VLADIMIR (972--1015)--CONVERSION OF THE RUSSIANS.
The Slav tribes owe their organization to a twofold conquesta military conquest which came from the North, and an ecclesiastical conquest which came from the South. The Varangians sent them chiefs of war, who welded their scattered tribes into a nation ; the Byzantines sent missionaries, who united the Slavs among themselves and to their civilized neighbors by the bonds of a common religion.
The man destined to conclude the work of propagandism be. gun by Olga did not at first seem fitted for this great task. Vladimir, like Clovis, was at first nothing but a barbarian--wily, voluptuous, and bloody. Only while Clovis after his baptism is not perceptibly better than he was before, and becomes the assassin of his royal Frankish relations, the Russian annalist seems to wish to establish a contrast between the life led by Vladimir prior to his conversion and the life he led after it. Sviatoslaf left three sons: Iaropolk at Kief, Oleg ruler of the Drevlians, Vladimir at Novgorod. In the civil wars which followed, and which recall the bloody Merovingian anarchy, Iaropolk slew Oleg, and in his turn died by the hand of Vladimir. He fell in love with Rogneda, Iaropolk's betrothed, and demand. ed her in marriage from the Varangian Rogvolod, who ruled over Polotsk. The princess answered, that she would never marry the son of a slave, in allusion to Vladimir's mother having been a servant, though he himself had always been treated by his father as his brother's equal. Maddened by this insult, Vladimir sacked Polotsk, killed Rogvolod and his two sons, and forced Rogneda to marry him. After the murder of Iaropolk, Vladimir also took the wife whom Iaropolk had left enceinte, a beautiful Greek nun, captured in an expedition against Byzantium. These two women he had deprived, one of her husband, the other of her father and brothers. He had, besides, a Bohemian and a Bulgarian wife, and another, all of whom bore him sons. Finally this bastard, this " son of a slave," was so abandoned in his profligacy, that he kept 300 concubines at Vychegorod, 3000 at Bielgorod, near Kief, and 200 at Berestof. Lusting no less after war and plunder, he reconquered Red Russia from the Poles, quelled 4 revolt of the Viatitches and Radimitches, and exacted tribute from the Lithuanian Iatvaguians, and Livonian tribes of Letts or Finns.
The soul of the sensual and passionate barbarian was trou. bled, notwithstanding, by religious aspirations. At first he turned to the Slav gods, and his reign was inaugurated by anew growth of paganism. On the high sandy cliffs of Kief, which tower above the Dnieper, be erected idols ; among them one of Perun, with a head of silver and a beard of gold. Two Varan. gians, father and son, both Christians, were stabbed at the feet of Perun. But the day of the ancient gods was passed; Vladimir was undergoing the religious crisis in which all Russia labored. He felt other faiths were necessary to him ; so, ac. cording to the testimony of Nestor, he took it into his head, like the Japanese of to--day, to institute a search after the best religion. His ambassadors forthwith visited Mussulmans, Jews, and Catholics: the first represented by the Bulgarians of the Volga, the second probably by the Khazars or the Jewish Kharaites, the third by the Poles and Germans. Vladimir declined Islamism, which prescribed circumcision and forbade " the wine, which was dear to the Russians ; " Judaism, whose disciples wandered through the earth; and Catholicism, whose ceremonies appeared wanting in magnificence. The deputies that he sent to Constantinople, on the contrary, returned awestricken. The splendors of Saint Sophia, the brilliancy of the sacerdotal vestments, the magnificence of the ceremonies, heightened by the presence of the Emperor and his Court, the patriarch and the numerous clergy, the incense, the religious songs, had powerfully appealed to the imagination of the barbarians. One final argument triumphed over the scruples of Vladimir. 