Byzantium and the rise of Russia

Byzantium and the rise of Russia - John Meyendorff



"...Kievan Russia. As Patriarch Anthony wrote to Grand Prince Basil of Moscow in 1397, "it is not possible for Christians to have the Church and not to have the empire . . it is not possible for them to be separated from one another" It is therefore not astonishing to find in a text of Patriarch Photius a reference to the Russians as "subjects" of the Empire. Even in Muslim accounts, one finds the idea that the emperor of Constantinople is the sovereign of many nations including Macedonians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Vlakhs, Alans, Russians, Iberians, (=Georgians) and Turks (=Hungarians).

These texts were sometimes interpreted in the context of Western political ideas, such as suzerainty and vassaldom, or simply disregarded as obviously irrelevant to a concept of history where political reality is seen only in terms of nation-states. In neither case docs one really do justice to the idea of the Byzantine "Commonwealth" of which the emperor was the recognized head and whose existence the Slavic Orthodox nations never challenged, even if occasionally Bulgarians and Serbs attempted to assume its leadership themselves..."

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