In the BBC radio 4 series The Wild East, the history of Russia after the Mongolian occupation is described as if all the bad things happend subsequently had been caused by the legacy of that era. Isn't there any positive legacy of the Mongolian occupation in Russia ? For example, didn't the newly opened up trade route to the east benefit the economy of Russia ? Wasn't the cultural influence from the east one of the appeals of the Russian music to the West European audiences in the early 20th century ?

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    More Mongolians, which I guess is a benefit if you like Mongolians. Nov 11, 2014 at 22:27
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    It took me a minute to see that you wrote "Mongol occupation of Russia," referring to the Genghis Khan times, instead of "Russian occupation of Mongolia" in the early 1900's.
    – axsvl77
    Jul 28, 2016 at 1:02
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    Those trade routes existed with or without Mongol control - wars and slaughter didn't made them more appealing or useful.
    – Greg
    Jul 28, 2016 at 6:04
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4 Answers 4


Interesting question and highly creative conjectures but ultimately the answer is no. The trade routes didn't play much of a role: Russian trade remained oriented on Western Europe; as for the great Russian music, it was the product of the 19-20th centuries and followed and developed, once again, Western patterns.

So, to sum up: I can't think of any positive influence the Mongol overlordship had (it's a more accurate term then occupation, in this context). The negative legacies are legion.

EDIT: I was asked to provide references. Right now on the fly I found this chapter (in Russian) from a recent (2001) book called "Ten centuries of Russian mentality". I'll quote a bit in the original:

Татарское владычество наложило свою печать на характер русских князей: сознание постоянной опасности довело до высшей степени свойственные им недоверчивость и осторожность. Резко изменился и образ их жизни. С появлением татар князья и их окружение стали запирать своих жен в теремах, прятать свои сокровища в церквах и монастырях. Н. Карамзин писал об этом периоде: «Забыв гордость народную, мы выучились низким хитростям рабства, заменяющим силу в слабых; обманывая татар, более обманывали и друг друга; откупаясь деньгами от насилия варваров, стали корыстолюбивее и бесчувственнее к обидам, к стыду, подверженные наглостям иноплеменных тиранов. От времен Василия Ярославича до Иоанна Калиты (период самый несчастнейший!) Отечество наше походило более на темный лес, нежели на государство: сила казалась правом; кто мог, грабил; не только чужие, но и свои; не было безопасности ни в пути, ни дома; татьбы сделались общею язвою собственности»13. Ему вторил А. Герцен, писавший позднее: «У преследуемого, разоренного, всегда запуганного народа появились черты хитрости и угодливости, присущие всем угнетенным: общество пало духом » 14.

For lack of time I'll have to make do with a slightly-edited Google Translate translation:

Tatar domination has left its mark on the character of the Russian princes: consciousness constant danger brought to the highest degree the inherent distrust and caution. Dramatically changed their way of life. With the Tatar princes and their entourage were locked in a mansion of their wives, hide their treasures in churches and monasteries. Karamzin wrote about this period: "Forgetting the people's pride, we learned the low cunning of slavery, which substitutes for force in the weak, deceiving the Tatars, a cheat, and each other, buying off the the violence of the barbarians, became greedy and insensitive to insults and the shame, exposed to the rapacity of foreign tyrants. From the time of Basil Yaroslavich until John Kalita (during the most miserable!) our motherland was more like a dark forest, rather than a state: might was right, and who could, robbed, not only strangers, but also his own people, there was no security neither on road nor in home; seizure of property became a common plague" He was seconded by Alexander Herzen, who wrote later: "The persecuted, ruined, always frightened people acquire the features of cunning and obsequiousness, common to all the oppressed: the society has fallen in spirit".

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    Which is kind of strange and unfortunate, given that Mongols had in abundance the incredible ideas they could have taught Russians which were centuries ahead of their times and completely lacking in Russian culture even now (religious tolerance, meritocracy, low-level military tactical initiative).
    – DVK
    Jan 22, 2013 at 15:20
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    @DVK: Indeed! I've never thought of it this way. Do you know, btw, that Vyacheslav Rybakov has a whole series of alternate history books based on the premise of Russia and the Golden Horde merging too form one state - very strong but also humane? I had read one of them and it's a decent literary game but until now I've always scoffed at the basic premise. Now you got me thinking there might be something in it... Jan 22, 2013 at 15:47
  • Never read "Holm van Zaichik" stuff but read good reviews
    – DVK
    Jan 22, 2013 at 16:35
  • @Bryce: What I wrote is one of the two more or less commonplace thinking in Russia about the Mongolian-domination period. (The other variety of approaches is exemplified here by exebook's answer which you downvoted - of all things :) - for lack of capitalization). Nevertheless, mea culpa about lack of references. I'll edit now to add some. Feb 9, 2013 at 12:07
  • @Bryce: Do you find the sources I added sufficient? If yes, you might consider reversing the downvote. Feb 9, 2013 at 15:11

I would recommend reading Lev Gumilëv works if you'd like to look onto positive sides of Mongol (or Tartar-Mongol) occupation, starting with this assay (1)[in Russian] and its main source (2). One of his points is that Mongols were allies in fight against Teuton and Livonian orders.