11 If the Greek religion had not been the best, your grandmother Olga, the wisest of mortals, would not have adopted it," said the boyards. The proud Vladimir did not intend to beg for baptism at the hands of the Greeks--he would conquer it by his own arms, and ravish it like a prey. He de. scended into the Taurid and besieged Cherson, the last city of this region that remained subject to the Emperors. A certain Anastasius, possibly from religious motives, betrayed his coun. try. Rendered prouder than ever by this important conquest, Vladimir sent an embassy to the Greek Emperors Basil and Constantine, demanding their sister Anne in marriage, and threatening, in case of refusal, to march on Constantinople; It was not the first time the barbarians had made this proposal to the Greek Caesars, and Constantine Porphyrogenitus himself teaches his successors how to get rid of these inconvenient demands. But on this occasion the Emperors, who were occupied with revolts in the interior, thought themselves driven to consent, on condition that Vladimir was baptized. It was in Cherson that the Russian prince received baptism, and celebrated his marriage with the heiress of the Emperors of Rome. The priests he brought to Kief were his captives; the sacred ornaments, the holy relics with which he enriched and sanctified his capital, were his booty. When he returned to Kief it was as an Apostle (Isapostolos), but as an armed Apostle that he catechized his people. The idols were pulled down amid the tears and fright of the people. Perun was flogged and thrown into the Dnieper. They still show on the side of the Kievan cliffs the rock called "The Devil's Leap;" and further away, the the place where Perun was thrown up by the waters on the shore. The people instantly rushed to worship him, but the soldiers of Vladimir cast him back into the river. Then, by Vladimir's order, all the Kievans, men and women, masters and slaves, old people and little children, plunged naked into the consecrated waters of the old pagan stream, while the Greek priests standing on the bank with Vladimir read the baptismal service. After a sturdy resistance, the Novgorodians were in like manner forced to hurl Perun into the Volkhoff, and enter it themselves.
We have already seen that the Russians had not lost all recollections of their ancient gods, and that nature was still the home of a whole world of deities. A long time had to pass before Christianity could penetrate into their hearts and customs. M. Bouslaef assures us that, even in the 12th century, Christian rites were only practised by the higher classes. The peasants kept their old pagan ceremonies, and continued to contract their marriages " around the bush of broom." They preserved even longer their faith in magicians and sorcerers, who were often of more authority than the priests. Vladimir, at any rate, wished to prepare the transformation. It does not appear that he persecuted the idolaters, but he occupied himself in adorning the churches of his capital, which he had shorn of its idols. On the spot where Perun stood he built the church of Saint Basil, the Greek name which he had taken at his bap. tism. On the place where the two Varangian martyrs had been slain by his orders he raised the church of the Déciatine or theDine, embellished and ornamented with Greek inscriptions by artists who came from the South. He founded schools, where boys studied the holy books translated into Slavonic, but he was obliged to compel the attendance of the children, whose parents, convinced that writing was a dangerous kind of magic, shed tears of despair. Nestor cannot sufficiently praise the reformation of Vladimir after his baptism. He was faithful to his Greek wife, he no longer loved war, he distributed his revenues to the churches and to the poor, and, in spite of the increase of crime, hesitated to inflict capital punishment. " I fear to sin," he replied to his councillors. It was the bishops who had to recall to him the fact that " criminals must be chastised, though with discretion," and that the country must not be left a prey to the Patzinaks. Vladimir, who reminded us formerly of a Northman of the type of Robert the Devil, suddenly becomes the " good King Robert " of Russia.
His wars with the Patzinaks are recorded by Nestor with all kinds of episodes borrowed from the epic poetry. There is the Russian champion who tears in pieces the furious bull, or stifles a Patzinak giant in his arms; there are the inhabitants of Bielgorod, who, having been reduced to famine by the barbarians, let down into wells two large caldrons, one full of hydromel and the other of meal, to make the Patzinaks believe these were natural productions of the soil. We see in the popular songs of what a marvellous cycle of legends Vladimir has become the centre ; but in these bylinas he is neither Vladimir, the Baptist, nor the Saint Vladimir of the orthodox Church, but a solar hero, successor of the divinities whom he destroyed. To the people, still pagans at heart, Vladimir is always the " Beautiful Sun " of Kief.
