Mongol Control of Russia (12th-13th Centuries)


Figure 1.--The Battle of Kulikovo (1380) is seen by historians as the single most important event in medieval Russian history. It was the central event which set the stage for the emergence of Muscovy as the the core of the evolving Russian state. Muscovy's refusal to pay tribute to the Golden Horde caused their leader Mamai, to organize a military campaign to bring the Russians in line. To resist the Golden Horde, the Russians needed to unite and combine their forces. The resulting battle at Kulikovo was the beginning of the liberation of North-West Russia from Mongol rule. Muscovy at the time was a principality, an important one, but only one of many Russian principalities. After Kulikovo. Muscovy as a result of its military leadership rapidly emnerged as the leading Russian principality. The imasge here is one section of a Triptych by Jury Raksha.

The Mongols imposed their control over Russia (1240). The Golden Horde imposed tribute on Russian principslities. The Battle of Kulikovo is seen by historians as the single most important event in medieval Russian history. It was the central event which set the stage for the emergence of Muscovy as the the core of the evolving Russian state. The Russians saw a series of dynastic quarrels after the death of khan Jani Beg (1357) weakening the Goldren Horde. Muscovy's refusal to pay tribute to the Golden Horde caused their leading general, Mamai, to organize a military campaign to bring the Russians in line. To resist the Golden Horde, the Russians needed to unite and combine their forces. Muscovy at the time was a principality, an important one, but only one of many Russian principalities. The resulting battle at Kulikovo was the beginning of the liberation of North-West Russia from Mongol rule. The Battle of Kulikovo was fought September 8, 1380. The Russians led by Dmitry Ivanovich, prince of Moscow and grand prince of Vladimir defeated the Golden Horde. It showed the developing military power of the Russians. After Kulikovo. Muscovy as a result of its military leadership rapidly emnerged as the leading Russian principality.

The Mongols

The Steppe people of central Asia have played a huge role in world history. How hese nomads developed sophisticated tactics to rival and often ioverwealm the settled people in the Euro-Asiatic landmass is one of the great stoiries of history. They extorted vast wealth from Chinese empires through arange od expedients, including pillage, tribute, trade, and conuest. Often they primarily impacted China. The Mongols are but one of these peope, but by far the best known. This is because they not only invaded and conquered China, but struck west and entered Rurope. This occured just as Europe was emerging from the medieval era and as a result of the Renaisance enterijg the modern age. The Nongols came very close to ending that process. Hardened by the great central Asian steppe, the Mongols developed as superb horsemen and warriors. Temudjin united the Mongol tribes and was proclaimed Khan (1205). Genghis from his Mongolian homeland conducted a series of military cmpaigns with built the largest land empire in human history. Genghis led what was described at the time as the Mongol hordes. In fact the Mongol army commonly was smaller than the armies that they defeated. Although a relatively small population, the Mongols established the most extensive empire in history, streaching from Korea to Eastern Europe. Only the Japanese suceessfully defied the Mongols. The Mongols also conquered and influenced many of the major world powers, China, Russia, Persia, amd India. The Mongol Empire eventually extend from the Pacific to Eastern Europe.

Mongol Invasion

The Mongol armies subdued the Russians in 3 years. Russian armies were cut to pieces. The Mongols laid siege to Kiev, the most powerful city in Russia (1240). The city was given a choice, yield and be forgiven or resist and cruely perish. Kiev chose to resist. It was totally destroyed by the Mongols. Princes of the many principalities were taken for ransome. Russia was made part of the largest land empire in history. The Mongol armies were largely composed of eastern Turkish tribesmen and thus the Russians came to call the Mongols the Tartars. The Mongols never sought to rule conquered territories, only to obtain tribute. The princes of Russia were converted to undelings paying tribute. They would come cap in hand which woukd be used to feed horses. After this humiliation they would pay their tribute. THe Mongols would give the prince bringing the largest tribute the title the Grand Prince of Vladamir. The Mongol invasion disrupted the established commercial routes. There were other shifts in Medieval Russia's trade, but it never ceased completely or for extended periods. Novgorod although defeated by the Mongols was never actually occupied and ruled by the Mongols. Rather Novgorod played tribute to the Mongols. The Mongols also never cut Novogorod from contact and commerce with the West.

