“In human ignorance, it’s very comforting to consider everything as nonsense that you don’t know.”
DI. Fonvizin. Undergrowth
DI. Fonvizin. Undergrowth
Science vs. Pseudoscience. How often do we meet with our media cliched accusations against foreign countries of distorting our stories! But who do they come from? From journalists who for the most part do not know foreign languages and have never read books on them. The philistine opinion is this: if a journalist writes, then he knows. And he, this very journalist, in many cases simply rewrites material from another! “The tailor studied with another, the other with the third, and the first one the tailor studied with?” - "Yes, the first tailor, maybe sewn worse than mine." The dialogue from Fonvizin’s “Undergrowth” clearly shows how this happens.
But even those journalists who know foreign languages well are abroad and have direct communication, as a rule, they are reporters. That is, they make a “report”, a report on events - about who and what said, where and what happened. Physically, they have no time to read historical monographs or magazines, and they are not paid for that. They pay, for example, for "there was a threat." Any: military, economic, informational ... After all, when there is a “threat”, then the need for a centralized, or even just personal leadership, increases. This is an axiom of public administration. And the external threat allows you to perfectly blame it on all the internal troubles and shortcomings. “Why do we lack food in the USSR and have the Food Program been adopted?” “But because Star Wars!” And that’s all! Everyman is satisfied. He received a simple and accessible answer to his consciousness and intellect. A magazine "Aviation and astronautics ”he does not read, and he will never know about everything that is written there.
The Internet has appeared, the ability to receive information from people has increased. But the problem of time and language remained. The vast majority of VO visitors know a foreign language at the level of “I read and translate with a dictionary” (moreover, a dictionary of the Soviet era). Therefore, they are unlikely to start their day by reading the editorials of the Washington Post, The Times or People's Daily (the latter, however, is ridiculous to recall). But again, one thing is what politicians say there, and quite another thing that historians write and what students then read in colleges and universities. And the fact that many citizens do not read them is also understandable. However, the availability of books already makes it possible to distinguish between science and politics, which are "different things." So for those who accuse the "treacherous abroad" of distorting the historical truth, it would be decent to always rely on facts and write: such-and-such a newspaper wrote such-and-such from such-and-such a number, and it is not true; in the book of such and such an author, such and such a publishing house, on such and such page it is written ... and this is a distortion of facts, politicians such and such, speaking there and there ... said the following, and this is a complete lie. Then it will be really valuable counter-propaganda, and not a cheap idle talk, not worthy of “VO”, but perhaps the most banal yellow press.
Well, since we have recently been engaged in the source study of our Russian history, then let's see what "there" is written about our ancient times.
Note that the most accessible literature in the West on historical subjects are the books of the Osprey publishing house. First of all, they are cheap, colorful (which is always attractive!), Written in a simple, understandable language. In England, they are used as a teaching tool at the Sandhurst Military Academy, as well as at universities and colleges, and in addition, they are read by the whole world, since they are published not only in English, but also in many other languages. So Opprey books are truly international publications. In 1999, as part of the Man at arms series, No. 333 was published by Professor David Nicolas’s book “Armies of medieval Russia 750-1250”, with a dedication to our historian M. Gorelik, without which she would “not see the light”. So let's read it, find out what version of Russian history it offers to foreign readers. In order to avoid any accusations of fraud, part of the text from it was laid out in the form of pictures, well, and the translation was then given as it should, in some cases with the author’s comments. So, we read ...
3rd page from the book of D. Nicolas, and here is such a text there. But I won’t torment anyone with the English language, but the understandable Russian translation will go to everyone, and in fact it’s literal, only with separate purely stylistic corrections
Russia to Russia
MEDIEVAL STATES OF RUSSIA arose in the forest and forest-steppe regions of modern Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, while competing nomadic states of the south existed in the steppe. However, they did have cities, and these were the so-called “nomadic states,” which were highly developed throughout most of the Middle Ages. The whole region was crossed by rivers, and most of the settlements were on their banks. Rivers were the best traffic arteries in the summer, when they sailed on them in boats and in the winter, when they were used as frozen highways; and it is not surprising that they were also used as transport arteries in the war. They effectively connected Scandinavia and Western Europe with the Byzantine Empire and the world of Islam. Trade brought wealth, and wealth attracted predators, both internal and external. In fact, raids, piracy and robbery remained the main feature of medieval Russian history.
The steppe occupied a prominent place in Russian military history. It was an arena not only for heroic deeds, but also for a military catastrophe. Unlike the steppe, their lands were covered with forests and swamps, and also separated by rivers. Nomadic peoples lived here, although they were not more warlike than their settled neighbors, they possessed great military potential and were more used to tribal discipline than the inhabitants of the forest. In the early Middle Ages, the Slavs were relative newcomers who continued to develop new territories even when medieval Russia was already created.
Further to the north, nomadic hunter peoples inhabited the Arctic tundra, who did not seem to have their own military aristocracy. On the other hand, many Finnish or Ugric tribes of the subarctic taiga and northern forests clearly had a military elite. These tribes included Votyaks, Vod, Ests, Chud and Komi or Zyryans. The eastern Finno-Ugric population had a more developed culture and weapons compared to them, as well as massive strongholds made of land and wood (see Attila and the Nomad Hordes, series No. 30 Elite, Osprey). Among them were Meria, Murom, Teryuhane, Karate, Mari and Mordvinians. Some were assimilated and disappeared during the 11th and 12th centuries, but others retain their identity to this day.