IAROSLAF THE GREAT (1016--1054)--UNION OF RUSSIA--SPLENDOR OF KIEF.
Vladimir died in 1015, leaving a large number of heirs by his numerous wives. The partition that he made between them of his states tells us what was the extent of Russia at that epoch. To Iaroslaf he gave Novgorod ; to Isiaslaf, son of Rogneda, and grandson of the Varangian Rogvolod, Polotsk ; to Boris, Rostof ; to Gleb, Mourom (these two principalities were in the Finn country) ; to Sviatoslaf, the Drevlians ; to Vsevolod, Vladimir in Volhynia; to Mstislaf, Tmoutorakan, the Tamatarchia of the Greeks; finally, to his nephew Sviatopolk, the son of his brother and victim Iaropolk, the principality of Tourof, in the country of Minsk, founded by a Varangian named Tour, who did not belong to the " blood of princes " any more than Askold and Dir. The history of Vladimir's successors recalls that of the heirs of Clovis. The murder of the sons of Clodomir is paralleled by the assassination of Boris and Gleb, sons of Isapostolos, by the order of Sviatopolk, who usurped the throne of Kief. His two victims were canonized, and henceforth became inseparable, and are, as it were, the Dioscuri of orthodoxy. The prince of the Drevlians perished by the same hand. Iaroslaf resolved to avenge his brothers and to save himself. At this moment, however, he had alienated his Novgorodian subjects, having enticed the principal citizens into his castle, and then treacherously slain them. When he learnt the crimes of Sviatopolk, he trembled for his own life, and threw himself on the generosity of those lie had so cruelly outraged. He wept for his sins before them, and besought their help. " Prince," replied the Novgorodians, with one voice, " you have destroyed our brethren, but we are ready to fight for you." After a bloody war, in which Boleslas the Brave, king of Poland took part, the usurper fled, and died miserably in exile. Iaroslaf had still to defend himself against the Prince of Polotsk and Mstislaf of Tmoutorakan. The latter had acquired great fame from his wars with the Khazars, whom, with the aid of the Greek Emperor, Basil IL, he finally annihilated, and with the Tcherkess, whose chief, a giant named Rhededia, he slew in single combat. At last, Iaroslaf remained the sole master of Russia, and reigned gloriously at Kief. He recalls Charles the Great by some successful wars, but particularly by his code of laws, his taste for building, and his love of letters. in a barbarous age. He owes part of his reputation to the anarchy which followed his death, and which caused his reign to be regretted as the climax of Kievian greatness.
In Poland Iaroslaf revenged on the son of Boleslas the Brave the invasions of his father, and took from him the towns of Red Russia. He fought a bloody battle with the Patzinaks under the walls of Kief, and in their flight part of the vanquished barbarians were drowned in crossing the rivers. It was as fatal a blow to the Patzinaks as that struck by Sviatoslaf at the Khazars : they never recovered it. But in the same manner as the defeat of the Khazars opened the way to the Pat. zinaks, the ruin of the Patzinaks opened the way to the Polovtsi. The steppes of the Don were incessantly filled by new hordes from Asia. Iaroslaf also fought against the Finnish and Lithuanian tribes. In the country of the Tchouds he founded Iourief (Saint George) on the Embach, near the Peïpus (the Germans called it Dorpat) ; in the country of the Merians, he founded Iaroslavl on the Upper Volga. Finally, his reign was marked by a new war with Greece, brought on by mercantile disputes. His son Vladimir, leader of the expedition, rejected proudly the propositions of the Emperor Constantine Monomachus. A naval battle was fought in the Bosphorus; Greek fire and the tempests of the Black Sea dispersed the Russian armament. Part of the army, a body of 8000 men, which was retreating into Russia by land, was attacked and exterminated by a Greek force : 800 prisoners were sent to Constantinople, where their eyes were put out. Notwithstanding the bonds of religion which had been riveted between the Byzantines and their neophytes on the Dnieper, the Russians were always dreaded by Constantinople. An inscription hidden in the boot of one of the equestrian statues of Byzantium announced that the day would come when the capital of the empire would fall a prey to the men of the North. The decay of Kievian Russia after the death of Iaroslaf, adjourned or nullified the fulfilment of this prophecy.
