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The thorny path of the introduction of Christianity to Russia
The thorny path of the introduction of Christianity to Russia

The year 988 became a conditional boundary that divided the history of Ancient Rus into "before" and "after". In the 11th century, paganism tried to regain lost ground.

“Volodimer is an ambassador to the whole city, saying:“If someone doesn’t get dressed up in the morning on the river, whether rich, poor, or poor, or a worker, let him be disgusting.” Behold, hearing the people, I walk with joy, rejoicing and saying: “If it weren’t good, the prince and the boyars didn’t accept this…” - this is how the author of The Tale of Bygone Years described the baptism of the Kievites.

In a single impulse, the inhabitants of the capital, following the example of their benefactor, the prince, stepped into the waters of the Dnieper and abandoned their pagan past. However, the reality turned out to be not as rosy as the chronicler stated in his essay. Before completely conquering the minds of the inhabitants of the state, Christianity had to fight the paganism that was still afloat.

Christianity before baptism: the first attempts of princes to baptize Russia

The first Christians ended up in Slavic settlements and trading posts already in the 9th century, and possibly even earlier - in any case, the archaeological finds of characteristic ritual artifacts in Staraya Ladoga, where the semi-legendary Rurik will arrive, date back to this century.

Fossil data correlate well with the reports of written sources, according to which some "Rus" adopted Christianity in the middle - second half of the 9th century: these events are often associated with the reign of Askold and Dir in Kiev.

Engraving by F. Bruni "Death of Askold and Dir"

By the 10th century, a large number of Christians lived in Kiev and Novgorod, the largest cities of the united state created by the Prophet Oleg. This is also confirmed by the results of archaeological excavations. Important changes in the confessional composition of the population of Ancient Rus coincide with the key political event of that period - the adoption of Christianity by Princess Olga, the widow of Igor Rurikovich, who was killed by the Drevlyans.

Baptism of Princess Olga

Already at this time, serious problems associated with Christianity were outlined. In 959, the German bishop Adalbert of Magdeburg was sent to Russia - this visit was the result of meeting the request of Princess Olga, addressed to the German Emperor Otto I, regarding assistance in the spread of Christianity in the Russian lands. However, the mission of the clerics was not crowned with success. After some time, the bishop returned to his homeland, and some of his companions were killed by pagans - it is believed that not without the participation of Olga's son, Svyatoslav.

New attempts to establish contacts with religious leaders of the West were recorded during the short-term reign of Yaropolk Svyatoslavich, brother of the future Baptist of Rus. In 979, he turned to the Pope with a request to send clerics to Kiev to preach, which managed to turn against himself not only the pagan circles of the capital, but also the Christians living in the city, who gravitated towards the Eastern practices of the confession of faith. This short-sighted step largely predetermined the defeat of Yaropolk in the fight against Vladimir.

<img alt = "Yaropolk Svyatoslavich surrounded by squads."src =" style = "height: 591px; width: 600px" title = "Yaropolk Svyatoslavich" />

Vladimir Svyatoslavich and the baptism of Rus

At first, Vladimir Yaroslavich, who won the internecine war, did not plan to spread Christianity in Russia - baptism was preceded by an attempt to unify pagan cults in the lands controlled by Kiev. Perun was declared the supreme god, pagan temples were erected. But the reform did not achieve the desired result: the unification of the lands was hampered by the variety of cults, not all of which recognized the supremacy of Perun. It was then that Vladimir thought about converting to one of the monotheistic religions.

In the chronicles, these reflections "/>

The first major demonstration took place in Suzdal in 1024, when the region was struck by a terrible crop failure and drought: there was not enough food, and ordinary people tried to find the culprits of bad weather. The Magi were next to them in time: they blamed the tribal nobility for all the troubles. According to pagan traditions, the perpetrators were sacrificed to appease the gods. The rebels did the same, at the same time putting to death the elderly people in order to "renew" the earth. Yaroslav the Wise did not react in any way to the speech of the inhabitants of Suzdal - the uprising died out by itself.

The most famous pagan demonstrations took place 50 years after the events in Suzdal. In 1071, the people of Rostov and Novgorod rebelled, and the riot happened for exactly the same reasons as in Suzdal - drought, crop failure and distrust of noble people who, it seemed, were hiding food supplies. In both cases, the speeches were led by the wise men who came out of the underground. This suggests that the pagan faith was still deeply seated among the people, because after the baptism of Russia, a little less than a hundred years have passed.

In Novgorod, according to the "Tale of Bygone Years", in 1071 an unnamed sorcerer appeared on the streets of the city, who began agitating the local population against the local bishop. The chronicler reports that only Prince Gleb and his retinue remained on the side of the Christian cleric - 80 years after the baptism of the city of Dobrynya, the overwhelming majority of the townspeople sympathized or at least sympathized with pagan cults.

In Novgorod, street battles almost began, but the prince quickly stopped a possible performance, simply killing the sorcerer. Interestingly, after the death of the leader, the disaffected simply went home.

<img alt = "Andrei Ryabushkin. Prince Gleb Svyatoslavovich kills the sorcerer at the Novgorod veche. 1898."src =" style = "height: 336px; width: 600px" title = "Andrey Ryabushkin" />

In Rostov, also against the backdrop of poor harvests, in 1071 two wise men from Yaroslavl appeared and began to stigmatize Christian clergy and local nobility - they say, they are to blame for all the troubles that befell ordinary people. Gathering a number of companions, the pagans began to ravage the surrounding churchyards, pointing in a special way at noble women, accusing them of hiding food. Soon the rioters reached Beloozero, where was Jan Vyshatich, the governor of Prince Svyatoslav Yaroslavich. The rebels and Jan's detachment clashed near the city, but the battle ended in nothing.

Then the governor turned to the residents of Beloozero and demanded that they deal with the Magi on their own while his detachment was collecting tribute. The townspeople soon complied with the request of the princely envoy, the pagan priests were caught, interrogated, and then handed over to the relatives of the murdered women.

<img alt = "Sergei Ivanov. Jan Vyshatich and pagans. 1912."src =" style = "height: 469px; width: 600px" title = "Sergey Ivanov" />

The Suzdal, Novgorod and Rostov events were the largest uprisings of the 11th century. However, chroniclers also reported about a surge in robbery on the roads: "dashing people" became a headache for princes at the turn of the 10-11 centuries. Apparently, religious changes, coupled with constant civil strife, have become one of the reasons for the deterioration of the situation in the country. The baptism of Rus divided the society for many decades.

Christianity in the 10-11 centuries was able to gain a foothold in the large cities of Ancient Russia, which nevertheless did not prevent local residents from periodically rebelling under the leadership of pagan priests. In rural areas and regions remote from trade routes, the situation was even more complicated. It can be reconstructed using data obtained from archaeological excavations. The artifacts found in the burials make it possible to assert that a dual faith reigned among the majority of the population: Christian rituals and relics coexisted with pagan ones.

An echo of this phenomenon can be observed to this day: people celebrate Maslenitsa, celebrate carols, jump over the fire on the day of Ivan Kupala. “Holy Russia” was never able to completely rid itself of the pagan past.

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