Muscovy

Gradually regional power centers began to develop, including the once small village of Moscow at the confluence of the Moskva and Neglina Rivers which begins to appear in the historical record (1147). The decline of powerful central rule also exposed the Rus to raids by war-like people from the East which in the 13th century was the Mongols. Moscow in the time of Kiev was a small trading outpost. Because of the location, Moscow prospered and grew. The princes of Moscow learned to gain the Mongol's favor. Miscow in the 1300s increased in size around a central fortress known as the Kremlin. Ivan I began collecting the ransome from neigboring principalities for the Mongols. Russia at the time was divided into more than 50 principalities. Gradually as the princes of Moscow grew in power, they chafed under Mongol dominion.

Golden Horde

Genghis' grandson Batu defeated Russian and Polish armies, but after the death of Gengis retreated back to Asia (1227). On the way back from Eastern Eureope, Batu conquered Bulgaria, Wallachia, and Moldavia. He then formed an independent Mongol state on the lower Volga. This was esentially a division of the vast Mongol Empire which after Genghis' death increasingly focused on China. The Golden Horde was also known as the Empire of Kipchack. It was a khanate, theoretically owing aliegance to Mongol khan. The Golden Horde extracted tribute and was able to command military support from the Russians. The Golden Horde imposed tribute on Russian principalities.

Russian Resistance

The Russians saw a series of dynastic quarrels after the death of khan Jani Beg (1357) weakening the Goldren Horde. An internal power struggle among the Mongols or Tartars of the Golden Horde. Prince Dimitri of Moscovy was advised and influenced by Saint Sergey Radonezhsky who despite his early years as a hermit was an ardent Russian nationalist hating the Tartats (Mongols). Sergey urged Prince Dimitri to contront the Tartars. This was the last era of Mongol domination over Russia. The Mongol remnant state was the Golden Horde which was experiencing civil war and dynastic rivalries. Muscovy still collected and paid tribute. Prince Dmitry refused to pay when the Tartars demanded an increased tribute. Moscow was by this time the dominant principality in northeastern Russia. Prince Dimitry of Muscovy refused to pay when the Tartars demanded an increased tribute. Moscow was by this time the dominant principality in northeastern Russia.

Battle of Kulikovo (1380)

The Battle of Kulikovo is seen by historians as the single most important event in medieval Russian history. It was the central event which set the stage for the emergence of Muscovy as the the core of the evolving Russian state. Muscovy's refusal to pay tribute to the Golden Horde caused their leading general, Mamai, to organize a military campaign to bring the Russians in line. To resist the Golden Horde, the Russians needed to unite and combine their forces. Muscovy at the time was a principality, an important one, but only one of many Russian principalities. The resulting battle at Kulikovo was the beginning of the liberation of North-West Russia from Mongol rule. Prince Dimitri assembled a great army and along the Don fought the first battle with the Mongols that began the process of liberation that was to take 100 years. The Battle of Kulikovo was fought September 8, 1380. The Russians led by Dmitry Ivanovich, prince of Moscow and grand prince of Vladimir defeated the Golden Horde.

Impact of the Mongols

Muscovy defeated the Mongols/Tartats and the Russians remaind Christians. And the Mongols never imposed their culture on the Russians. The casual observer might think that the Mongols had only a minor impact on the Russoans. In fact, the Mongols left a profoubd impact. One author writes, "... in strange versuin of Stockholm Syndrome, the Russians began to adopt features of the Mongol system for themselves .... Prince vied with prince to prive their ciommitment to the Mongol cause, becoming zealous collaborators and willing collectirs of tribute. Some of them even adopted the Tartar language. And most significantly for Russia's future development, a profound admiration for the Mongol model of an autocratic, militarized state began to enter the Russian psyche." [Sixsmith]

Independence of Muscovy

Prince Dimitry's victory in effect established the independence of Muscovy. This was the first significant Russian victory over the Tartars. The battle site was near the Don River. As a result, Dimitry was given the honorific Donskoy after this battle. It showed the developing military power of the Russians. After Kulikovo. Muscovy as a result of its military leadership rapidly emnerged as the leading Russian principality.

Sourcex

Sixsmith, Martin. Russia 92012).






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Created: 7:40 AM 1/17/2011
Last updated: 2:23 AM 5/1/2012