The Golden Horde and the March of Muscovy
( 1240-1584)


Kiev, alas, moved into decline as warring princes fought over the Grand Prince's throne; civil war inside left the borders vulnerable to invaders from the outside. A long process of political, economic, social disintegration moved Russia into its version of the Dark Ages. Peasant villages fled en masse to the taiga of the Northeast, often led by one of their own princelings. Trade declined as Kievan Russia's economic base--its connections to the Baltic and the Black Seas--contracted. The rise of the Hanseatic League pulled Novgorod its orbit; the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by the western knights of the Fourth Crusade negatively affected Kiev's balance of trade as well. Just as the West flexed its muscles, Kiev's atrophied.

The Golden Horde (1240-1480)

A brief summary of the rise of the Mongols can be found below.
What caused the Mongols to explode out of their homeland?
What military tactics/strategies enabled them to be so successful?

http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/civil_n2/histscript5_n2/golden1.html

Go to the site below and look at the map of Mongol/Yuan Empire;
pay particular attention to the khanate of the "Golden Horde."

http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/maptext_n2/mongol.html

Russian historians--pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-Soviet--view the era of Mongol-Tartar domination (1240-1480) as an unmitigated disaster. Their harsh, brutal, oppressive rule hurled Russia into poverty, misery, backwardness, and despair; once a thriving, commercial-agrarian economy and society, Russia sank into wretchedness. Recent world historiography attributes benefits and advances in the development of commercial networks between East Asia and western Europe--over the Silk Roads, for example--to the Mongol hegemony. Diffusion of products, diseases, technology, and people proliferated during the so-called Pax Mongolica. The Kagan, et al. text states, "The Mongols...thanks to their far-flung trade, brought most Russians greater prosperity." (314) However, Russian chronicles and historians do not subscribe to this point of view.
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The March of Muscovy

Graphic showing territorial expansion
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iepo9IwqFtY >

Even before the Mongol-Tartar "Golden Horde" established its two centuries of rule, new Russian centers emerged, one of which was Moscow, founded by a descendant of Rurik, Yury Dolgoruky ("George of the Long Arm,") in 1147 or 1156, depending on the source. According to the chronicles, the 6th son of Vladimir Monomakh, he built a kremlin (fortress,) which evolved into The Kremlin. No contemporary portrait or icon exists of Yury, however, a monument to him in Moscow has survived various regimes. Stalin opted for the 1147 date, sponsoring the contruction of 7 mammoth structures in Moscow and 1 in Poland to commemorate the 700th anniversary founding of the capital.

< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yury_Dolgoruky >
The site below tells the story: the founding of Moscow, the horrors of Mongol rule, and the "March of Muscovy" up through the reign of Ivan IV (Grozny/Terrible.) Both Ivan III (Great) and Ivan IV (Grozny/Terrible) loom large in Russian history. Read through it.

http://www.interknowledge.com/russia/rushis03.htm

From the site above, be able to identify, as well, Yury Dolgoruky, Alexander Nevsky, Ivan Kalita, Dmitry Donskoy, and the Battle of Kulikovo Field. St. Sergius, a wandering holy man, also played a role in Muscovy's rise and the first defeat of the Golden Horde in the reign of Dmitry Donskoy. Look at some of the pictures of the monastic community at Zagorsk where Sergius built his religious community/monastery (lavra.)

http://russia-in-us.com/Lavra/

A TV series, The Land of the Tsars, chronicles Russia's story.
See link below for an abbreviated summary of the Mongol Conquest, Ivan Kalita, Dmitry Donskoy, Ivan III/the Great

< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haXaD6kuPSU >

Another great Russian hero from the medieval period was Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod, also a descendant of the founding House of Rurik. A warrior and sainted by the Orthodox Church, hence, St. Alexander Nevsky, he led his brave Novgorodians against the invading Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, defeating them at the Battle of the Neva, which gave him his name Nevsky. In 1242, he defeated the German/Teutonic/Catholic crusaders once again in the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus. Alexander Nevsky looms large in Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet history and mythology. In 1938, Stalin commissioned his favorite cinematographer, Sergei Eisenstein, to film Nevsky's story, as anti-communist rhetoric and propaganda from Nazi Germany heated up. The film was withdrawn from theaters for the brief duration of the Molotov-Ribbontrop Non-Aggression Pact, 1939-1941. See left for sketch of the sainted warrior by 19th century Russian artist, Viktor Vasnetsov. See below for pictures of the Russian "matinée idol," Nikolai Cherkasov, as Prince Alexander in Eisenstein's silent film, for which Prokopiev wrote the score.

