Vladimir-Suzdal principality: culture, architecture, chronicles, history

The formation and existence of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality in Russian history is one of its most significant pages. This is the period of transition from the power of Kievan Rus to the emergence of the Great Russian state. The history of Vladimir-Suzdal principality will be told to the reader in the article.

Prerequisites for the birth of a principality

Gradually, the Grand Duchy of Kiev fell into decay. This was facilitated by internal clashes between the princes and the devastating raids of the Mongol-Tatars. Peasants were removed from their homes in search of a better and more secure life. And they managed to find where to equip their life.

In the north-east of the country were the edges where the Finno-Finns lived. The territory stretched between the banks of the Oka and the Volga and was separated from Kiev by a wide strip of forest. From the 9th century, the great migration of Slavic tribes began there, which led to assimilation with the locals and provided the basis for the birth of the Russian nation. What were these lands attractive about?

  • Here lay the famous "way from the Varangians to the Greeks."
  • There were excellent conditions for the development of agriculture - a huge number of rivers and meadows, fertile soil.
  • The forest provided excellent protection against invasions of nomads.
  • The boyars were in power - Zalesskaya Rus for this reason did not know what princely feuds were.

By the XI century there were such large cities of Vladimir-Suzdal principality as Rostov, Suzdal, Ryazan, Murom, Yaroslavl. Nevertheless, in the field of view of the great Kiev princes, this territory for a long time did not fall due to its remoteness.

Vladimir Suzdal principality culture

Separation of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality

The economic development and political organization of the specific territory over time led to its separation from Kiev. The boyars actively called for this - no one wanted to share their wealth with the Grand Duke. The independent principality was named Rostov-Suzdal, later renamed Vladimir-Suzdal.

The prince's throne was initially given to the younger sons of the Kiev princes, as these lands were considered to be rather poor and wild. But in the 12th century the situation changed.Having visited the rather developed lands by that time, Vladimir Monomakh planted his sons, Yaropolk, and then Yuri, to reign. For a time, the capital was Suzdal. Later, realizing the need for a strong fortified city, the Grand Prince of Kiev in 1108 founded the city of Vladimir on the banks of the Klyazma. Since that time, a new period in history began - the shift of political influence from the south and the glorification of a new center of influence in the northeast.

Suzdal Kremlin

The reign of Yuri Dolgoruky

The final separation of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality from Kievan Rus occurred after the death of Vladimir Monomakh during the reign of his son Yuri Dolgoruky. He received his nickname for a reason - for his immense desire to join all nearby lands. In addition, despite the power in an independent principality, the dream of Yuri was to seize the Kiev throne, as he could not get it, being the youngest son. Repeated military campaigns eventually brought results - in 1155, Yuri Dolgoruky became the Grand Prince of Kiev.

Despite the aggressive aspirations, the son of Monomakh was actively developing his principality.Under him, such cities of Vladimir-Suzdal principality as Zvenigorod, Yuryev-Polsky, Dmitrov, Pereyaslavl-Zalessky were founded. The greatest fame brought Yuri the foundation of Moscow. In the chronicle there is a mention of meeting on April 4, 1147 with the Prince of Chernigov in a small village, which in the future was to become one of the most significant capitals of the world.

On the throne of Kiev, Yuri Dolgoruky did not last long - just two years. The local princes did not accept him, and historians agreed that he was poisoned.

Board of Andrei Bogolyubsky

After the seizure of power in Kiev, Yuri gave the nearest land to his sons. Thus, he believed that after his death one of them would take the princely throne. The suburb of Kiev - Vyshgorod - went to the eldest son Andrew. But the prince had other plans.

He spent his entire adult life in the Vladimir-Suzdal principality, and his heart and soul were completely surrendered to these lands. He did not share his father’s dreams and did not see the charms of Kiev. And at one fine moment, ignoring the will of his father, he fled from Vyshgorod to return to his homeland.

A legend is connected with his escape - with him he secretly brought out the icon of the Mother of God, one of the shrines of the Orthodox Church.Driving past Vladimir, the horse on which she was being carried stopped, and he could not be forced to move on. For Andrei this has become familiar from above - this is where the image of the Virgin Mary should be. At this place, he founded a settlement, which gave the name of Bogolyubovo. It became his favorite residence, and he received the nickname "Bogolyubsky."

When Yury Dolgoruky died, the boyars asked Andrew to occupy the prince's posad, because they did not want the ruler from Kiev. Vladimir-Suzdal principality finally separated from Kievan Rus and began to occupy leading positions in the political arena of the time, finally ousting Kiev from it.

