gained control of Moscow, he was able to triple the already enormous territory.

1462-1505 A.D.-Reign of Ivan the Great

During his reign, Ivan III brought much of northern Russia under his rule. He also recovered Russia territory that had fallen into the hands of neighboring Lithuania. Ivan built framework for absolute rule. He tried to limit the power of the boyars, or great landowning nobles. After he married a niece of the last Byzantine emperor, Ivan adopted Byzantine court rituals to emphasize Russia's role as the heir to Byzantine power.

1547-1584 A.D.-Reign of Ivan the Terrible

In 1547, Ivan IV, grandson of Ivan the Great, became first Russian ruler officially crowned tsar. He further centralized royal power by limiting the privileges of the old boyar families and granting land to nobles in exchange for military or other service. At a time when the manor was fading in Western Europe, Ivan IV introducing new laws that tied Russian serfs to the land. About 1560, Ivan IV became increasingly unstable. He trusted no one and became subject to violent fits of anger. In a moment of madness he even killed his own son. He organized the oprichniki, agents of terror who enforced the tsar's will. Dressed in black robes and mounted on black horses, they slaughtered rebellious boyars and sacked towns where people were suspected of disloyalty. The tsar's power, and the way he used it, earned him the title Ivan the Terrible.