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Vladimir was Re: Lucus (was: Re: Judajca)

From:Peter Clark <peter-clark@...>
Date:Saturday, August 24, 2002, 15:43
On Saturday 24 August 2002 10:05, Pavel Iosad wrote:
> Well, rally he chose it for other reason, that's how the legend runs > (according to the legend, he refused Islam because he said (a byword > now) _Veseliye Rusi yest' pitiye_ "Drinking is Russia's cheer", and > Judaism because "God has expelled you and scattered you all over the > face of the earth").
While the Chronicle of By-Gone Days (aka The Primary Chronicle) does not mention it, it is likely that the Jewish missionaries were Khazarian. Even if they were not, Vladimir would have associated Judaism with Khazaria. And by 988, Khazaria rapidly crumbling. Vladimir's father, Svyatoslav, had conquered some important regions of Khazaria, and Vladimir himself had led a few campaigns against Khazaria. Vladimir was definitely interested in seeing the destruction of Khazaria, especially since it stood in the way of trade with the Calliphate to the south. Converting to Judaism probably was never even a remote option in Vladimir's mind, given all this.
> The actual reason, as I suppose are more political, > to wit: > > The Kiev princes' constant plans of southwestern expansion, i.e. towards > the Orthodox Balkans. > More importantly, Byzantine Christianity assigned a much greater role to > the worldly ruler, with its doctrine of "symphony", unlike Romam > Catholicism, which prescribed the Papal influence, or Judaism, which at > that point was dismissing anything non-religious at doctrinal level.
The Chronicle explains that Vladimir did not like the practice of fasting that the German missionaries advocated, but I suspect your explanation is probably closer to the truth. Plus, if we consider that Constantinople was far closer to Kiev than Rome, and that there were more economic and political benefits to aligning with Constantinople than Rome (even though at this point, the Great Schism was still 60+ years away), Vladimir's choice was obvious. (Quoting Tim May:)
> > But he could have chosen differently. He's supposed to have quite > > liked Islam, apart from the prohibition of alcohol. It's probably > > naive to suppose that if he'd chosen differently, the Eastern European > > world would necessarily have ended up dominated by religion X, but > > it's a plausible basis for a conhistory. Cyrillic was only ~100 years > > old at this time, so I guess Russian might have ended up being written > > in a script derived from Arabic or Hebrew.
Really, Byzantine Christianity and Islam were probably the only two viable options in Vladimir's mind. Vladimir was quite the womanizer, so he probably liked the 70 virgins part, but he was also fond of drink. In the end, I think that Vladimir simply saw more political and economic advantages in converting to Byzantine Christianity; remember, he was able to pressure the emperors (there were two brothers ruling at the time) to give him their sister in marriage. THAT is an extremely powerful political bargaining chip, and Vladimir, doubtlessly seeking some way to catapult Rus' from the barbaric hinterland to the international stage, no doubt saw conversion as his golden ticket. I just realized I sound incredibly cynical, but I'm just a little suspicious of Vladimir's motives. Sorry... :Peter


Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Pavel Iosad <pavel_iosad@...>