A relatively advanced state began to develop along the Dnieper River in the ninth century. Its capital, Kiev, became an important trading city. Cultural contacts were established with the Byzantine empire, and the inhabitants became converts of the Greek Orthodox Church.
This promising beginning was cut short by the Mongol invasion in 1240.During the Mongol period, contact with Constantinople had been reduced, leaving native elements free to re-emerge. By the sixteenth century, culture and social life reflected both native Russian and Greek-Byzantine characteristics
Ivan III’s grandson, Ivan IV (1533-1584), called the Terrible, won control of the entire Course of the Volga River by conquering several Mongol states, and the penetration into Siberia was begun In 1550 Ivan IV summoned the first full meeting of the ZEMSKY SOBOR to give its approval to some projected reforms. This institution, which in many ways resembled the estates-generals in the West, consisted initially of appointed members of the clergy, boyars, and service gentry, but townsmen were later added, and on at least one occasion the crown peasants participated.
Under Alexis, the Russian Church had reintegrated with the Greek-orthodox and the penetration of Western ideas into a few circles had continued, but it remained for his son, Peter the Great (1689-1725), to bring Russia into the mainstream of European politics