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Christianization as prerequisite of emergence of national Orthodoxy of a mordva

e. A. Vdovin


Work is presented by department of history of scientific research institute of the humanities at the Government of the Republic of Mordovia.

The research supervisor - the Doctor of Philosophy, professor N.G. Yurchenkova

Article is devoted to sociocultural adaptation of a mordva in the course of entry into the Russian State where Christianization which was a prerequisite of emergence of national Orthodoxy was one of the major components.

The author comes to a conclusion that Christianization had beneficial influence on development of the Mordovian people. Its process caused certain changes in culture and to emergence of the Mordovian option of Orthodoxy which represented the Russian Orthodoxy adapted to pre-Christian beliefs and ceremonies of a mordva.

E. Vdovin


The paper is devoted to sociocultural adaptation of the Mordvinians during affiliation to the Russian state, where the most important components included Christianisation, which was a precondition for the national Orthodox Church origin.

The author comes to the conclusion that Christianisation favourably influenced the Mordvinian nation&s development. Its process resulted in certain changes in culture and genesis of the Mordvinian variant of the Orthodox Church, which was a Russian Orthodox Church adapted to pre-Christian faiths and rites of the Mordvinians.

One of the most important problems of socio-political history of the Mordovian people is the question of entry into the structure of the Russian state. In works of researchers there are several points of view on the nature of process and its time frames. M.F. Zhiganov, N.V. Zavaryukhin, G.Ya. Merkushkin, V.A. Yurchenkov and others addressed studying the matter.

To clear current situation, we will address the historical milestones of the Mordovian ethnos preceding this significant event.

Mordva - one of the most ancient people of Russia. As it is noted by V.A. Yurchenkov, the first written mention of it is dated 6th century. At this time the historian of gothic kings Jordan, describing tribes of Eastern Europe, called the people shogyoesh [6, page 65]. In the 9th century the Byzantine emperor Konstantin Bagryanorodny wrote about the country of Mordiya. At a boundary 1-11 millennium AD begin a slavyanization of Central Volga area including the Mordovian lands. At this time there is a release of the Mordovian lands from Hazaria dominion (by means of the Russian princes) and the mordva receives "full-fledged conditions for ethnocultural and economic development" [8, page 8]. Mordovia XII - the beginnings of the 13th century represented the independent strong state with division into two socio-political associations.

The Mongolian invasion (1236-1242) had tragic impact on the Mordovian people which suffered huge losses: destruction of all cities, loss of the most part of the population, degradation of culture [1, page 24]. After disintegration of the Horde there were changes in a way of life and economic activity of the Mordovian people: by the beginning of the 16th century. The Mordovian earth represented is universal the armed federation of small territories independent from each other.

For the solution of a question of time and forms of entry of a mordva into structure of Russia

the fact that already by the beginning of the Mongolian invasion the Mordovian people and Russia as it is noted by a number of researchers - V.A. Yurchenkov, M.F. Zhiganov, G.Ya. Merkushkin, M.V. Dorozh-kin [4, page 95], etc., connected rather strong bonds is important. Mordva "not just was a part of the power of Ryurik dynasty, it was one of the ethnic groups standing at the origins of Old Russian statehood" [2, page 142].

Mordvins became Russians, being free people, with the religion, traditions and the developed social government institution in the territory which was historically belonging to them was a part of Russia not as a result of gain, and on a contractual basis. But association of a mordva with Russia was the long process which dragged on for ages. It began during a time when Russia did not represent a whole yet, and came to the end when the uniform centralized Russian State was created.

An important component of process of entry of a mordva into infrastructure of the Russian state is Christianization. Process of Christianization in the history of the Mordovian people as many scientists note, was difficult, long and contradictory. Christianization was one of important measures of the national colonial policy of royal autocracy undertaken for strengthening of the power among the people of the Volga region, its ideological justification [5, page 144]. The beginning of Christianization of a mordva it is considered to be 16th century, the first written certificates on penetration of Christianity on Wednesday of the Mordovian people appear at this particular time.

Familiarizing of the Mordovian people with Christianity was accompanied by a number of difficulties. First, the Christianity was entered by violent methods that caused resistance from the Mordovian people. Fight against Christianization was in-

Christianization as prerequisite of emergence of national Orthodoxy of a mordva

tensivny. Striking examples of disorders and revolts are given by V.A. Yurchenkov who emphasizes that the fear of new possible performances forced the government to stop practice of capture in recruits of "pagans" instead of Christians, resettlements non-Christian of villages in which there lived novokreshchena were stopped. Also partial concessions are carried out. For example, the authorities refused arrest of "all instigators" of the Teryushevsky revolt in view of their "great variety" [6, page 245]. After suppression of revolts the systematic assimilation of a mordva on its radical lands began. The policy directed to blasting productive forces of edge was that became "in all ways to care for the greatest strengthening of the Russian population between foreigners, it was not allowed to get in the Mordovian villages smithies and even the agricultural tools and other metal things necessary in house life, was permitted to buy only in the cities, and besides in the most limited quantity. At the same time the most active measures to distribution of Christianity, the main thing, to the statement of a mordva in true belief and to, perhaps, to bigger russification were taken" [3, page 42]. The similar policy caused mass flight of a mordva from native places: in Zavolzhye, to the Urals, to Siberia. Within this policy the further development was gained by Christianization which is carried out by more and more flexible methods (granting privileges, lands, etc. for a baptism, the settlement in the Mordovian villages of the Mordovian Russians and also resettlement of a mordva to the Russian villages, construction of monasteries and churches). Secondly, it is communicative difficulties. When carrying out Christianization as it is noted by V.A. Yurchenkov, "the government faced absence among clergy of the people knowing the Erzya and Moksha languages. The Word of God pronounced in Russian had small impact on peasants. Therefore training of the missionaries knowing languages began" [9, page 376]. N.F. Mokshin also emphasized that because of bad knowledge of Russian

