Previous: Russian Culture in the 12th – 13th Centuries, Part 1
Along with sorcerers and healers there appeared doctors. In Kiev, for example, there lived the well-known doctor Agapit, who knew “potions to heal this or that illness”. Improved knowledge in the field of mathematics turned to be of practical use in agriculture and calculating taxes and chronology in historical annals. Development of historical knowledge had a great impact on chronicles. There were historical chronicles and annalistic books (complete historical works of processed annalistic records) written in all the large cities, from Novgorod to Ryazan. Only chronicles of Vladimir and Suzdal, Volynsk and Novgorod have partially remained till date. Most of them are pervaided with the spirit of mighty princely power. Close connections of chroniclers with work of princely offices resulted in including diplomatic, administrative, and military documents into annalistic books.
In Russia as well as in other countries, there was interconnection between handicraft, applied folk arts and architecture. So long as religious ideology dominated in the society, the best samples of architecture were related with the church, which was also a very rich customer. Transition to feudal dissociation was reflected in reduced size of churches, simplified interior and gradual replacement of mosaics with fresco painting. “Cubic” church with a massive dome became the prevailing type of church architecture. These changes were also related to fast development of stone architecture.
White stone carving on the southern wall of St. Demetrius Cathedral in Vladimir-on-Klyazma. 1194.
Churches and monasteries went on to be built in Kiev lands (Church of Saviour on Berestov, St. Cyril Church), but Kiev’s continuous changing hands from one prince to another created adverse conditions for development of art there. A number of outstanding art works were created in the Vladimir-and-Suzdal land, in particular in Vladimir-on-Klyazma with its Golden Gate, white stone architecture and stone carving. It still keeps magnificent old churches: the Assumption Cathedral, the world architecture masterpiece of St. Demetrius Cathedral with stone carved reliefs, the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River with decorative sculptures and the Bogolyubov princely palace including a cathedral.
Construction was carried out in Rostov, Suzdal, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities of Northeastern Russia. St. George Cathedral (the 1730s) with its stone carved antechurch in Yuryev-Polsk is a good example.
Large princely cathedrals gave way to smaller and simpler churches with more exquisite shapes and paintings in Novgorod lands of the seigniorial republic era. The world famous Church of the Saviour at Nereditsa (the late 12th century) stood out among them in Novgorod. Pskov Church of Saviour in Mirozh (the mid 12th century) painted with frescos is of great interest as an art monument.
Author: Vera Ivanova