The Udmurts, or Votyaks, separated from the Zyryans in the 8th century, which were crowded out by competing tribes east to their habitats along the headwaters of the Vyatka and Kama rivers. The lands of the Khanty or Mansi taiga regions in the extreme northeast of the European part of Russia were included in the rapidly growing Russian state (“Novgorod Land”) at the end of the 12th century. Beyond the Urals, other Ugric tribes lived, which seemed so terrifying that the Russians believed that they were locked behind the copper gates until Judgment Day.
Since for some reason many readers of VO are very offended by the annalistic text about the “calling of the Varangians”, let's see how this event is described in the book by D. Nicolas.
According to legend, a representative of the Scandinavian nobility named Rurik was invited to Novgorod land in 862. Some scholars have identified him as Rorik of Jutland, the Danish military leader mentioned in western sources. In reality, Rurik probably arrived almost twenty years earlier, after which he and his followers extended their power south along the Dvina and Dnieper rivers, ousting or joining the previous Swedish adventurers called Rus. A generation later, most of the Magyars who dominated the Kiev region migrated west to where Hungary is now located, although who exactly drove them there — Bulgarians, Pechenegs, or Rus — remains unclear.
The state of Russia may not have been a major power then militarily, but large river fleets have already been built here that set sail thousands of miles for robbery or trade, and controlled strategic crossings between large rivers. The Khazars at that time were in a difficult situation and would probably have agreed to the seizure of Russian lands if the Khazar authorities continued to be recognized here. But around 930, Prince Igor seized power in Kiev, which soon became the main center of state power in Russia. For several decades, Igor was recognized as the crown prince and was engaged in the fact that together with his team he made annual trips to the polyuds, thus collecting his yet amorphous state into one whole ...
Page B. Prince Svyatoslav (971), warrior of the pagan squad, Prince of Pecheneg. Fig. A. McBride
"The name Varjazi or, in Byzantine Greek, Varangians was sometimes given to the warrior elite of this new Kievan Rusy but in fact the Varjazi were a separate group of Scandinavian adventurers, who included many pagans at a time when Christianity was spreading across Scandinavia itself ".
The name Varjazi, or, in Byzantine Greek, Varangians, was given to the elite of the warriors of this new Kievan Rus, but in fact Varjazi were a separate group of Scandinavian adventurers who included many pagans at a time when Christianity spread throughout Scandinavia.
Some of them traveled in large groups, which were ready-made “armies” led by Swedish, Norwegian and Danish leaders, who for a fee were ready to join anyone, including countries such as Georgia and Armenia, and either rob or trade.
However, it would be wrong to consider the creation of Kievan Rus exclusively as a Scandinavian enterprise. Existing Slavic tribal elites were also involved in this process, so during the time of Prince Vladimir, the military and merchant aristocracy of Kiev were a mixture of Scandinavian and Slavic families. In fact, the power of the princes depended on a union of their interests, the interests of its mainly Scandinavian squads, and city merchants of very different origins. Khazar tribal groups also played an important role in command and control of the army, as their culture was more developed than the culture of Scandinavian Rus. Meanwhile, the Balts and the Finns at that time still retained their social and, possibly, military structure under the remote authority of Kiev.
Page S. Russian soldiers of 10-11 centuries: 1 - “commander” of the princely “army”, 2 - warrior of the “senior squad”, 3 - city militia. Fig. A. McBride
Interestingly, the Varangian leaders were given the role of generals even in the Christian 11th century; Thus, one of the most famous examples is connected with the name of King Harald Hardrad, who eventually became king of Norway and died during the invasion of England in 1066. One of Harald’s court poets, Thiodolf, spoke about how Harald fought with Count Rognvald in the service of Prince Yaroslav, leading his squad. Moreover, Harald spent several years in Russia before heading to Byzantium, where he also had many adventures. Only by the beginning of the 12th century did the stream of Scandinavian warriors basically dry up, and those of them who had settled in Russia earlier were assimilated.
Page D. Russian soldiers of the 11-12th centuries: 1 - a Mordovian warrior, 2 - a princely retinue, 3 - a Novgorod militia. Fig. A. McBride
If we take into account that the entire printed text of this Osprey publication is only 48 pages, along with drawings and photographs, it turns out that the text itself is even smaller, about 32 pages. And here they had to tell about the history of Russia, and give the entire chronology of events from 750 to 1250, and tell about the older and younger squads, and about weapon and armor, fortresses and siege equipment, as well as give a description of the illustrations and a list of used literature, one can imagine both the level of generalization of this material and the level of skill in its presentation.
Page G. "Black Hoods" 12 - beginning of the 13th century .: 1 - a noble Russian warrior, 2 - the leader of the "black hoods, 3 - the standard bearer of the" black hoods "
The statement, we note, is strictly scientific, since it is easy to verify that the author did not step back one step from the data of our Russian historiography and texts of chronicles. After reading the whole book, you can be quite sure that it contains a very brief, concise, but nevertheless exhaustive description of the early history of the Russian state without any humiliation, as well as fantastic conjectures and distortions.
And here is a page with descriptions of illustrations (p. D, E and F) and instructions on the basis of which Russian sources they were made
PS But these photos D. Nicole and A. McBride used in the preparation of sketches for the design of this publication.
List of used literature. This is just one page, given as an example. Pay attention to the error in the surname Kirpichnikov. Well, our "Cyrillic" names and surnames, as well as many names, are not given to English-speaking foreigners. In the movie “Ocean’s Eight Friends” it is so bluntly said: “Russian with an unpronounceable surname!” And for many, this is true. But there is still a middle name - this is generally darkness and horror!
PPS The site administration and the author are grateful to the scientific team of the Mordovian Republican United Museum of Local Lore named after I.D. Voronin for the photos provided.