The legislation of the Russian Charlemagne is comprised in the Code entitled Rousskaia Pravda the Russian right or verity. This Code strangely recalls that of Scandinavia. It consecrates private revenge, and the pursuit of an assassin by all the relatives of the dead ; it fixes the wergeld for different crimes, as well as the fine paid into the royal treasury ; it allows the judicial duel ; the ordeal by red--hot iron and boiling water; the oath corroborated by those of the compurgatores; it also established by the side of the judges nominated by the Prince, a jury of twelve citizens. In the "Rousskaia Pravda," there is not, properly speaking, any criminal law. Capital punishment, death by refinements of cruelty, corporal chastisement, torture to wring out confessions, even a public prison, were all unknown. These are Scandinavian and German principles in all their purity. At this period Russia had almost the same laws as the West.
Iaroslaf occupied a glorious place among the princes of his time. His sister Mary, was married to Casimir, king of Poland; his daughters also became the wives of kings : Elizabeth, of Harold the Brave, king of Norway; Anne, of Henry I., king of France ; Anastasia, of Andrew I., king of Hungary. Of his sons, Vladimir, the eldest, is said to have married Githa, daughter of Harold, king of England; Isiaslaf, a daughter of Micislas II., king of Poland ; Vseslaf, a Greek princess, daughter of Constantine Monomachus; Viatcheslaf and Igor, two German princesses. Iaroslaf gave an asylum to the proscribed princes, Saint Olaf, king of Norway, and his two sons; a prince of Sweden; Edwin and Edward, sons of Edmund Ironside, king of England, expelled from their country by Knut the Great. The Varangian dynasty was thus mingled with the families of the Christian princes, and we may say of the Russia of the XIth century, what we can no longer say of the Russia of the 16th century, that she was a European State.
To Kief was destined the lot of Anchen, the capital of Charles the Great, which, glorious in his life, after his death fell into decay. Under Iaroslaf, Kief reached the highest pinnacle of splendor. He wished to make his capital the rival of Constantinople ; like Byzantium, she had her cathedral and hex Golden Gate. The Grand Prince also founded the monastery of Saint Irene, of which only a few ruins now remain, and those of Saint George and the Catacombs, the latter made illustrious by the virtues of its first superiors, Saint Theodosius and Saint Antony. He repaired the church of the Dime, and surrounded the city with ramparts. The population began to increase, and the lower town to grow at the feet of the upper. Kief, situated on the Dnieper, the great road to Byzantium, seemed to be part of Greece. Adam of Bremen calls her aemula sceptri Constantinopolitani et clarissimum decus Graeciae. She was the rendezvous of the merchants from Holland, Hungary, Germany, and Scandinavia, who lived in separate quarters of the town. She had eight markets, and the Dnieper was constantly covered with merchant--ships. laroslaf had not enough Greek artists to decorate all the churches, nor enough priests to serve them, for Kief was at that time "the city Of 400 churches," so much admired by the writers of the West. What she was then we may partly realize by seeing what she is still at certain seasons of the year. The Monastery of the Catacombs, with the incor. ruptible bodies of its ascetics and thaumaturges, some of whom bricked themselves up while living' in the cell which was to be their sepulchre, draws annually, and especially at the Assump. tion, 50,000 pilgrims. Saint Sophia was the pride of Kief ; the mosaics of the time of Iaroslaf still exist, and the traveller may admire on the "indestructible wall " the colossal image of the Mother of God, the Last Supper, with a double apparition of Christ, presenting to six of His disciples His body, and to six others His blood, the images of Saints and Doctors, the Angel of the Annunciation of the Virgin. The frescoes which have been preserved or carefully restored are still numerous, and everywhere cover the pillars, the walls, and the vaults floored with gold. The inscriptions are not in Slavonic, but in Greek. laroslaf did not forget Novgorod, his first residence, and there he built another Saint Sophia, one of the most precious monu. ments of the Russian past. Like Charles the Great, he set up schools. Vladimir had founded one at Kief; Iaroslaf instituted that of Novgorod for 300 boys. He sent for Greek singers from Byzantium, who taught the Russian clergy. Coins were struck for him by Greek artists, with his Slavonic name in Slav on one side, and his Christian name, Ioury (George), on the other. Like all other barbarian neophytes, laroslaf pushed devotion into superstition. He caused the bones of his uncles, who had died unconverted, to be disinterred and baptized. He died in 1054., and his stone sarcophagus is one of the most precious ornaments of Saint Sophia.