The boyars, hoping to share power with the prince they had chosen and subjugate him, were cruelly miscalculated. Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky became the sole ruler and alienated from the court not only the old advisers of his father, but also his closest relatives. He created a single principality with an iron hand, since he did not want to divide it into small parts.

In 1169, he went on a campaign against Kiev, almost completely destroyed it and returned to the new capital of the principality he promoted - Vladimir.From that moment on, the name Vladimir Principality of Suzdal (and not Rostov-Suzdal, as it was before) officially appeared in the annals.

The boyars didn’t like the prince’s arbitrariness. In June 1174, they organized a conspiracy, in which Prince Andrew Bogolyubsky was killed. Possession wallowed in two-year feuds for the throne.

vsevolod big nest

Principality in the time of Vsevolod

As a result of all the conflicts, a compromise was found - Andrey Vsevolod, brother of the Big Nest, was in power because of his great fertility (12 children). Thin and intelligent diplomat, he agreed with all his relatives and occupied the throne of Vladimir.

And again the expectations were not justified - the new prince continued the policy of the previous one and further strengthened the sole authority. A wave of executions of rebels swept across the principality.

Having established order inside, Vsevolod the Big Nest was actively engaged in external relations. Novgorod came under its influence with its unique church, many of Kiev and Ryazan lands. He officially called himself the Grand Duke and received recognition among the other rulers.

It was during the reign of Vsevolod the Big Nest.Vladimir-Suzdal principality reached its highest political influence and prosperity, the tendency to autocracy was fixed.

The collapse of the principality

When he was still alive, Vsevolod, with the approval of other princes, appointed a successor — his son Yuri. Despite this, there were opponents of such a declaration of will - another son, the eldest, Konstantin, was seated on the throne. He, in turn, made an odious decision, which marked the beginning of an end - he distributed his inheritance to his brothers in order to avoid accusations of unauthorized seizure of power. He was unable to preserve what his ancestors were so eager for - the Vladimir-Suzdal principality ceased to be one.

After his death, Yuri became the Grand Prince. But the fragmentation of possessions prevented him from becoming as authoritarian as his father was. The Tatar-Mongol invasions began. The largest cities were ravaged. In 1238, the Russian princes united to repel the next raid and suffered a crushing defeat. The Grand Duke Vladimir was killed in battle.

Yaroslav ascended the throne, but he was actually the ruler. Practically, Russia was under the Mongol-Tatar yoke.The last significant Prince of Vladimir was Alexander Nevsky. After his death, the Vladimir-Suzdal principality finally broke up into many small lands.

architecture of Vladimir Suzdal principality

Features of the culture of Vladimir-Suzdal principality

Despite their desire to strengthen autocracy, the Vladimir princes did not leave without attention and cultural development of their lands. New cities are being laid, existing ones are growing. And it was they who had to play a leading role in the development of the culture of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality.

A great influence on the formation of established traditions had Kievan Rus. The immigrants brought with them new skills and abilities, which successfully took root in the new territory and mingled with the existing ones. So, for example, many artisans adopted separate techniques from each other. It was the beginning of the construction of stone. Many buildings and constructions had their prototypes in Kiev (Golden Gate in Vladimir, the Assumption Cathedral, by analogy with the Sofia). The same trends in the culture of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality touched literature and painting.

When Andrei Bogolyubsky emphasis was placed on the religious component of the public.It was under him that temples, cathedrals and monasteries were built, which are admired to this day. They can rightly be called the pearl of architecture of that time.

Vsevolod the Big Nest, having spent part of his life in his mother's homeland in Constantinople, brought Byzantine elements into art. Although the construction of monumental buildings was based on the heritage of Russian architects.

Architecture of Vladimir-Suzdal principality

Prior to the formation of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality, priority was given to wooden architecture. This is evidenced by numerous excavations carried out in those places, and chronicle mention. From the beginning of the 12th century, stone construction came to replace it.

The stages of the development of the architecture of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality directly depended on the preferences of the ruling princes. Each had their own views and ideas that need to be reflected in the appearance of architectural structures.

If Monomakh and Dolgoruky invited masters from other areas, Bogolyubsky and his followers already trusted only local craftsmen who had their own unique school.

The first stone buildings are considered the Assumption Church in Rostov and the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal,designed in the image of the Pechora Cathedral and built by masters from Kiev at the invitation of Vladimir Monomakh. Unfortunately, this building has not survived to this day. In its place in 1222 the construction of the Nativity Cathedral was begun.