As to neutral impact, one should first of all look at the numerous loanwords from Turkic languages, such as e.g. 'Kreml'

1) Луков Д. Особенности позиции Л.Н. Гумилева по проблеме Русь и татаро-монголы. Томский Политехнический Университет

2) Гумилёв Л.Н. От Руси к России. - М.: Прогресс.

Also Karamzin, who was mentioned above, is of Turkic origin (name coming from Turkic 'Kara Murza', Black Prince).

  • And in what sense does the struggle against the Teuton and Livonian orders constitute a positive legacy? Dec 19, 2016 at 14:19
  • As the Mongols were allies, their participation is interpretet as positive. Dec 19, 2016 at 19:33
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    @FelixGoldberg Teuton and Livonian orders were invaders intent on colonizing territories and converting population to a different religion. Tataro-Mongols didn't do any of that. In this sense, the defence against Teutons was a positive legacy.
    – vpekar
    Mar 4, 2017 at 18:50

The biggest positive effect that the Mongols had was the unification of Russia into a more or less centralised state under a single ruler. Russia had long been divided in city-states with varying degrees of political association and cooperation. The Mongols broke the power of most of these city-states. With the big powers such as Kiev and Vladimir taken out, smaller cities such as Moscow managed to prosper.

The city of Vladimir never recovered as well as Moscow did from the blow it had been dealt, and eventually it was eclipsed by Moscow in importance. Especially when Moscow became the religious capital of Russia. Vladimir had been the seat of the metropolitan of Kiev (the religious leader of Kievan Rus'), but in 1325 this seat was moved to Moscow.

Moscow prospered even more after the khan started to directly support its domination of Russian lands in an effort to counter the rising power and influence of Lithuania. Eventually Moscow grew powerful enough to defeat the Mongols and unite most of the cities of Russia in a single state. That is probably the only real positive effect the Mongols had on Russia.

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    +1, but one can also mention the positive points from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…: postal road network, census, fiscal system, and military organization.
    – vpekar
    Mar 4, 2017 at 19:35

my guess is that cultural transfer from mongols to russians was huge.

no that they teach russians to build ships, calculate trade and play flute, but consider this:

sophisticated 'honour' system between lords distinguish russian from european mentality until now. and allow russians to survive many turbulent periods. mongol operation of masses and armies was more eye-eye, body-body contact and feeling to feeling, rather than western word-by-word, paper-by-paper approach. and russians seem learned that from mongols to my vision. russians will follow the leader that will breathe and blink at a proper rate rather than the one who speaks right words about freedom.

even these days this approach allows putin to consolidate forces around kremlin. this is definetly positive if existance of russia is considered positive.

then russians learned about asia from mongols, which later allowed to extend small country to the pacific, to persia and to china borders. is that positive?

yes the idea that russia those days was not occupied but rather like a state within US is accepted by many russians. then invasions should be called local suppression.

above someone mention religion-tolerance. yes, seems to me, russian culture in this area is also seem to be mongol-like. russian will not follow religious rituals in detail but would try to achieve God's(or ancestor or spirit) support in their activites. Russians for centuries would base their strategic decisions on their religion experience. Last czar planned WW1 activities based on "advices from god" he received while praying or from prophets (like rasputin).

just like mongols russians will support or leave alone those who pray the 'right god', and cast away or kill those who pray to a 'wrong gods'. this is quite positive, in some sense. as western style of religion-tolerance is to leave alone anybody who claims to do praying.

of course mongol unwritten 'honor system' or 'the way to communicate and cooperate efficiently in sophisticated manner across large areas in long term over generations without breaking apart in small fractions' is what holds russia together until now. this is most positive outcome. I cannot see how russia would survive so close to burning europe without that "we are huge together" mentality of mongols.

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    -1 due to lack of capitalization and/or linked references.
    – Bryce
    Feb 9, 2013 at 11:36
  • lol how much you hate Putin that even need Mongols to denigrate him.
    – Anixx
    Feb 9, 2013 at 13:18
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    @Anixx: LOL. I think you misread the guy. He loves Putin and he loves the Mongols. Please read again - it's obvious :) Feb 9, 2013 at 13:52

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