< http://www.abcgallery.com/saints/alexandernevsky.html >


< http://www.filmreference.com/Films-A-An/Alexander-Nevsky.html > (left)
< http://www.sprkfv.net/journal/three08/anevskyradio.html >

This clip, alas, doesn't show the debacle but does capture something of the Eisenstein film
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXr0m7SaGvs >

Try this one--advance cursor to about 1:17
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPT6sjgPGHk&feature=watch-now-button&wide=1 >

Almost 200 years after Yury Dolgoruky built the Moscow kremlin, and 100 years after Alexander Nevsky defeated the Teutonic Knights, the "March of Muscovy" began in earnest. The Prince of Moscow, or Grand Duke as he was titled, Ivan I Kalita (1325-1340,) began the "gathering in of the Russian land," the sanctification of the state, the "binding of the classes." Ivan Kalita ("moneybags") was cringingly servile to the Golden Horde and secured the lucrative appointment of tax farmer to the Khan at Sarai. As Kalita enriched himself and "feathered his nest" by collecting more than the specified amount of money, he was able to hire troops, impoverish his neighbors and rivals, strengthen the Moscow kremlin, and expand Muscovy. He encouraged Russia's leading prelate, the metropolitan of Vladimir, to move his official residence to Moscow and sponsored the construction of the Cathedrals of the Assumption and the Archangel Michael to lend an aura of sanctity to his capital. As a quintessential sycophant, Ivan I ensured that the Khan appoint his son Simeon ("the Proud") to succeed him as prince of both Moscow and Vladimir. Under Kalita, Moscow emerged as the epicenter of Russian life.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_I_of_Moscow>

The next warrior and sainted hero in the March of Muscovy was Dmitry Donskoy (Dmitry of the Don.) The graphic to your left shows an early 20th century rendering of the holy man (starets) Sergius (later sainted) blessing Prince Dmitry as he set forth to battle the Khanate of the Golden Horde at the Battle of Kulikovo Field in 1380. Dmitry ascended the ducal throne of Moscow as a mere lad of 9, but was encouraged by Sergius to launch a holy crusade against the infidel. Dmitry's defeat of Mamai did not free Muscovy/Russia, but it marked a psychological turning point, proving that the Horde could, in fact, be defeated. Ernst Lesser recreated the moment in his 1907 painting.


http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=916096&page=112

 

Ivan III, the Great (b. 1440, r. 1462-1505)

Ivans III and IV were monumental "gatherers," "binders," "sanctifiers," who laid the foundations for Westernization, or at least contacts and interactions with the West. With regard to the "gathering in of the Russian land," Ivan III threw off the Mongol-Tartar yoke, re-absorbed Novgorod and Pskov, began the penetration of Ukraine. With regard to the "binding of the classes,"Ivan III's Sudebnik bound both the serfs and the boyars under his expanding tsarist authority. The rhetoric identifying Moscow as the "Third Rome" after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, began at this time. The graphic to your left is a 16th century etching of "the father of Russian autocracy."

Engineering the Russian Empire < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV1OrSxZEdg&feature=related >
With regard to "sanctification," the mythology of Moscow, the " Third Rome," which his grandson, Ivan IV, expanded, as he did his own role in caesaropapism, had its origins in the reign of Ivan III. Ivan III both elevated and sanctified his position as spiritual and political leader. The Orthodox conception of caesaropapism enhanced his sacred and secular power. Ivan III built the red brick wall around the Kremlin and sponsored the restoration and beautification of its three cathedrals (Assumption/Dormition, Annunciation, Archangel Michael.) His marriage to Zoe Palaeologa, last surviving member of the Byzantine imperial family, formed the basis of Ivan's grandiose claims to the title "tsar." To your right a contemporary and somewhat romanticized rendering of Ivan III.