mordvy Christianization went is problematic in this connection missionaries inclined to need of introduction on the Mordovian Wednesday of Orthodoxy to use the native language [5, page 238]. Projects of training of a mordva in the Russian diploma offered in the 1720th. I.T. Pososhkov and V. Simonov, but they were not carried out, not their democratism pleased the State and church authorities. "It demonstrated that in the Russian society the trend of peaceful Christianization of a mordva, a trend of a nonviolent statement & #34 grows ripe; beliefs христовой" in the Mordovian region" [6, page 247]. Missionary schools at which it was supposed to train representatives from the non-russian people, in particular a mordva began to be created. Education of missionaries - from the Mordovian people was a task of these schools. This measure was more effective and important for development of the Mordovian people, its culture and language as the Mordovian dictionaries began to be formed, grammars of the Mordovian language, many bible books were translated into the Mordovian languages ("Gospel of Matthew", "Gospel of Luke", etc.), and then there were books in the Mordovian languages which played a big role in familiarizing of the Mordovian people with culture and education, - "The abc-book for a mordvy-erza" with accession of prayers and the Russian alphabet (1884, 1892, 1894), "The abc-book for mordvy-Moksha" (1892, 1897), etc. It, naturally, not only strengthened Orthodoxy among the Mordovian people, but also promoted its education, increase in the general culture, promoted formation of the Mordovian literary languages, preparation of national consciousness. Thirdly, on average the Volga region to Christianity in the form of Russian Orthodox Church was necessary to compete to other world religion - Moslem which began to take root much earlier, at the beginning of the 13th century, but then the address of a mordva to Christianity did not happen, despite existence of certain conditions. The Mongolian invasion prevented. This historical event caused adoption of Islam otdel-

ny Mordovian settlements: "After establishment of economic and political domination over a considerable part of the Mordovian people the zolotoordynsky feudal lords began to push aside strongly the Mordovian culture, language, to violently extend Islam" [7, page 68]. But Islam was not apprehended by the Mordovian people, much bigger here, than Islam, impact on outlook of a mordva were made by Orthodoxy which approached the Mordovian people through transition to its native - the Mordovian language, it also helped to introduce Orthodoxy on the Mordovian Wednesday. "Fixing of Orthodoxy in the Mordovian environment falls on the second half of XVIII - the beginning of the 19th century when it got into life, became a way component" [7, page 72].

Influence of Christianity caused first of all degradation of paganism. However under the influence of Christianity the ancient tradition not only collapsed, but also evolved: the Christianity promoted transformation of a pagan pantheon, introduced the new ideas or gave an incentive to reconsideration of old. So, at the time the Russian paganism after Christianization not only did not degrade, but also in the separate parts capable to coexistence with Christianity, developed. Thus, national Orthodoxy which, occurring in any given territory, arising on any given national and cultural soil, gains special, peculiar features which go back to beliefs and the culture of each separate people became one of types of religion. So, the Mordovian national Orthodoxy has the specifics, as it is traced through the history of Christianization of a mordva. V.A. Yurchenkov notes this fact: "The flexible policy of the government led to a baptism of tens of thousands of Mordovian peasants. However most often adoption of Christianity happened formally. Besides, accepting Orthodoxy, the Mordovian peasants continued to pray to the gods. Very difficult ideological phenomenon resulted - the Christian belief was kind of imposed on ancient pagan, vi-

its doizmenyala. There was very peculiar symbiosis, some kind of new religion" [7, page 249]. Orthodoxy as the universaliruyu-shchy beginning does not win - pagan elements nevertheless remain in the Mordovian people, there is a mixture of pre-Christian and Christian religious representations. So, interference of Christianity and Mordovian paganism as fairly considers N.G. Yurchenkov, "generated a peculiar alloy of outlook of a mordva - dvoyevery" [6, page 249], i.e. belief national, sinkretichny on the essence. The Mordovian pre-Christian beliefs and ceremonies are more closely connected with the world around, with labor, public and family life of the people, than the Christian religion which is far from direct needs, daily needs and cares of the peasant is too abstract. Mordva with big hunting and without any coercion from authorities borrowed at the time, for example, a lot of things from pre-Christian beliefs and ceremonies of the Russian people that is quite natural as these beliefs and ceremonies were similar to the Mordovian, were adapted economic household to way of the Russian peasant similar to way of the Mordovian peasant. Reconsideration, modification and adaptation of Christian religion and ceremonies in consciousness of a mordva in terms of pre-Christian beliefs is also explained by it. Missionaries of Russian Orthodox Church, as N.F. Mokshin notes, understood it and in turn for the fastest Christianization began to act in other way. This way was expressed in the aspiration to adapt Christian dogma and ceremonies for the Mordovian beliefs and ceremonies, for production living conditions and communal and family traditions of the Mordovian people [5, page 176].

So, after entry of a mordva into structure of Russia the process of Christianization of the Mordovian people began. It was natural and natural historical process which had beneficial influence on development of the Mordovian people, its culture and national consciousness. History hri-

shows stianization that this process was accompanied by a number of difficulties which were anyway overcome. A result of long interaction of Christianity with pre-Christian beliefs and

ceremonies of a mordva was emergence of national Orthodoxy which represents the Russian Orthodoxy adapted in relation to pre-Christian beliefs and ceremonies of a mordva.


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