By Paul Dukes
With its breadth of scope and conciseness of presentation, this 3rd version of A background of Russia may be precious to scholars of eu and Russian background, and likewise to scholars of Russian language, literature, and social science.
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Extra resources for A History of Russia: Medieval, Modern, Contemporary c. 882–1996
The princes of Moscow were also assisted by the support of the Church. They made their own distinctive individual contribution by siring progeny sturdy enough to allow an unbroken line for more than a century. 11 Some historians, finding Kliuchevskii' s analysis too neat and too Moscow-centred, look for a more reliable interpretation of Moscow's rise in the work of A. E. Presniakov, who died in 1929_12 Presniakov pointed out that while unification reflected a natural tendency and a human aspiration, it was also a dual dynastic process, with both the weakening and strengthening of principalities going on at the same time.
And while paganism produced nothing on the scale of the early medieval cathedrals, it can in no way be equated with barbarism; some of the idols, jewels and decorations which have survived possess their own power and subtlety. To an atheistic historian such as B. A. Rybakov, paganism and Christianity are not to be neatly separated, they rather merge into each other. But even he can distinguish the two enough to make the following appraisal of the sequel to the conversion of Vladimir in 988: The Russians church played a complex and many-sided role in the history of Rus during the 11th-13th centuries.
Essentially, Kliuchevskii argued that the principalities of the north-east had much less solid social structure and cohesion than had Kiev. Their very weakness therefore made them comparatively easy prey for the one among them that was best placed to merge INVASION AND DISUNITY 31 them into a national unit. Moscow was the successful candidate for reasons both geographical and historical. In the first place, the Moscow river, on which it stood, was connected to the Volga with its outlet on the Caspian Sea and led towards the rivers of the north-west flowing into the Baltic Sea.