< http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=bergen&book=russia&story=ivan3 >

Ivan III, the Great, as noted, a successful gatherer, binder, and sanctifier, also began Russia's tentative reconnection with the West. Through the good offices of the Pope, he secured the hand of Zoe/Sophie Palaeologa, mentioned above. He hired the lesser Italian master, Fierovanti, to build the Palace of Facets for her inside the Kremlin. If you travel to Florence, you will see buildings in this style there, which Fierovanti transplanted to Moscow. Ivan III died in 1505, succeeded by his son, Vasili/Basil III. Ivan IV, grandson of Ivan III, succeeded Basil in 1533.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_III_of_Russia >

Land of the Tsars, part 3, continues the story of Ivan III, the Great and Vasily/Basil III
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=R_MLYEQEkFI >

Ivan IV, Terrible/Grozny (b. 1530, r. 1533-1584)

Visit < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLftl2fzivA >
for a thoughtful but critical biography of Ivan IV
after you've looked at the first episode, stick with
the Biography program
produced several years ago, either
on A&E or the History Channel

part 2 < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dART_LgQiCc&NR=1 >

Land of the Tsars--04 and 05 summarize the reign of Ivan IV
and present a perspective (not the only one available) on Ivan Grozny
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuyHoh2XSrs >
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNKpjDaq59c >

In 2009, Russian cinematographer produced the movie, Tsar, on the reign
of Ivan IV, the Terrible/Grozny. Youtube has provided a trailer in English.

< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86VdfZ0MPyU > The entire movie,
in its many installments, is available for your viewing pleasure on youtube, but, alas,
it is in Russian. I haven't been able to figure out how to translate it into English.

 

Ivan IV, after his troubled, traumatic childhood, assumed power in 1547 and soon after married Anastasia Romanova (after the customary beauty contest and bride search.) Contemporary accounts bear constant witness to their sincere affection for one another as well as her beneficent influence on his moods. Her death in 1560 had a devastating effect on him, and by extension, on Russia. The 19th century Russian artist, Georgiy Sedov, captured a sense of Ivan's sorrow at Anastasia' death in his 1875 painting.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_IV_of_Russia >
Ivan IV succeeded his father (Basil/Vasili III) to the throne in 1533, although he did not assume official power until his coronation in 1547. He was the first Russian ruler to be crowned Tsar! One of Ivan IV's significant innovations was convoking the Zemsky Sobor, an administrative body to provide revenue and manpower in return for possible redress of popular grievances. It is tempting to draw parallels with contemporary Tudor Parliaments, French Estates General, Hapsburg Diets. Ivan IV convoked the first "assembly of the land" during his so-called "good half" in 1549. Delegates included highly ranked nobles/boyars and clergy as well as representatives from merchants and townspeople. 19th century artist Sergei Ivanov imagined an early meeting.


< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zemsky_ Sobor >

Ivan continued the traditions and policies of his predecessors from Ivan Kalita in the 14th century. With regard to "gathering," he defeated the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan, opening the Volga frontier to Muscovite expansion; Yermak let his cossack band across the Urals. 19th century artist Boris Chorikov imagined Ivan IV entering Kazan in triumph. Some historians argue that Chorikov was, instead, presenting Ivan's entry into Novgorod in 1569 (verdict still out)

image source < http://commons.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Capture_of_Kazan_by_Ivan_IV >
Ivan IV left an indelible imprint on the city of Moscow, particularly Red Square. He commissioned the construction of the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed to honor his victories over the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan. The legend that Ivan so loved the structure that he ordered its architect, Postsnik Yakovlev, blinded, is just that, a legend. The architect survived his patron and continued to design buildings until his own death in 1588. The Cathedral dominates Red Square to this day. The only element missing from this photograph is the phalanx of tour buses lined up adjacent to the Cathedral. If you look carefully, in the foreground, you can see the statue of Mnin and Pozharsky, saviors of Moscow at the end of the Time of Troubles.


image source < http://www.paleks.com/st_basils_cathdral.htm >

One of Ivan IV's innovations was the creation of a kind of personal bodyguard, loyal to him rather than a feudal or boyar overlord. The streltsy or sharpshooters/musketeers, served this function, as well as acting as firemen in the wooden city of Moscow. They first experienced combat during Ivan's Kazan campaign. The uniforms of the various streltsy units were the same, distinguished by different colors. In Ivan's time, their numbers hovered around 20-25,000. The streltsy made the wrong political choice when they supported Tsarevna Sophia instead of Peter for the throne of Russia in 1689. Peter the Great abolished the streltsy, replacing them with his own elite guards regiments, the Preobrazhensky and Semyonovsky.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streltsy>