VARANGIAN--RUSSIAN SOCIETY AT THE TIME OF IAROSLAF.
Varangian--Russian society presents more than one analogy with the society which was developed in Gaul after the Frank conquest. The government of the Varangian princes some. what resembled that of the Merovingian kings.
The germ of the future State lay in the droujina, the band of warriors surrounding the prince, as in Gaul it lay in the truste. The droujinniki, like the antrustions, were the faithful followers, the men of the prince. They formed his guard, and were his natural council in all affairs, public or private. He could constitute them a court of justice, nominate them individually voïevodes or governors of fortresses, or possadniks or lieutenants in the large towns. In the same way as the body surrounding the Merovingian kings was not composed so entirely of Franks, but that shortly Gallo--Romans crept into the antrustions, so the droujina of the Russian princes admitted many different elements, not only Varangian but Slav. Mstislaf, prince of Tmoutorakan, had enrolled lasses and Kassogans ; a Lithuanian Iatiague is mentioned as being in the droujina of Igor, a Hungarian in that of Boris. The military class did not form at that time a caste apart in Russia any more than in Gaul ; Saint Vladimir took into his service the son of a leather--worker who had vanquished the Patzinak giant ; his maternal uncle Dobryna was not even a free man.
The prince in the middle of his droujina seems to be only the first among his equals ; all that he had seems to belong to his men. We see them eat at the same table, and listen together to the songs of the blind poets who accompanied themselves on the gouzzla. It was as it were a family of soldiers, from which one day the Russian administration was to come. The prince had great respect for the demands of his men. Those of Vladimir complained one day that they had to eat from wooden bowls. He gave them silver ones, and added, " I could not buy myself a droujina with gold and silver; but with a droujina I can acquire gold and silver, as did my father and my grandfather." The prince did nothing without consulting his droujinniki. It was this that prevented Sviatoslaf from listening to the exhortations of Olga; he said that " his droujina would mock him " if he became a Christian.
The administration of the Varangian princes was very elementary. Let us see what the Arab writer Ibn--Dost says of the way they distributed justice : " When a Russian has a grievance with another, he summons him before the tribunal of the prince, where both present themselves. When the prince has given sentence, his orders are executed ; if both parties are displeased by the judgment, the affair must be decided by arms. He whose sword cuts sharpest gains his cause. At the moment of the combat the relations of the two adversaries appear armed, and surround the space shut off. The combatants then come to blows, and the victor may impose any conditions he pleases."
