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Russian Culture of the 14th -15th Centuries
May 27, 2014 18:58


The second half of the 14th century marked a new uplift in Russian culture. Russian princes being weakened after many years of the Tatar Mongol yoke and feudal disunity at last started joining forces, which resulted in consolidation of the statehood and gave rise to cultural development.

Aftermath of the Tatar Mongol Yoke on the Russian culture:
• Wooden architecture was largely lost, whereas development of stone architecture was stopped;
• Numerous crafts ceased to exist;
• Lots of technologies in various spheres of culture and life were lost;
• Chronicle writing, painting, applied arts and literature fell into decay.

However, despite the invasion, the Russian culture withstood the obtrusion of the Tatar manners and maintained its originality.

Cultural Centers

Feudal disunity and Mongol invasions led to withering of small cultural centers; however, an increasing number of handicraftsmen and other masters found haven in large principalities. So, the lands of Novgorod and Pskov, which managed to harbor the ancient heritage of Kievan Rus' became the centers of cultural revival.

Large principalities had enormous power that made it possible to put up increasing resistance to Mongolian aggressors. So, intensification of the struggle was accompanied with creation of culture monuments, which expressed that struggle. Besides, the plan of lands merger also promoted development of arts and crafts.

The idea of the unity of Russia and struggle against aggressors became the central subject matter in the culture of that period.

Moscow became the most important centre of active fight against aggressors started in the 2nd half of the 14th century. Unification of princes around Moscow had a collateral effect of the city becoming the cultural center as well.

Architecture

Stone architecture, its development intermitted for the period of Mongol invasion, was gradually revived. Active construction of churches was launched. The first town to venture on restoration after the Tatar Mongol Yoke was Tver, where the Transfiguration of Saviour Church was built. Tver was followed by other towns that started reviving too.
By the beginning of reign of Ivan III there was not a single really magnificent building. Even Pskov with its 60 stone churches at that time looked more impressive. Ivan III started intense building in Moscow. He invited Italian architects and Russian masters. Relying on the traditions of Russian urban development, Old Russian architecture and the Renaissance traits they jointly created the Assumption Cathedral, which is an architectural masterpiece of the epoch and the oldest intact building in Moscow.
In 1485-1495 the Moscow Kremlin was reconstructed, with stone walls built. The Annunciation Cathedral and the Archangel Cathedral, Belfry of Ivan the Terrible and the Faceted Chamber came to be. The architects Barma and Postnik completed construction of the world famous St. Basil Cathedral in the Red Square.



Painting

The revival of church building was naturally accompanied with brisk growth of painting activities, frescos being a part and parcel of them. Russian icon-painting school took birth and gave rise to the great masters, including Theophanes the Greek and his genius student Andrei Rublev. They created numerous frescos and icons of the most glorified cathedrals of Russia.
The art of the Byzantine icon-painter Theophanes the Greek was very expressive and emotional. He worked in Novgorod, created frescos in the Transfiguraiton of Saviour Cathedral, and then painted the Annunciation Cathedral in Moscow in 1405.
The monk Andrei Rublev from the St. Sergius Trinity Monastery conveyed the basic ideas of Russian Orthodox Christianity, in particular inner contemplation and peace. Jointly with Daniil Chorny he painted the now monumental Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir. Rublev’s most famous work, the Trinity icon created for the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world renowned masterpiece of iconography.

Literature and Writing

The drive for unification and victory over aggressors prompted active development of literature and writing. Various documents, records and annals narrating the stages of struggle against the Mongolian invaders came to be written in lots of principalities. Numerous books about campaigns, marches, battles, as well as chronicles of events appeared one after another.
The travelogue genre became especially popular. One of the most striking examples of this genre was the groundbreaking book Journey over Three Seas by the merchant Afanasy Nikitin telling about his travels in India.
By the end of the 15th century Russian culture was on an unprecedented upgrade, with all the spheres of art being actively developed and great cultural monuments created. The culture of Russia finally recovered from the Tatar Mongol Yoke and embarked on the path to free development and self-determination.

 




Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: History of Russian Culture Russian History Cultural Monuments   

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