With help from the streltsy and levies from his boyars, Ivan IV carried on the work of his grandfather, Ivan III, who had established Russia's full sovereignty and independence from the Khanate of the Golden Horde. From "gathering," Ivan IV moved to expansion East across the Volga, Kama, and Ural frontiers. As had been the case in the declining days of Kiev, the flight of whole villages began the Russification of Siberia.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conquest_of_the_Khanate_of_ Sibr >

19th century artist Vasily Surikov imagined Yermak's fighting his way across the Volga and Kama, beginning the penetration of Siberia, and its annexation to an expanding tsarist state. After Ivan IV smashed the Khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan, merchant adventurers--such as the Stroganovs--began the epic eastward migration. The hero of the story, recently immortalized in a 1995 Russian film, was Yermak who led his cossack host across the Kama River in 1581, beginning the conquest of the Khanate of Sibr.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yermak_Timofeyevich >

In domestic policies, Ivan IV extended the constraints on the boyars (favoring pomestie rather than voitchina land tenure) and eliminated the St. George's Day "window" for peasant/serf flight. His census tied everyone to his place and rank in society. He extended his authority over the Church with the Stoglav and over manners and morals with the Domostroy Book. He took with extreme seriousness his conception of the sanctified state with himself as the Lord's Anointed, Tsar-Batushka. In 1565, in the aftermath of the death of his beloved "little heifer," Anastasia, defeats in the Great Livonian War, and defection of Prince Kurbsky, Ivan initiated the Oprichnina, which brought unprecedented suffering and hardship to Russia. Victor Vasnetsov painted Tsar Ivan IV, the Terrible in 1897.


image source < http://www.abcgallery.com/V/vasnetsov/vasnetsov60.html >

The Oprichnina, described in all its horror in Russka, brought a reign of terror to Russia as Ivan Grozny sought to identify and eradicate his real or imagined enemies. Ivan augmented his streltsy musketeers when he formed the Oprichnina after defeats in the Great Livonian War and defection of Prince Kurbsky. The Oprichniks are shown in the graphic storming into a village.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oprichnina >
The graphic above is derived from a 1911 painting by Vasnetsov.



19th century artist Ilya Repin, painted this powerful image of Tsar Ivan IV, which fully captures his horror at the murder of his son, Ivan Ivanovich, an event that triggered increasing bouts of bizarre, even psychotic behavior in the Tsar. Repin imagined the grief-stricken Tsar holding the bloody body of his son, the Tsarevich, in 1885.

image source < http://www.abcgallery.com/R/repin/repin74.html >
The death/murder of his son in 1581, literally drove Ivan IV into a cycle of madness, according to some historians, from which he never really recovered. 19th century Russian artist, Vyacheslav Schwarz in 1861, tried to convey the sadness of old Ivan, meditating at the bedside of his dying son.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_IV_of_Russia >

In 1875, the 19th century Russian artist, Alexander Litovchenko, imagined an aging Tsar Ivan IV meeting with Jerome Horsey, an English diplomat representing Queen Elizabeth. Note the surviving boyars whispering in the left background; Tsarevich Fedor stands behind his father. The absence of Tsarevich Ivan suggests that the picture depicts the timeframe after 1581.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Picture_of_the_day/January_2008 >

During World War II (1942-1943,) Stalin commissioned his favorite cinematographer, Sergei Eisenstein to make the two part movie Ivan IV, filmed away from Moscow and the invading Nazis, in Kazakhstan. Kimbal quotes Eisenstein on his effort, "'Ivan's...principal aim was to create a strong centralized sovereign State....'" Kimball comments that Ivan IV Part One, "reflects the wartime rise of a new 'great-Russian chauvinism'" Eisenstein chose the ever popular Nikolai Cherkasov to play the role of Ivan. If you are a cinema buff, follow the Kimball link for more discussion on Eisenstein's two Russian mega-hits.


image source < http://www.uoregon.edu/~kimball/eisenstein.htm >

For more on how the 19th century artists looked at Russian history, visit
< /users/pmckee/russianweb/russianart.html >

The death of Ivan IV in 1584 brought the inept Tsarevich Fedor to the throne.
In a reign dominated by the regent, Boris Godunov, Russia struggled to face the challenges
and crises bequeathed by Ivan IV's last years. Fedor I died sonless in 1598.
Another "dark age" engulfed Russia, the Time of Troubles (1598-1613.)
In 1613, the Church, Zemsky Sobor, and liberators Mnin, Pozharsky, and Trubetskoi
brought the Romanovs to power.