After justice, the most important of the princely functions was the collection of the tributes. The amount was fixed by the prince himself. Oleg imposed on the Drevlians a tax of a marten's skin for every house. The raising of taxes was always very arbitrary. Nestor's account of the death of Igor is a lively picture of the political customs of the time; we might imagine ourselves reading a page of Gregory of Tours about the sons of Clovis, for example the expedition of Thierry in Arvernia. "In the year 945 the droujina of Igor said to him, 'The men of Sveneld are richly provided with weapons and garments, while we go naked; lead us, prince, to collect the tribute, so that thou and we may become rich.' Igor consented, and conducted them to the Drevlians to raise the tribute. He increased the first imposts, and did them violence, he and his men ; after having taken all he wanted, he returned to his city. While on the road he bethought himself and said to his droujina. 'Go on with the tribute; I will go back to try and get some more out of them.' Leaving the greater part of his men to go on their way, he returned with only a few, to the end that he might increase his riches. The Drevlians, when they learnt that Igor was returning, held council with Mal their prince. 'When the wolf enters the sheepfold he slays the whole flock, if the shepherd does not slay him. Thus it is with us and Igor; if we do not destroy him, we are lost.' Then they sent deputies and said to him, ' Why dost thou come anew unto us? Hast thou not collected all the tribute ?' But Igor would not hear them, so the Drevlians came out of the town of Korosthenes, and slew Igor and his men, for they were but a few."
For the government and defence of the country the prince established the chief of his droujinniki in different towns, supported by adequate forces. Thus Rurik distributed the towns of his appanage; he gave to one of his men Polotsk, to another Rostof, to a third Bielozersk. A principality was in some sort divided into fiefs, but the fiefs were only temporary, and always revokable. For the defence of the frontiers new towns were built, where native soldiers kept watch.
Social conditions from the 9th to the 12th century were as unequal as in the West. The droujina of the prince, which speedily absorbed all the Slav and Finn chiefs, constituted an aristocracy. Still we must distinguish in it those who were only simple guards or gridi (girdin among the Scandinavians), the mouges or men (vir in Latin, baron in French), and the boyards who were the most illustrious of all. The freemen of the Rus. sian soil were " the people " or lioudi. The gosti or merchants were not at this period a class apart; it was in fact the warriors or the princes who pursued commerce with arms in their hands. Oleg was disguised as a merchant when he surprised Kief and slew Askold and Dir; the Byzantines mistrusted these terrible guests, and assigned them a separate quarter, closely watched, of Constantinople.
The rural population, on whom the weight of the growing State was beginning to rest, was already less free than in primitive times. The peasant was called smerde (perhaps derived from smerdiet, to stink), or mougik, insulting diminutive of mouge, man. Later he became the Christian par excellence, krestianine.
Below the peasant, whose situation recalls that of the Roman colonus, were the slaves properly so called, rabi or kholopy. The slave might have been taken in war, bought in a market, born in the house of his master, or have lost his liberty by the mere fact of fulfilling certain offices, such as that of house--steward. War was, however, the principal source of slavery. Ibn--Dost relates that the Russians, when they marched against another people, did not depart without having destroyed everything; they carried off the women, and reduced the men to slavery. They maintained a great slave--trade with foreign nations. " From Russia " said Sviatoslaf, the conqueror of Bulgaria, " will be brought skins, wax, honey, and slaves."
PROGRESS OF CHRISTIANITY--SOCIAL, POLITICAL, LITERARY, AND ARTISTIC RESULTS.
Russia had become Christian : it is the chief event in her primitive history. An important fact is that her Christianity was received not from Rome, like that of the Poles and other Western Slavs, but from Constantinople. Although the separation between the Churches of the East and West was not yet fully consummated, it was evident that Russia would be engaged in what the Latins called 69 the schism." It is usually considered in the West that this fact exercised an evil influence on Russia. Now let us see the opinion of a Russian historian, M. Bestoujef-- Rioumine, on the subject. "What is no less important is that Christianity came to us from Byzantium, where the Church put forth no pretensions of governing the State' a circumstance which preserved us from struggles between the secular, a national, and the spiritual, a foreign power. Excluded from the religious unity of the Romano--Germanic world, we have perhaps gained more than we have lost. The Roman Church made her appearance with German missionaries in Slavonic lands; and if she did not everywhere bring with her material servitude, she at least introduced an intellectual slavery by forcing men to support foreign interests, by bringing among them foreign elements, and by establishing in all parts a sharp division between the higher classes who wrote and spoke in Latin, and the lower classes who spoke the national tongue and were without literature."
