In the 11th-12th centuries, the cultural development of Kievan Rus took off. The cultural centers were large cities, many of which acquired the importance of European centers: Novgorod, Kiev, Galich.
The excavations carried out by archaeologists allow us to speak about the high culture of the townspeople, many of whom were literate. This is evidenced by the surviving receipts, petitions, orders on economic affairs, notices of arrival, letters written on birch bark, as well as inscriptions on things, church walls preserved in different cities. Schools were organized for literacy in the cities. The first schools for boys appeared in the 10th century, and in the 11th century a school for girls was opened in Kiev.
It is known for certain that even before the adoption of Christianity, Ancient Rus knew writing. The first surviving manuscript books are real works of art. Books are written on a very expensive material – parchment, which was made from lamb, calfskin or goat
skin. They were adorned with their amazingly colorful miniatures.
Most of the books that have come down to us, relating to this period of time, are of religious content. Thus, out of 130 preserved books, 80 contain the foundations of Christian dogma and morality. However, at this time there was also religious literature for reading. Well preserved collection of stories about real and legendary animals, trees, stones – “Physiologist”. This collection consists of several stories, at the end of each there is a small interpretation of what is described in the spirit of Christianity. So, for example, the natural property of the woodpecker to chisel trees correlated with the devil, who persistently searches for human weaknesses.
To the same period of time there are such intricate monuments of church literature as Metropolitan Hilarion’s “Word of Law and Grace,” the sermon of Cyril of Turov. There were also religious books that unconventional interpreted well-known biblical stories. Such books were called apocrypha. The name came from the Greek word “hidden”. The most
popular was the apocrypha “The Virgin’s Walking by Flour”.
Lots of saints were created in large numbers, which described in detail the life, activities, deeds of people, ranked by the church to the saints. The plot of the life could be as exciting as, for example, “The Life of Alexis, the Man of God.”
There are also literary monuments of Vladimir-Suzdal land. Among them is the “Word” (“Prayer”) of Daniel Zatotnik.
In the XI century, the first compositions of historical (documentary) nature appeared. To this period of time belongs the oldest, preserved to our days, chronicle – “The Tale of Bygone Years”. This document allows us to judge not only the political situation of that time, but also about the way of life, the customs of ancient Rusich.
In large cities, detailed chronicles were kept, in which events were recorded. The chronicles contained copies of original documents from the princely archive, detailed descriptions of the battles, reports on diplomatic negotiations. However, one can not speak of the objectivity of these annalistic arches, since their drafters were primarily children of their time who tried to justify the deeds of their prince and blacken his opponents.
An outstanding monument of ancient Russian literature, – “Teaching” by Vladimir Monomakh. It was intended for the children of the prince and contained instructions on how to behave young princes, children of druzhinnikov. He enjoined both his and the strangers not to offend residents in the villages, always to help the petitioner, to feed the guests, not to pass by the person without greeting, to take care of the sick and infirm.
And finally, the most significant monument of ancient Russian literature is “The Lay of Igor’s Host”. At the heart of the work is the campaign undertaken by Prince Igor Svyatoslavich against the Polovtsians. Unfortunately, the only surviving manuscript of the “Word” burned down during a fire in Moscow in 1812.