WI/AHC: Surviving Kievan Rus = “Slavic HRE”

The Kievan Rus was a powerful Slavic kingdom, that controlled the lands of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, that later through decline, became a loose federation principalities and republics, with the Grand Prince of Kiev as Ruler. (Sounds Familiar *Cough* HRE *Cough*)

The final nail in the coffin, of the already fractured Kievan Rus, were the Mongols, who invaded, and fragmenting into various successor principalities and republics

What if, Kievan Rus had survived the Mongols, or the “Tarter Yoke” was short lived, and the title of “Grand Prince of Kiev“ was still used afterwards? However, by this point, Kievan Rus is nothing more than a loose federation of principalities and republics, and becomes akin to a “Slavic HRE” where the Grand Prince has no hold over its other princes?

How would this change Slavic history, if Kievan Rus survived the Mongols, and became sort of a “Slavic HRE”?
 
They probably wouldn’t be able to expand their influence beyond the Urals, therefore no Russian Alaska, and the Qing (or Chinese nation at the time) wouldn’t lose Vladivostok and the Transamur. No Russo-Japanese war. Maybe later on there would be a “Great Unifier”.
 
They probably wouldn’t be able to expand their influence beyond the Urals, therefore no Russian Alaska, and the Qing (or Chinese nation at the time) wouldn’t lose Vladivostok and the Transamur. No Russo-Japanese war. Maybe later on there would be a “Great Unifier”.
why not?
 
I imagine that MIttle is expecting a lack of central authority to lead to intercine conflict between the principalities and making them less likely to look past the Urals as a source of expansion since it would leave them at risk of attack by their neighbors.

Which is something I'm not so sure about. Historically, the drive beyond the Urals was driven by wealth magnates at first, not the Tsar. There could be something akin to the Teutonic Order or the Germanic settlements in the Balkans and Russia here, but whether or not that accelerates to any meaningful level is an unknown.

It would certainly be very interesting to have a Russian Federation (for lack of a better term), though how long it would stay that way and not coalesce around major players (Kiev, Novogorod, some other cities I'm not aware of) ala the Bavarians, Saxons, Prussians and Austrians is another unknown.
 
I imagine that MIttle is expecting a lack of central authority to lead to intercine conflict between the principalities and making them less likely to look past the Urals as a source of expansion since it would leave them at risk of attack by their neighbors.

Which is something I'm not so sure about. Historically, the drive beyond the Urals was driven by wealth magnates at first, not the Tsar. There could be something akin to the Teutonic Order or the Germanic settlements in the Balkans and Russia here, but whether or not that accelerates to any meaningful level is an unknown.

It would certainly be very interesting to have a Russian Federation (for lack of a better term), though how long it would stay that way and not coalesce around major players (Kiev, Novogorod, some other cities I'm not aware of) ala the Bavarians, Saxons, Prussians and Austrians is another unknown.
That was my thought, too. Perhaps competition between the principalities leads some to more actively expand eastwards.
 
You wouldn't have political expansion towards the Urals due to the probable internecine conflict (the aforementioned wealthy magnates would be way too occupied with other stuff to bother), but you certainly would have some cossack-like groups migrating east and creating confederations (in the plural) with the native peoples, but i expect it to be rather slower than the OTL Russian expansion (that was already slow), these confederations would probably be used by the russian states as mercenaries or outright allies in internal conflict, and i won't rule out the possibility of a later invasion anyhow.
 
The Kievan Rus was a powerful Slavic kingdom, that controlled the lands of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, that later through decline, became a loose federation principalities and republics, with the Grand Prince of Kiev as Ruler. (Sounds Familiar *Cough* HRE *Cough*)

The final nail in the coffin, of the already fractured Kievan Rus, were the Mongols, who invaded, and fragmenting into various successor principalities and republics

What if, Kievan Rus had survived the Mongols, or the “Tarter Yoke” was short lived, and the title of “Grand Prince of Kiev“ was still used afterwards? However, by this point, Kievan Rus is nothing more than a loose federation of principalities and republics, and becomes akin to a “Slavic HRE” where the Grand Prince has no hold over its other princes?

How would this change Slavic history, if Kievan Rus survived the Mongols, and became sort of a “Slavic HRE”?
By the time of the Mongolian invasion the Kievan Rus was long gone. The title “Grand Prince of Kiev” was still in use but it was second in importance to “Grand Prince of Vladimir” (hence “Vladimir-Syzdal Rus”) and Galitz-Volynia was a completely separate entity.