No doubt an ecclesiastical language which, thanks to Cyril and Methodius, mingled with the national language, and became intelligible to all classes of society; a purely national Church, which was subject to no foreign sway; the absolute independence of the civil power and of national development, were the inestimable advantages that Byzantine Christianity brought into Russia. But if the Russian State was free from all obligations to Rome, she had nothing to hope for from her. She could not reckon in her days of peril on the help that Spain received when she grappled with the Moors; Germany in her crusades against the Slavs and Finns ; Hungary in her national war with the Turks. Separated from the West by difference of faith, Russia in the time of the Mongols, like Greece at the epoch of the Ottoman invasion, saw no Europe arming in her defence.
Her princes were neither laid under the pontifical interdicts, like Robert of France, nor reduced to implore pardon at the feet of a Gregory VII., like Henry IV. of Germany; humiliations always followed by a swift revenge, as on the day when Barbarossa expelled Alexander III. from Italy, and Philip the Hand. some caused Boniface to be arrested in Anagni. Humiliations still more cruel awaited the Russians at the court of the Mongols. Another misfortune attending the entrance of the Russians into the Greek Church is, that they found themselves separated by religion from the races to whom they were bound by a common origin, and who spoke almost their own tongue. It was the difference of religion which inflamed their long rivalry with the Poles, and which at present deprives them of much influence over part of the Slavs. This same difference of religion delayed for them the benefits of civilization resulting from the Renaissance of the West, but it spared them the terrible crisis of the wars of the Reformation.
Oriental Christianity, with the Byzantine civilization that was inseparable from it, produced in time a considerable transformation in Russia. The first effect of Christianity was to reform society, and draw closer family ties. It condemned polygamy, and forbade equal divisions between the children of a slave and those of the lawful wife. Society resisted this new principle for some time. Saint Vladimir, even after his conversion, divided his possessions equally among the children the Church regarded as natural and those she considered legitimate. In the long run Christianity prevailed, and by the abolition of polygamy the Russian family ceased to be Asiatic, and became European. Christianity prescribed new virtues, and gave the ancient barbaric virtues of hospitality and benevolence a more elevated character.
Vladimir Monomachus charged his children to receive strangers hospitably, because, says he, they have it in their power to give you a good or evil reputation. The hospitality of primitive peoples may often be explained by their need of merchants and foreigners. Pagan Slavs were only obliged to help those of the same association ; warriors, the members of the same droujina; peasants, those of the same commune; merchants or artisans, those of the same artel. Christianity enjoined benevolence to all the world, without hope of reward in this life. It rendered honorable, weakness, poverty, manual labor. If it prescribed excessive humility, it was useful at least as a reaction against the brutality of overweening pride. Between these two societies, aristocratic and religious, which rest on opposite and equally exaggerated principles, there would one day be room for lay and civil society.
The influence of Christian principles was rather slow among these excitable and ardent natures, but at last we see in Russia, as in the West, princes abjure their pride and seek the peace of the cloister, like the good King Robert, or Saint Henry. In the end it became an established custom with the Russian sovereigns that, on the approach of death, they should be tonsured, change their worldly for a monkish name, and so die in the garb of one of the religious orders.