Land of the Tsars--06 summarizes the Time of Troubles
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ggZzZWVXzw >

In 2007, a Russian film company produced a movie (with English subtitles--YAY!!!) about
The Time of Troubles, entitled simply 1612. It's billed as a kind of fantasy version of this
violent and tragic era in Russian history

< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ykAmQJgJ-8 >


For some views of Moscow and its glorious architectural treasures, go to the site below:
< http://www.midwinter.com/~koreth/russia/kremlin/ >

It is astonishing to note how little attention Western historians pay to Russia during the enormously significant "March of Muscovy," especially the reigns of Ivans III and IV. The "new monarchs" (Tudor, Valois, Hapsburg) were their contemporaries and addressed similar challenges: a powerful church, an entrenched aristocracy, both of which resisted the extension of royal authority at their expense. The Western "new monarchs" and the Ivans convoked assemblies as administrative arms and tried to expand their territories at their neighbors' expense. Kagan gives Ivan III one sentence, commenting that Ivan IV experienced a personality crisis mid-way in his reign that produced a "violent personal tyranny" (443). He offers neither context nor analysis. Nothing on the Ivans from Palmer. Spielvogel mentions that Ivan III created a new Muscovite state, and Ivan IV crushed the power of the nobles and expanded Russia territorially, again without context or analysis. McKay comes through with a whole sub-section on "The Development of Russia," describing the "Mongol Yoke" and the "Rise of Moscow." His six pages covering the subject are adequate if not comprehensive (576-582). In the Hunt text, the Ivans get lost in a confusing and brief section, "Eastern Europe: The Clash of Faiths and Empires" (553-555).

[ Welcome ] [ Geography ] [ Origins ] [Golden Horde/Muscovy ] [ Early Romanovs ] [ Peter-Catherine ] [ 19th c. Romanovs ]
[ Imperial Treasures ] [ Last Tsar ] [ Revolution ] [ Revolutionaries ]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Conquest of the Khanate of Sibr." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online Available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conquest_of_the_Khanate_of_ Sibr >

Hunt, Lynn, et al. The Challenge of the West. Lexington and Toronto: D. C. Heath and Co., 1995.

"Ivan I of Moscow." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online Available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_I_of_Moscow >

"Ivan III of Russia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online Available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_III_of_Russia >

"Ivan IV of Russia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online Available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_IV_of_Russia >

Kagan, Donald, et al. The Western Heritage, 9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.

Kimball, Alan. "Eisenstein's 'Nevskii' and 'Ivan.'" Kimball Files. Online Available.
< http://www.uoregon.edu/~kimball/eisenstein.htm >

Mataev, Olga. "Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible." Olga's Gallery. Online Available.
< http://www.abcgallery.com/V/vasnetsov/vasnetsov60.html >

McKay, John, et al. A History of Western Society, 6th ed. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999.

Morgan, Edward. "Alexander Nevsky." The Serge Prokofiev Foundation. Online Available.
< http://www.sprkfv.net/journal/three08/anevskyradio.html >

"Oprichnina." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oprichnina >

Palmer, R. R., et al. A History of the Modern World, 9th ed. Boston, et al.: McGraw Hill, 2002.

Ripperton, Lisa. "Ivan III, the Great." The Baldwin Project. Online Available.
< http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=bergen&book=russia&story=ivan3 >

Saeli, Marie. "ALEXANDER NEVSKY." The Alexander Nevsky Forum. Online Available.
< http://www.filmreference.com/Films-A-An/Alexander-Nevsky.html >

"St. Basil's Cathedral." Russian Traditions. Online Available.
< http://www.paleks.com/st_basils_cathdral.htm >

Spielvogel, Jackson. Western Civilization, 4th ed. Belmont, et al.: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2000.

"Streltsy." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streltsy >

"Yermak Timofeyevich." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yermak_Timofeyevich >

"Yury Dolgoruky." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online Available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yury_Dolgoruky >

"Zemsky Sobor." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online Available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zemsky_ Sobor >