The formation of the nation: the colonization of the North-Eastern Russia

In the history of the country it is always important to know those cornerstones, turning points that radically influenced the existing state of affairs, and, in general, the formation of the country and the nation as such. One of such events in Russian history is the Slavic colonization of the North-East of Russia.

The Slavs did not come immediately to the territory of the future Russia, initially living in Central Europe, in the area of ​​Danube, Oder and Vistula. In the west, they bordered the Celts and the Germans, in the south - the Romans, in the north and northeast - with the Baltic and Finno-Ugric tribes, and, finally, in the east - with the Turks and Iranians. Gradually expanding the territory of their settlement, they began to move in all directions: crowding the Celts and Germans, to the west; fighting the Byzantines, to the south, and, in a less bloody way, to the north and east. Populating the areas of the Dniester, the Dnieper, moving into the territory of modern Belarus, they went further. Then, in the Early Middle Ages, the Slavic even reached the Volga - which is confirmed by the Bezvodninsky burial ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region, the burial ground near the village of Popovo on the River Unzha, and, most likely, the Imenko archaeological culture later assimilated by the Turks. The Slavs of the first wave differed from all subsequent ones, and, as Sedov writes, it was characterized by earth burial grounds, in contrast to the burial mounds of a later era. At that time, not so numerous Slavs still had a rather large influence on the local few Finno-Ugric and Balt populations, and, quite likely, even the chronicle measure, mentioned last time in the context of Oleg 907’s campaign, was no longer purely Finno-Ugric, but rather, a mixed Slavic-Finnish tribe. It is quite possible that Rostov was founded by the descendants of those immigrants.

But the wave of Slavic colonization did not end there. With a break of several centuries, other Slavic tribes rushed to the northeast. From the north, settling first in the modern Pskov region, the territories of the future Smolensk region, Yaroslavl region and Suzdal opolya, and partly of the Moscow region, were mastered by the Krivichi, from the south - the territory of the Upper and Middle Oka, and Prony and the Moscow River were inhabited by Vyatichi. The territories of Priilmenye and Beloozero mastered Slovenian Ilmen. All these tribes originated from the territories of modern Germany and Poland.

The settlement map of the Slavs and their neighbors at the end of the VIII century. The borders of some states are shown from the VII c.

The attractiveness of the North-East of Russia for immigrants was due to several reasons. Firstly, a medieval climatic optimum was established here, which allowed to harvest large harvests and maintain stable agricultural activities, secondly, the development of international trade and the availability of the furs depleted in the south also stimulated migrants, and, finally, an important factor eastern lands compared with more southern, where the Slavs were threatened first Avars, and then the Khazars and Pechenegs.

The medieval climatic optimum.

Slavic immigrants gradually assimilated the local population, and so, for example, among the same Krivichy or Vyatichi people find a large Balt substrate. The next wave of Slavic immigration to the Northeast was the mass resettlement of residents of South Russia in the XII-XIII centuries. Escaping from the nomads who plagued Russia, being attracted to their free status in comparison with their gradual enslavement at home, they constantly moved in the direction of Bryansk and Vladimir, establishing new settlements, villages and cities. Under Vladimir Monomakh, a road was laid through the extremely hard-to-pass Bryansk forests, which also contributed to the northeast migration.

Migrants from the territories of the future Ukraine often carried with them the names of cities, and such, for example, the currently existing Russian cities like Pereyaslavl-Zalessky, Galich, Zvenigorod and Yuryev-Polsky have their own analogues in Ukraine. During this period, the colonial activities acquired a centralized character - the princes are now organizing resettlement, relying on the already existing structures, cities and squads. The founder of Moscow, Yury Dolgoruky, began to actively promote resettlement. His son, Andrei Bogolyubsky, who, among other things, refused to fight for the Kiev throne, continued this activity in an effort to build a powerful principality from his northeastern possessions. In an effort to gain dominance in Russia, he ravaged Kiev and besieged Novgorod, having achieved recognition by his grand duke, but did not sit down to rule in the south, creating the prerequisites for the transfer of the capital to Vladimir.

Andrey Bogolyubsky (Victor Vasnetsov. Sketch of painting St. Vladimir's Cathedral in Kiev1885-1896. The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

South Russian immigrants transferred not only the names of their native cities, but also numerous hydronyms to North-Eastern Russia. For example, Pereyaslavl-Zalessky and Pereyaslavl-Ryazansky (Ryazan) are located on the Trubezh River, named after the tributary of the Dnieper, on which stands the southern Pereyaslavl. There are also rivers Lybed, Rpen (Irpen), several rivers named Pochaina, Desna, Sula and other hydronyms transferred from South Russia.

A new wave of relocations occurred after the Mongol invasion and the ruin of the Little Russian lands. It was at the same time that Kiev was completely lost its dominant role - it was ruined, it was never able to recover, and since then has lost any leading meaning. The title of Grand Duke passed from Vladimir to Tver princes, and eventually entrenched for the first, starting with Yuri Daniilovich, and, on a permanent basis, with Ivan Kalita, who were also Moscow princes. At that time, a large number of local nobility, who rose in the new land, and made up such Russian noble families as the Plescheevs, Ignatievs, Zherebtsovs, Pyatovs, Izmaylovs, Bulgakovs, Pustoroslevy and others, moved to the Northeast. In 1299, the residence of the Kiev Metropolitan was transferred to Vladimir, and in 1325 to Moscow.

Grand Duke of Muscovy, engraving Abraham de Brain.

All the migrants were essentially a single cultural and ethnic whole, and therefore, as a result, they took shape into a single Russian nation without any particular problems. The exception here was perhaps that of the Vyatichi, but the last mention of them also dates back to 1197 year. Gradually, the Russian identity spread to all territories of Russia - including the Belarusian and Little Russian lands. The Russian identity, which was at first the identity of the Scandinavian elite, separated from the Slavs, eventually spread to the entire population and became the banner under which they fought and died, seized new lands and defended the old to the last soldier. At the same time, the Scandinavians themselves, similarly to the Franks or Bulgars, dissolved in the Slavic environment, just as they dissolved in the environment of the Gallorimlians or the southern Slavs, without having any special influence on the local cultures.

In the future, it is the northeastern lands that will become the basis of the revived Russian state, prevailing over the lands of Belarus and Little Russia, which fell under the first Lithuanian and then Polish power, both in number and in the state potential, while maintaining their independence policy of the great princes, a powerful enough state, which is then converted into the Russian kingdom and the Russian empire.

Nikita Novsky

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