From a political point of view, the influence of Byzantine Christianity was bound in the long run to cause a complete revolution. For what was a Russian prince, after all, but the head of a band, surrounded by the men of his droujina, and in a sense a foreigner to the land he governed and on which he levied tribute? Properly speaking, a Russian prince had no subjects. The natives might always expel him--his droujinniki were always free to forsake him. The princes of Kief were no more sovereigns in the modern or Roman sense of the term, than Merwig or Clodowig the longhaired. But the priests who came from Constantinople brought with them an ideal of government; in a little while it was that of the Russians who entered the ranks of the clergy. This Greek ideal was the Emperor, the Tzar of Constantinople, heir of Augustus and Constantine the Great, Vicar of God upon earth, the typical monarch on whom the eyes of the barbarians of Gaul as well as those of Scythia were fixed. He was a sovereign in the fullest sense of the word, as, by a legal fiction, the people by the Lex Regia was supposed to have yielded its power to the imperator. He had subjects, and subjects only. Alone he made the law; he was the law. He had neither droujinniki nor antrustions that he placed in such and such a town, but an host of movable functionaries, the inviolate Rom---- hierarchy, by means of whom his all--powerful will penetrated to the remotest parts of his dominions. He was not the leader of a band of exacting soldiers, free to quit his service for that of another, but master of a standing army, to guard both frontiers and capital. He did not consider his states as a patrimony to be divided between his children, but transmitted to his successor the Roman Empire in its integrity. He inherited his power, not only from his people, but from God. His imperial ornaments had, like his person, a sacred character : and whenever the barbarian kings demanded one of them at Constantinople, whether it was a crown enriched with precious stones, the purple mantle, the sceptre or the brodequins (leggings), they were answered, that when God gave the Empire to Constantinople, He sent these vestments by a holy angel ; that they were not the work of man, and that they were laid on the altar, and only worn, even by the Emperor, on solemn occasions. Leo the Khazar was said to have been smitten with a fatal ulcer for having put on the crown without permission of the patriarch.
An empire one and indivisible, resting on a standing army, a hierarchy of functionaries, a national clergy, and a body of jurisconsults, -- such was the Roman Empire, and such it revived in the monarchies of the '7th century. This was the conception of the State, unknown to both Slavs and Varangians, that the Greek priests brought to Russia. For a long while the reality answered little to the ideal; the princes continued in their wills to divide their soldiers and their lands among their children; but the idea did not perish, and if it was never realized in Kievian Russia, it found a more propitious soil in Muscovite Russia. Legislation likewise felt the influence of Christianity. Theft, murder, and assassination were not looked upon by the Church as private offences for which the aggrieved persons could take reprisals or accept a wergeld. They were crimes to be punished by human justice in the name of God.
For private revenge Byzantine influence substituted a public penalty ; for the fine it substituted corporal punishment, repugnant to the free barbarian, and to the instinctive sentiment of human dignity. Imprisonment, convict labor, flogging, torture, mutilation, death itself, inflicted by more or less cruel means such was the penal code of the Byzantines.
The Greek bishops of the time of St. Vladimir had wished that brigands should be put to death, but the custom was, and long remained, against it. Vladimir, after having employed this supreme means of repression, returned to the system of the wergeld, which besides helped to fill the treasury. The Byzantine mode of procedure likewise rejected the judicial duel, the judgment of God and the compurgatores long defended by habit. But, as in Gaul Roman law existed for Church officers and part of the natives, side by side with the Frank or Burgundian law, so in Russia the Byzantine codes of Justinian and Basil the Macedonian, were established at the side of the Scandinavian code of Iaroslaf.
During many centuries the two systems of legislation existed together, each being slightly influenced by the other, to the time when they were mingled in a new code, the Oulojenie of Ivan the Great, and the Soudebnik of Ivan the Terrible.
The Byzantine literature which found its way into Russia consisted not only of the sacred books, but also of the Fathers of the Church, among whom we may reckon some writers of the first order, like Saint Basil and Saint John Chrysostom ; lives of the saints, the inexhaustible source of new poetry; chronicles destined to serve as models to the Russian annalists ; philosophical and scientific books ; even romances such as 'Barlaam and Josaphat,' ' Salomon and Kitovras,' etc. Though this literature was partly the fruit of Byzantine decay, we may perceive how it implanted fresh ideas in the mind of a young nation, and would largely influence the moral life of the individual, and public and family life. We shall see up to what point Russian society of the Middle Ages was modelled on the examples afforded by this literature. Finally, it must not be forgotten that Christianity brought music in its train to a people whose music was highly primitive, and architecture to a people who had absolutely none. It was she who, to use a Western expression, illuminated the Russian cities with magnificent churches, and her golden cupolas towered above the ramparts of mud that begirt the cities.