Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Value of Foreign Written Sources in Research of the Russian-Horde Political and Legal Communications in the XIII-XV Centuries

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Value of Foreign Written Sources in Research of the Russian-Horde Political and Legal Communications in the XIII-XV Centuries

Article excerpt

Abstract

There are five main positions in assessment of consequences of the middle-aged Russian-Horde communications. Objective research of the Russian-Horde relations has to include the analysis of all set of communications and a right choice of system of sources. The authors consider significance of foreign sources for researches of the Russian-Horde communication, their objectiveness and informative value. These are four types of sources: chronicles; literary works of medieval authors; stories of travellers; historical maps. These types include European, Persian, Arab, Mongolian and Chinese sources. Having analysed the content of many certain sources in relation to the Russian-Horde communications, the authors assess them as sources for research of the Russian-Horde communications.

Keywords: Medieval Russia, Golden Horde, historical sources, chronicles, epos, reports of medieval travellers, medieval maps

1. Introduction

The political history of Russia in the XIII-XV centuries was defined by the relations between Russia and the Horde. Assessment of these relationship and their consequences for Russia is one of the most debatable subjects. Different authors assess them in plenty of works differently, sometimes opposite. They are assessed as equal allied interstate communications (Gumilev, 1989); as equal allied intrastate communications when Russian lands were a part of the Horde (Vernadsky, 1966; Trubetskoi, 1991; Hara-Davan, 2003); as subordinated for Russia and very pernicious for its population and historical development (Nasonov, 1940; Kargalov, 1967; Grekov, 1950); as subordinated and pernicious for Russia in its sense, but in historical prospect they helped Russia to mobilize, strengthen a power of vertical and to become stronger (Karamzin, 1993; Kostomarov, 1863); as not having any significant impact on historical destiny of Russia (Klyuchevsky, 1987; Solovyov, 1988; Fennell & Illingworth, 1983). In addition to the above, the Russian-Horde relations assessment matters not only for historical science but also modern policy. Professor of Harvard University Richard Pipes writes: "If Mongols have not affected Russia or if this influence has not concerned the political sphere, Russian commitment to the autocratic power in the most extreme, patrimonial form should be recognized as something congenital and eternal. In that case it is rooted in Russian souls, religion or any other source that cannot be changed. But if Russia, on the contrary, has borrowed the political system from overseas aggressors, there is the chance of internal changes because the Mongolian influence can be substituted with the Western one" (Pipes, 1952); and "...perception of Russia as a direct successor of the empire of Mongols or even as the country which has endured their strong influence, allows to prove legitimacy of the Russian power in the huge territory from Baltic and the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean and over many people occupying it" (Pipes, 1952).

Nevertheless, authors, making inconsistent assessments, often use the same sources, selecting events and facts according to their position. For example, defending the theory of the union of Russia and the Horde they dissemble numerous campaigns of the Horde armies to Russia. Besides, mistakes can arise in sources. Sources have to be mutually supplemented and checked by independent parties, better by foreign ones.

In this article the authors consider significance of foreign sources for researches of the Russian-Horde communication, their comparative objectiveness and informative value.

2. Material and Research Methodology

Foreign sources are divided into four types according to their origin: chronicles; literary works of medieval authors; stories of travellers; historical maps. They are analysed separately. These types include European, Persian, Arab, Mongolian and Chinese sources and in every type their analysis is separated. The article has the analysis of the information volume in considered sources in the context of their comparative usefulness for research and assessment of the Russian-Horde relations. …

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