These details aside, yes, by the time of conquest the “Rus” was kind of a federation ruled by the Rurikid family but position of the Grand Prince of Vladimir was not electable. The rules of succession had been defined in the late XII century. The top throne had been inherited by the senior male whose father was the Grand Prince (not necessarily the last one) and he had a direct rules only over his father’s territories. The same principle applied to the lesser princes.

The Mongols more or less retained that principle with the few exceptions (for example, Guyuk made the 2nd son of the late prince of Vladimir a new Grand Prince because the 1st son was a known Batu’s loyalist, however after the appointee’s unsuccessful rebellion the 1st son got his rightful title from Batu, Guyuk being dead by that time). The main “contribution” was a requirement for every prince to get confirmation from the ruler of the Blue Horde. Process of the fragmentation continued because it had been built into the system (each son of a ruling prince needed to get his princedom which would be subordinated to the senior prince of that family branch).
Edit: While fragmentation kept going on, power of the lesser princes within the Mongolian system had been steadily diminishing because it was more preferable from the Mongolian perspective to deal with the limited number of the Russian entities (soon after the conquest the system of the Mongolian visiting tax collectors had been replaced with shifting that responsibility to the local princes) and, ideally, with a single local tax collector, the Great Prince of Vladimir (starting from some point this position was held by the princes of Moscow). Small wonder that the princes holding that position had been accumulating increasing amount of power at the expense of the rest.

It can be argued that without the Mongolian interest in having a single local “agent” the process would continue in the HRE like fashion because the princes of Vladimir would not have a chance to accumulate enough wealth and strength to go the OTL way. But there is no guarantee either way.

As for the expansion beyond the Ural, it should be preceded by the expansion to the Volga region. And this would be possible only in the case of a reasonably strong Slavic state because there was no power vacuum even without the Mongols and in he case of the earlier disntegration of the Golden Horde there would be, as in OTL, the successor states too powerful to be ignored or easily conquered.
 
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You wouldn't have political expansion towards the Urals due to the probable internecine conflict (the aforementioned wealthy magnates would be way too occupied with other stuff to bother), but you certainly would have some cossack-like groups migrating east and creating confederations (in the plural) with the native peoples, but i expect it to be rather slower than the OTL Russian expansion (that was already slow), these confederations would probably be used by the russian states as mercenaries or outright allies in internal conflict, and i won't rule out the possibility of a later invasion anyhow.
Existence of these “wealthy magnates” (in OTL a single rich merchant Stroganov family ) was a byproduct of already strong Muscovite state. As for the cossack-conquistadors, their operations required financial and material support either from these “magnates” or from the state. They needed weaponry, gunpowder, clothes and food to start and continue their activities and they could not maintain control of these new territories without government’s resources. Band of the “conqueror” of Siberian Khanate, Yermak, was completely exterminated during his second expedition and the process was continued by the government’s troops and the salaried Cossacks. The “natives”, even without the Mongols, had states (Bulgar on Volga would be on the way) and the unorganized bands of the invaders would not be welcomed.
 
The Holy Roman Empire was free Imperial cities, monasteries, guilds, and Electors or any magnate with the power to vote for the Emperor. To get all this in Russia we assume the Mongols wanted more subjects to tax and massacre. Asia Minor after Manzikert was full of Greeks with a strong incentive to leave the Byzantine Empire. A Greek orthodox tax collector for the Khanate offers free land along the Volga, political independence (Mongols massacre them at will, but protect from others and let them mind their own affairs), and high pay for skilled work from Greeks who form guilds with Chinese artificers. Greek equivalents to Capuchin lay orders. A string of Imperial cities along the Volga. Baltic shipbuilders are transferred east in time to conquer Japan in crap weather, but Greek Orthodox horse archers are tough enough for a Russian HRE independent of Mongols and Turks from Sevastopol to the Baltic by 1400.
 
Just a small point:

Decentralized entities often are well able to manage population and imperial expansions without the need of centralized action. As long as the internal realms are united n a wish for external expansion, it can happen. The Zhou Dynasty, the Merovingian realms, the Holy Roman Empire,the Arsaco-Sassanid confederacies, the Abbasid Caliphate, etc... all prove this point that decentralized realms can expand. It is only a matter of internal will and coalition ambition.

The main issue with external expansion for these Rurikid states, is that they face very powerful foes to their east. Perhaps a slow slog north and east, perhaps with a pivot towards the Papacy, gaining access to settlers and allies in the Frankish core of Europe?
 
