July August 2016 Issue: Dr. Matthew Raphael Johnson – TBR Editorial And Was There A Mongol Yoke?

This is a contemporary depiction of the Battle of Kulikovo (1380) between Mongols and Russians. Can you tell which is which?

In today’s show originally broadcast on August 15 2016, TBR Radio’s Andrew Carrington Hitchcock interviews TBR Senior Researcher Dr. Matthew Raphael Johnson to discuss his editorial and his article, “Was There A Mongol Yoke,” from the July/August 2016 issue of The Barnes Review.

Dr. Johnson again challenges conventional wisdom on the Russian empire. In Russia itself, it is rare to find textbooks or historians who believe that the Mongols occupied Russia in the high middle ages. In the US, that has not even begun to penetrate.

Initially skeptical, Dr. Johnson was slowly convinced by the striking facts that there are no records of any kind in Mongolia of an empire that controlled Russia. In his article on the subject, he writes:

They have left behind zero architectural monuments. There was no linguistic, legal or cultural borrowing from the Mongols. There are no discernible economic consequences of their empire. The author states: “Two-thirds of [Russian wealth] was taken by these Eurasian nomads, and there seems to be nothing they have taken home. Maybe not libraries, but at least some gold, stripped and torn down for their their temples – there is nothing at all.” There is also no ruins on the normally accepted capital city of Sarai. Nothing in this location that would suggest anything significant happened there.

Contemporary paintings of battles between Mongols and Slavs show absolutely no difference between the two armies. Yet, Russian medieval painters went to great lengths to distinguish Russian from Turkish armies, for example. When the Battle of Kulikovo is depicted, there is absolutely no distinction between the two sides in the conflict, suggesting that they were both Slavic armies.

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