Discuss the changes and continuities of Russia from the 9th to the 18th century.

Essay by DyloniumHigh School, 12th gradeA, February 2007

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In 855, the civilization of Kievan Rus' developed, encompassing a small portion of modern day Russia. Around 1220, the Mongols arrived in Russia where they significantly influenced the Russian culture. In 1762, Catherine the Great became empress where she patronized Western culture. From the civilization of Kievan Rus' to the Russian Empire of Catherine the Great, Russia's contacts with the west, political structure, and territorial boundaries had significantly changed.

Contact with the with the west was cut off with the Mongol arrival, yet by the rule of Catherine the Great, contacts with the west had been reestablished. With the religious schism occurring in the Byzantine Empire, Roman Catholic and Orthodox missionaries attempted to convert the Russian population. Cyril and Methodius, two important Orthodox missionaries, successfully converted many Russians around 864 and developed the Cryllic alphabet which was incorporated into Russian literature. With the arrival of the Mongols or Tatars, Russia contacts with the west were cut off, causing Russia to miss numerous key transformations in Europe, such as the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation.

Therefore, Russia's politics, economy, and intellectual developments began to lag behind that of Europe. With the installment of Catherine the Great as empress in 1762, a process of "westernization" had already begun. Throughout this process, Catherine took great interest in western art and architecture, constructing the city of St. Petersburg using popular western styles. The Russian nobility also sent their children to Europe to be educated. The contacts with the west throughout the civilization of Kievan Rus' were significant and most likely due to the religious evangelism of the Christian missionaries. Competing with the Roman Catholic missionaries to gain converts, the Orthodox missionaries increased their activity as well. With the Mongol arrival, contacts with the west diminished partially because the Mongols tribute payments placed a burden...