As for the expansion beyond the Ural, it should be preceded by the expansion to the Volga region. And this would be possible only in the case of a reasonably strong Slavic state because there was no power vacuum even without the Mongols and in he case of the earlier disntegration of the Golden Horde there would be, as in OTL, the successor states too powerful to be ignored or easily conquered.

Vladimir-Syzdal's Volga expansion in the pre-Mongol era happened IOTL.

328574ce51819d853bcdedc1147b8faf86d2fa29.jpg

- Soloviev's History of Russia - vol. 4
 
Vladimir-Syzdal's Volga expansion in the pre-Mongol era happened IOTL.

328574ce51819d853bcdedc1147b8faf86d2fa29.jpg

- Soloviev's History of Russia - vol. 4
As you understand, “loyalty” did not mean loss of independence or the Russian expansion similar to one that eventually happened in OTL (exchange of the hostages means equal relations, you are usually not giving hostages to the people you subdued). BTW, I’m curious which word Soloviev was using: translations are quite often missing important nuances and if “loyalty” is a substitute for “верность” then it most probably means the allied relations (“Prussia is loyal to me” did not mean that NI considered it a subdued territory). Bulgar on Volga remained an independent and rather strong state: when the Mongols returned in 1236 it took them 5 years to conquer it while Vladimir-Suzdal Rus was conquered within few months of a winter campaign.

It is safe to say that there was a tendency to expand in that direction but degree of its success in no-Mongolian TL is anybody’s guess at least in the short term.
 
Just a small point:

Decentralized entities often are well able to manage population and imperial expansions without the need of centralized action. As long as the internal realms are united n a wish for external expansion, it can happen. The Zhou Dynasty, the Merovingian realms, the Holy Roman Empire,the Arsaco-Sassanid confederacies, the Abbasid Caliphate, etc... all prove this point that decentralized realms can expand. It is only a matter of internal will and coalition ambition.

The main issue with external expansion for these Rurikid states, is that they face very powerful foes to their east. Perhaps a slow slog north and east, perhaps with a pivot towards the Papacy, gaining access to settlers and allies in the Frankish core of Europe?
Actually, without the Mongols (assuming that they stopped at Volga and then promptly disintegrated or, even better, stopped at Ural) the main challenge was on the West and it was a growing power of Lithuania. In OTL the Grand Duchy ended up possessing more “Russian” lands than the Muscovite state of prior to Ivan III. Even in OTL eastward expansion (conquest of the successors of the GH) happened prior to the successful attempts of the Westward expansion.

The pre-Mongolian neighbors on the East and South could be a nuisance but not a serious threat in the terms of being able to conquer Russian territories.
 
Actually, without the Mongols (assuming that they stopped at Volga and then promptly disintegrated or, even better, stopped at Ural) the main challenge was on the West and it was a growing power of Lithuania. In OTL the Grand Duchy ended up possessing more “Russian” lands than the Muscovite state of prior to Ivan III. Even in OTL eastward expansion (conquest of the successors of the GH) happened prior to the successful attempts of the Westward expansion.

The pre-Mongolian neighbors on the East and South could be a nuisance but not a serious threat in the terms of being able to conquer Russian territories.

Well assuming that this Rus state wishes to expand, you would contend that the Lithuanian duchy is a stronger foe than the Quman-Qipchaq for the Rus to take on in an offensive stance? I am not saying that these states will conquer Rus, but who is more difficult to defeat in long term military conquests.
 
The Holy Roman Empire was free Imperial cities, monasteries, guilds, and Electors or any magnate with the power to vote for the Emperor. To get all this in Russia we assume the Mongols wanted more subjects to tax and massacre. Asia Minor after Manzikert was full of Greeks with a strong incentive to leave the Byzantine Empire. A Greek orthodox tax collector for the Khanate offers free land along the Volga, political independence (Mongols massacre them at will, but protect from others and let them mind their own affairs), and high pay for skilled work from Greeks who form guilds with Chinese artificers. Greek equivalents to Capuchin lay orders. A string of Imperial cities along the Volga. Baltic shipbuilders are transferred east in time to conquer Japan in crap weather, but Greek Orthodox horse archers are tough enough for a Russian HRE independent of Mongols and Turks from Sevastopol to the Baltic by 1400.
Very interesting but there are few tiny problems:
Mongols were not massacring their subjects unless they rebelled because taxing the dead subjects would be problematic.
The next problem is that population of the Asia Minor fell under the jurisdiction of the Ilkhanate and soon after its creation Ilkhanate went into the war with the GH so by the time a Christian Mongolian tax collector appeared there the proposed schema would be considered a treason by the Ilkhan.
The land along the Volga was not quite “free” because it was where a big part of the GH population lived. It is realistic to assume that the Mongols would be inviting the Greek artisans (from the Empire) to the newly created cities on the Volga but why would they be massacring them? The artisans were a valuable commodity.
How the Baltic shipbuilders are getting into the picture is anybody’s guess because the Mongols did not control the Baltic coast and why do you think that they’d build the ships better adjusted to the bad weather than the Chinese and Koreans?

