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Multiethnicity in Muscovy: a Consideration of Christian and Muslim Tatars in the 1550s-1580s

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As persistent territorial expansion transformed the predominantly Slavic, Orthodox Christian Muscovite state into a multiethnic empire by the mid-16th century, the Church articulated an ideology that set adoption of the Orthodox faith as the fundamental criterion for admission and assimilation into Muscovite society. An examination of Tatars in Muscovite service during the 1550s-1580s, however, reveals that in practice religious affiliation was not the sole factor determining acceptance into Muscovite society. Orthodox Christian Tatars, both members of the Chingissid elite and common servicemen, entered Muscovite society, but their ethnic Tatar identity continued to distinguish them from their Muscovite peers and inhibit their complete assimilation. Muslim Tatars, also represented at both elite and common levels, were not excluded from Muscovite society, but also found positions in it and were treated in a manner similar to that of their Orthodox brethren.

Affiliations: 1: Universiry of Miami


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