Prince Andrew Bogolyubsky


The Kremlin in Suzdal is the oldest part of the city, founded in the 10th century. K XII century. was a fortress surrounded by ramparts from the earth. The Suzdal Kremlin included the princely palace, the bishop’s chambers and the cathedral. The prince’s squad was also there.

Currently, the Kremlin Ensemble includes:

  • The Virgin Mary-Nativity Cathedral (1222-1225);
  • Bishops' chambers (15-18 centuries);
  • St. Nicholas Church (1766).

Since 2017, the Suzdal Kremlin has been recognized as an object of cultural heritage of national importance.

Temple architecture of Yuri Dolgoruky

A new stage in the construction of churches began only under Prince Yuri from the middle of the XII century. In the annals of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality there is a list of them:

  • the church on the Nerl;
  • Boris-Gleb temple in Suzdal;
  • Spassky Cathedral (Suzdal and Pereyaslavl);
  • Church of St. George (Vladimir).

All buildings are of the same type and simple, without any architectural delights, since they were not intended for wide use. Basically, they were built personally for the prince and his entourage.Their peculiarity is that the local material, white limestone, was used in the construction.

To this day, preserved, and then not in its original form, only the Church of Boris and Gleb and the Spassky Transfiguration Cathedral.

cities of Vladimir Suzdal principality

The flourishing of architectural construction under Andrei Bogolyubsky

The period of Andrei Bogolyubsky’s reign is unequivocally recognized by all art critics as the time of the greatest flourishing of the architectural thought of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality (12th century).

First of all, the prince engaged in the arrangement of the capital. It took him 7 years. Vladimir was significantly fortified. According to the prototype of Kiev, the Golden and Silver gates were established there, located in different parts of the city. So far, only Golden have survived with significant changes.

During the reign of Andrew, the question of an independent church authority in the north-eastern region became very acute. A large role in this was assigned to the exaltation of the cult of the Vladimir Icon of the Virgin and other shrines. The prince himself largely supported the local bishopric, which sought to secede from the authority of the patriarch.

The symbol of independence of the Vladimir throne and the main churchnortheastern lands were to become Assumption Cathedral, the construction of which began in 1158 in Vladimir. On its construction took 3 years. The temple was rich in decoration, and apparently it was significantly different from the buildings Dolgoruky.

In 1165 the temple of the Intercession on the Nerl was built. It was laid in memory of the deceased son of Andrei Izyaslav and his graceful and light forms became the pinnacle of the architectural creativity of the time.

All buildings, starting from monasteries and ending with palace complexes, built at that time are subordinated to the same idea - to fit organically into the surrounding landscape. It became a distinctive feature of the architectural art of that period.

Chronicles of Vladimir Suzdal principality

Construction during the reign of Vsevolod

Vsevolod the Big Nest continued construction on the same scale as his brother. Architectural achievements during his reign:

  • complete restructuring of the Assumption Cathedral after the fire (1185-1189);
  • Dmitrievsky Cathedral (1193-1197);
  • Nativity Cathedral of the male monastery (1192-1995);
  • Assumption Cathedral of the convent (1200-1201);
  • further arrangement of cities.

During this period, a unique style of Vladimir masters was finally established and consolidated, which architects of other principalities began to use.

Along with architecture, sculpture and painting developed. The cathedrals were decorated with various reliefs and murals with church subjects. For temples erected icons were written. During the excavations, many unique items of decorative art were found, with characteristic features inherent only to the northeast edge.

The end to the further prosperity of the culture of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality was laid by its fragmentation and the constant raids of nomads. On the other hand, it was Vladimir cultural traditions that were laid as the basis for the art of Moscow Russia.

Chronicles of Vladimir-Suzdal principality

With the acquisition of increasing importance in the political arena in the Vladimir-Suzdal principality begin to maintain their chronicle. Their originals have not reached our days, but there are mentions in later chronicles:

  1. The Vladimir chronicle of the 12th century (discovered in the 13th century Lavrentievsky) - the authors praised the authority of their princes and the political and church independence of the north-eastern lands from Kievan Rus. The style of writing is solemn, with the use of all kinds of eulogistic epithets and quotations from the Holy Scriptures. The compilers stop at the smallest events, including obituaries.
  2. The chronicle code of the beginning of the 13th century (found in Radzivilovsky) - the desire to use more modern speech turns, describing only the most significant political and cultural events, without focusing on insignificant details. Has probably been illustrated.

Thus, the Vladimir-Suzdal principality by its appearance created the prerequisites and conditions for the formation of a new formation - the Moscow state.

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