I did not get the meaning of the last sentence so can you please explain?

😜
 
Well assuming that this Rus state wishes to expand, you would contend that the Lithuanian duchy is a stronger foe than the Quman-Qipchaq for the Rus to take on in an offensive stance? I am not saying that these states will conquer Rus, but who is more difficult to defeat in long term military conquests.
The Kipchaks had been in a category of “nuisance” by the time of Jebe-Subotai raid. They were successfully dealt with more than once, there were inter marriages and they had been quite often used as the allies or mercenaries by the Russian princes fighting other Russian princes. Russian warfare had been adjusted to dealing with them: besides the heavy “shock” cavalry there were numerous light mounted archers acting as the advance troops (can be seen everywhere from Kalka to Peipus).

The Lithuanians, OTOH, started to be a major problem somewhere before 1240 and kept being a growing problem at least in OTL. Vitold had been “protector” of Novgorod and Moscow, conquered Smolensk region and, formally had a state stretching from Baltic to the Black Sea. How this happened is somewhat a mystery for me because the Lithuanian armies were not big and not well armed. Mostly, as I understand, a light cavalry but not the horse archers.

As for the defeating, it would not make too much sense for the Russian princedoms to “defeat” the Kipchaks unless they had an ability to populate the steppe area effectively (which they did not). The Lithuanian expansion into the Russian lands indicated that they were mostly doing the defeating. Then, again, in OTL the Mongols had been a major factor and how things would turn without them we can only guess. One thing of importance is that at least all the way to Vitold conquest by Lithuania just meant that you got a new Grand Duke instead of the old one with more or less the same vassal obligations and with a legal right to get to the service of the Grand Duke of Moscow (when Moscow rose into a meaningful state) when you feel like that (the Russian historic aristocracy ended up being packed by the descendants of Olgerd and Gedemin or some other prominent Lithuanians). Plus, the Lithuanian Grand Duke could provide some protection against the external enemies. so why not?
 
The Kipchaks had been in a category of “nuisance” by the time of Jebe-Subotai raid. They were successfully dealt with more than once, there were inter marriages and they had been quite often used as the allies or mercenaries by the Russian princes fighting other Russian princes. Russian warfare had been adjusted to dealing with them: besides the heavy “shock” cavalry there were numerous light mounted archers acting as the advance troops (can be seen everywhere from Kalka to Peipus).

The Lithuanians, OTOH, started to be a major problem somewhere before 1240 and kept being a growing problem at least in OTL. Vitold had been “protector” of Novgorod and Moscow, conquered Smolensk region and, formally had a state stretching from Baltic to the Black Sea. How this happened is somewhat a mystery for me because the Lithuanian armies were not big and not well armed. Mostly, as I understand, a light cavalry but not the horse archers.

As for the defeating, it would not make too much sense for the Russian princedoms to “defeat” the Kipchaks unless they had an ability to populate the steppe area effectively (which they did not). The Lithuanian expansion into the Russian lands indicated that they were mostly doing the defeating. Then, again, in OTL the Mongols had been a major factor and how things would turn without them we can only guess. One thing of importance is that at least all the way to Vitold conquest by Lithuania just meant that you got a new Grand Duke instead of the old one with more or less the same vassal obligations and with a legal right to get to the service of the Grand Duke of Moscow (when Moscow rose into a meaningful state) when you feel like that (the Russian historic aristocracy ended up being packed by the descendants of Olgerd and Gedemin or some other prominent Lithuanians). Plus, the Lithuanian Grand Duke could provide some protection against the external enemies. so why not?

The Lithuanians were already expanding into the Russian princely realms before the Mongol incursions? Frankly, I was unaware... I had been under the impression (without any real study, just conception) that the Lithuanian state had only begun to be expanionistic after the Mongol conquests which made implicit alliances with the Lithuanian state, permitting and assisting their conquests as enforcers of Golden Horde influence.

It is interesting indeed though. Lithuania is not the realm that I would expect to be anywhere the match of the Rus princes, especially in long term competition, but I suppose the Lithuanians had skilled commanders, warriors and perhaps some type of system that aided them in this affair.

