Academic journal article Comparative Civilizations Review

Evidence for Belarusian-Ukrainian Eastern Slavic Civilization

Academic journal article Comparative Civilizations Review

Evidence for Belarusian-Ukrainian Eastern Slavic Civilization

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

This article argues for the existence of a distinct Eastern European Slavic civilization on the territories of modern Belarus and Ukraine. One group of Slavs migrated to Eastern Europe from the fifth century to the ninth century and then, for various reasons, separated and formed two civilizations - an Eastern Slavic civilization (Belarusian-Ukrainian) and a Eurasian civilization.

The critical factors for this division were the Mongol-Tatar invasion and the emergence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Principality, which saved Eastern Slavs from "Eurasian influence." Belarus and Ukraine share a number of characteristic Western features.

Today it is obvious that including Belarus and Ukraine in the Orthodox, Eastern or Eurasian/Russian civilization must be revisited. Including the two civilizations as one has resulted from the prevalence of created myths and misinterpretations of history, such as the asserted threefold nature of East Slavic people (Great Russians, Little Russians and White Russians); on the claimed Slavic nature of the Russian Empire; on a supposed historical continuity between Kievan Rus' and modern Russia; and on Muscovy's role in uniting the Eastern Slavs.

Introduction: Was Rurik in Polotsk - or who wrote our history for us?

Kievan Rus' emerged at the end of the ninth century on the territory occupied by the Eastern Slavs. The term Kievan Rus' is used by many investigators, both in scholarly and in popular literature, to refer to the ancient land around Kiev that is today part of Ukraine and, to some extent, Belarus (Zacharii, 2002; Plochy, 2006). Modern Russia emerged out of the area known as Muscovy (the territories around Suzdal, Murom, and Rostov).

The change in meaning of Russia-Rus' began in the early eighteenth century, especially during the reign of Empress Catherine II (1762-1796). She ordered a history of Russia to be written that included the Normanist theory of the origin of Rus' and Tatishchev's (1686-1750) and Karamzin's (1766-1826) histories of Russia. In fact, all these works, as well as some later ones (Solovyov, 1820-1879), were used to justify the de facto annexation of the Polish Republic and the 'reunification' of the Eastern Slavs (Great Russians, Little Russians, and White Russians), confirmation of both the Slavic nature of the Russian Empire, and the legitimacy of historical continuity from Kievan Rus' to modern Russia.

For a long time, the history of the Russian state was official in Belarus and Ukraine. Karamzin's and Solovyov's histories of Russia were based on the Normanist theory, developed by G. F. Mueller (1705-1783), who worked at the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to the Normanist theory, a major role in the creation of Kievan Rus' [not Russia - PM] was assigned to Scandinavians, Germans and Varangians (Vikings), and these alien peoples were called "Rus'". The territory of Rus' has often been known in the West as "Ruthenia."

This theoretical formulation was familiar to people of the region since the end of the Russian Empire, although Soviet historians were anti-Normanists. There is a political bias to the topic. Obviously, it was necessary to maintain the Slavic unity of the three nations that had formed the basis of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, supported unconditionally in both cases by the Orthodox Church. During the reign of Catherine II, it was needed to prove the leadership of Scandinavians and Germans in governing the Slavs; in the Soviet era, between the two world wars, it was necessary to keep the unity of the Slavic spirit. No wonder that the Second World War saw the release of the film on Alexander Nevsky who defeated the Teutonic Knights (Germans) on Lake Peipus.

Mikhail Lomonosov did not accept a history of Russia written by German scholars and he accused Mueller of falsification. Lomonosov believed that the Rus' hailed from Slavic lands and they were not Varangians (Bielawski, 1955). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.