The Kievan Empire and Christianity Essay by JPWrite

The Kievan Empire and Christianity
An examination of the cultural and political consequences of the acceptance of Eastern Christianity by the Kievan Empire.
# 66683 | 1,244 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2006 | US
Published on Jun 18, 2006 in Religion and Theology (Christianity) , History (Russian)

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The paper states that the conversion of the Rus - the medieval political entity centered on the city of Kiev - is dated from 988, when its pagan ruler, Vladimir, and his subjects were baptized under the auspices of the Byzantine emperor, Basil II. The writer explains that the acceptance of Eastern Christianity may have been determined as much by geography as theology. The paper explains that, over time, the architecture, decorative arts and music, in the area of the Kievan Empire, began to reflect Byzantine style. The writer shows that one of the most significant consequences of the conversion of the Kievan Empire was the division between church and state. The paper explains that the Byzantine view of church-state relations suited the rulers of Kiev and later the Russian Tsars, who saw themselves as Caesars, who were all-powerful in their realms. It explains that autocracy has been a factor in the development of Russian leadership until the time of the Soviet Union, which itself had all-powerful leaders. In conclusion, the writer posits that had the Kievan Empire not converted to Eastern Christianity, the society and culture in Russia today would be far different from what would have developed in the absence of that conversion a millennium ago.

From the Paper:

"The acceptance of Eastern Christianity by the Kievan Empire may have been determined as much by geography as theology. Kiev, strategically situated on the Dnieper River, in the tenth century dominated the established trade route between the Baltic Sea in the north and the Black Sea in the south. This so-called "route from the Varyagi (Varangians or Vikings) to the Greeks," permitted trade from northern Europe to the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern Mediterranean, and various parts of Asia. The prosperity and influence of Vladimir's Kiev depended on the use and control of this route, which involved many rivers, lakes, and the portage of simple rafts and open boats between bodies of water (Barraclough 114-15). "Byzantium was not only Kiev's principal partner in this north-south trade, the two also at times fought wars against each other and at other times aided each other against the threat of third powers. In fact, the most direct cause of the conversion of Vladimir may have been an agreement between Vladimir and Emperor Basil that called for Vladimir to provide 6,000 troops to help Basil put down the rebellion of Phocas, one of Basil's generals, who had declared himself Emperor, taken over most of Asia Minor, and besieged Byzantium (Shchapov 58-59). What Vladimir got out of the agreement was marriage to an Imperial Princes, Anna, the Emperor's sister. "

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