And by 'defeat' the Quman-Qipchaq, I did mean populate the steppe. Do as the Han under Emperor Wu intended against the Xiongnu, that is drive the enemy forth and then fill the region with fortifications and farming communes. This would enact a battle over space between the sedentary Rus and the Turkic steppe to its east and south. Indeed, this is the most appropriate stance to take with such foes, assuming you have the resources and expertise to do so.
 
The Lithuanians were already expanding into the Russian princely realms before the Mongol incursions? Frankly, I was unaware... I had been under the impression (without any real study, just conception) that the Lithuanian state had only begun to be expanionistic after the Mongol conquests which made implicit alliances with the Lithuanian state, permitting and assisting their conquests as enforcers of Golden Horde influence.

It is interesting indeed though. Lithuania is not the realm that I would expect to be anywhere the match of the Rus princes, especially in long term competition, but I suppose the Lithuanians had skilled commanders, warriors and perhaps some type of system that aided them in this affair.

And by 'defeat' the Quman-Qipchaq, I did mean populate the steppe. Do as the Han under Emperor Wu intended against the Xiongnu, that is drive the enemy forth and then fill the region with fortifications and farming communes. This would enact a battle over space between the sedentary Rus and the Turkic steppe to its east and south. Indeed, this is the most appropriate stance to take with such foes, assuming you have the resources and expertise to do so.
I did not say that the Lithuanian conquests of the Russian territories started before the Mongolian invasion but the conflicts were definitely going on. For example, when the Mongols had been conquering the Great Princedom of Vladimir, killing the Great Prince and his sons in the process, the younger brother of the Great Prince, Yaroslav of Suzdal was fighting the Lithuanians.
The Lithuanians had been allied with the GH much later because at the time of the Mongolian conquest of the Russian lands the Lithuanian state was on its early stages of creation and rather too far from the Mongols. Neither did they (AFAIK) act as the Mongolian “enforcer” because their territories would not be a part of the GH. Their serious expansion Eastward started (AFAIK) only in mid-XIV (see the map below) when the GH began falling apart and resulted in a military conflict, battle of the Blue Waters, which brought the city of Kiev and a large part of present-day Ukraine, including sparsely populated Podolia and Dykra, under the control of the expanding Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
1598670182884.png

In an absence of the Mongols the whole dynamics could be different because it is impossible to tell how the Russian <whatever> would look like after an extra century of uninterrupted development. Would it be more or less centralized? Would the princes of the Western and Southern Russia prefer Lithuania to Vladimir (or whatever would be the main Russian princedom) as an overlord?

Now, as far as conquest of the steppe is involved, parallel with China is not going to work even if just because there was no surplus of the population and no central government capable of accomplishing a program you described. The process was opposite: people and power shifted to the secure North-East and on the steppe border a reasonably stable situation had been achieved (with the raids in both directions). Eventually, process of moving into the steppe could start but even in OTL it was rather slow and was not completed until second half of the XVIII. Push eastward toward the Volga and beyond (and down the river) was more logical for the Northern Rus and its success would be a subject to having a reasonably strong state (or very few such states).
 
Now, as far as conquest of the steppe is involved, parallel with China is not going to work even if just because there was no surplus of the population and no central government capable of accomplishing a program you described. The process was opposite: people and power shifted to the secure North-East and on the steppe border a reasonably stable situation had been achieved (with the raids in both directions). Eventually, process of moving into the steppe could start but even in OTL it was rather slow and was not completed until second half of the XVIII. Push eastward toward the Volga and beyond (and down the river) was more logical for the Northern Rus and its success would be a subject to having a reasonably strong state (or very few such states).
Decentralized Zhou China was able to expand into nomadic territory too, it all depends on how strong the Steppe states are during this period.
 
Decentralized Zhou China was able to expand into nomadic territory too, it all depends on how strong the Steppe states are during this period.
It also depends on how strong the Southern Russian states are and how much population do they have. With the general migration to the North East the Southern Rus did not have surplus of the resources of any kind. IIRC, by the time of the Mongolian invasion Kiev even did not have its own prince and was ruled by an administrator sent from Galitz.

There were no Steppe states in the 1240s and prior to that because neither Pechenegs nor Polovtsy ended up with anything like the Mongolian state. They were more or less loose confederation of the nomadic clans. But between the IX and XIII the Russian princedoms did not expand too much into the steppe areas and by the XIII even some of the earlier held land were lost.
 
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