Reviews

The author shows the evolution of Russian historiography about an eventful period and highly problematic of the history of Russia. He introduces the idea that the study of the Golden Horde by Russian scholars was long implemented through eviction, or through selection of peculiar episodes. In the eighteenth century Russian historians followed the vision of the Mongols conveyed by mediaeval chronicles. Pioneering authors like Tatishchev, Karamzin and Solov’ev used to describe the ‘Tartars’ as unfaithful, and following the goal of punishing the Orthodox. Questions of legitimacy and cultural exchange were omitted, in order to concentrate on aggression. One century later, scholars like Sablukov and Berezin developed the study of varied aspects of the Golden Horde: its currency, its internal structure, the yarliqs for the Orthodox Church, etc. These works also raised the issue of a Mongol influence upon Russian social customs. However, the vision of the Mongols as an alien force, and as the main reason of Russia’s isolation from Europe remained predominant. Substantial change came from studies of the post-WWII period. In the wake of Bartol’d’s work, Vladimirstov introduced the notion of ‘nomadic feudalism’, before the major synthesis by Grekov & Iakubovskii, and regional developments like the one by Khalikov on Volga Bulghars. All these contributions have permitted a new perception of the Golden Horde as a Muslim state, notably through its diplomatic relations with the world of Islam. Tatar influence on Russia could also resurface, as well as the issue of Muscovy’s borrowings from the Khanate of Kazan. The author brings his own contribution to the rehabilitation of the Golden Horde as a major symbiosis between nomadic and sedentary worlds, through the superposition of a Muslim bureaucracy to a tribal social body. Ch. Halperin also insists on the significance of the Silk Road’s economic impact, an aspect of the things often ignored by mediaeval chronicles as well as by modern historians, till our days.

Florent Souris, Pantheon Sorbonne University, Paris
CER: II-1.2.A-22